The consultation process which will eventually decide where nuclear waste from Plymouth submarines is disposed of has begun.
The Government today launched a consultation on a process for working with communities to agree a site for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
The multi-billion pound facility would be used to dispose of higher activity radioactive waste safely underground.
The site could still be 30 years away from being ready to take nuclear waste - with the consultation process taking up to 15 years and construction another 15.
The site would provide a permanent solution for the disposal of existing waste, and waste from new nuclear power stations.
That would include waste from the nuclear power plants of decommissioned nuclear submarines from Devonport.
Once a location for the site is agreed, it will take more than 1,000 people to build and more than 500 staff will be employed on average each year over the 100 year life of the facility.
Baroness Verma said: “Geological disposal is the right approach for the long-term, safe and secure management of the UK’s higher activity radioactive waste.
“Hosting a site would bring lasting economic benefits with jobs, opportunities for businesses, and a generous benefits package to support the community.
“We want to make sure those benefits are well understood and supported by all those in the area surrounding any host community.”
Bruce McKirdy, Managing Director of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s Radioactive Waste Management Directorate said: “For more than 50 years, we have all benefited from the use of clean and secure nuclear energy, but we have not successfully addressed the long term disposal of higher activity radioactive waste. Geological disposal is an internationally recognised technically sound solution for higher activity waste to protect people and our environment.
“As the body responsible for the design, development and delivery of a geological disposal facility, we look forward to working with communities, stakeholders and the Government to take responsibility for our past and avoid passing the burden of legacy waste to future generations.”
The process to select a site would vary according to the specific needs of the community, but could take around 15 years, with construction taking a further 15 years.
Throughout the revised process being consulted on, communities would be represented by the local authority, who would have the right to withdraw the community from the siting process.
The Government will consult on this new approach from 12 September to 5 December, and will then re-launch the national site selection process in 2014.
As part of the consultation, a series of events will be run across the country with the public and interested parties.