The emergence of sustainable decommissioning of buildings on nuclear licensed sites in the UK

Adamson, David W. (2009) The emergence of sustainable decommissioning of buildings on nuclear licensed sites in the UK. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis is concerned with the emergence of sustainable decommissioning practice for buildings situated on nuclear sites within the United Kingdom. It reports on developments within the Civil Nuclear Sector that have enabled sustainable practices to become embedded in current business functions.
The history of civil nuclear sites is traced from the 1940's up to the present day, to provide a background to the industry. Many organisations have been involved with nuclear generation (a low CO2 power source itself) and reprocessing of spent fuel, so the work identifies the question of whether or not this activity was viewed as sustainable.
The current focus in the nuclear sector is on decommissioning the legacy of civil nuclear facilities and reprocessing nuclear waste. It is envisaged that decommissioning may take up to 150 years to conclude.
This thesis demonstrates historical examples and recent cases where decommissioning and demolition of UK Civil nuclear buildings, through following good practice has been sustainable, whereby building materials were reused or recycled, and thus reduced sentence to a registered nuclear repository. It establishes business benefit for this practice and considers environmental, social and economic factors. Descriptions of case studies are provided.
The author suggests the term "sustainable decommissioning" and investigates if the phrase truly reflects the practices of those organisations who work in nuclear decommissioning. A Literature review helps to show how sustainable nuclear decommissioning has developed. By conducting interviews with key people in the nuclear industry, including deliverers, advisors and Regulators, the thesis has established the gradual development of key features of sustainability in practice on United Kingdom nuclear sites.
This thesis examines one selected key feature in more detail: the extent to which best practice publications have, or are, influencing actual site practice at Sellafield; and extending to the topical issue of "free release". Addressed in particular is the extent to which knowledge of (i) Nuclear Industry Code of Practice (NICOP) and (ii) Site decommissioning: Sustainable practices in the use of construction resources (SD:SPUR) is permeating, and has potential to influence, the nuclear decommissioning industry.
The thesis concludes with the author's findings on sustainable decommissioning in the nuclear industry, how it's implemented and its success and impacts on the economy, social life and the environment. The main conclusion is that decommissioning of nuclear waste, including building materials can be done sustainably and described as "sustainable decommissioning", a term not previously been identified with nuclear activities. Implementation has come from both within and outside the industry, particularly from environmental (SD: SPUR) and stakeholder (NICOP) sources. Socially, sustainable decommissioning has
provided initiatives for encouraging "free release" of materials into the local community.

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