RADIOACTIVE waste could one day be stored deep beneath the Pembrokeshire countryside.

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) - set up by the government - is on the look-out for a suitable site in which to dispose of radioactive waste.

England and Wales have been divided into sub-regions, three of which include parts of Pembrokeshire, which could potentially house an underground geological disposal facility (GDF).

St Davids and its surrounding coastline, up to North Wales, and an area starting at St Brides Bay and leading south-east to Swansea are among the regions being assessed for their suitability.

How it works

Geological disposal involves placing waste in sealed vaults and tunnels deep underground, beneath several hundred metres of solid rock.

This allows radioactivity to decay naturally over time, and prevents it from reaching the surface in levels that could cause harm, says RWM.

It takes many tens or even hundreds of thousands of years for radioactive waste to decay to harmless levels.

Radioactive waste is currently stored at more than 20 surface sites around the UK, which are designed to withstand severe weather and earthquakes for up to 100 years.

But these stores need to be continually monitored and eventually will need to be replaced, or the waste moved elsewhere.

In search of new sites

RWM is now seeking “willing communities” to come forward if they are interested in being considered for the GDF.

These communities stand to benefit from huge investments – up to £1m a year once a partnership has been formed, rising to £2.5m a year for areas where deep borehole investigations take place.

In addition, RWM says, “there will be hundreds of well-paid jobs every year for over a century with further opportunities for the local supply chain”.

Local projects, public facilities and infrastructure will also benefit from the extra funding, it says.

Canada, Finland, France, Sweden and Switzerland are already investigating building their own GDFs.

But the process will not happen overnight.

Detailed site investigations may take up to 15 years, as suitable sites will need to have sufficiently stable underground rock formations to contain radioactive waste, and will need to be free from potential oil, gas or coal drilling.

RWM anticipates that it would then take around 10 years to construct the first vaults within a facility

Public meetings

Anyone interested in finding out more can attend one of two public meets next month.

They will take place in Swansea on Tuesday, March 12, and in Llandudno on Thursday, March 14.

For more details visit or click here