UK Nuclear Waste Management – A (Very) Brief Introduction

Ed Butcher
Strategy Manager of CINDe
National Nuclear Laboratory


The UK nuclear industry was formed directly after the Second World War, with operational sites established at a number of locations, each with specific technical focus areas. The primary operational site for reprocessing of spent nuclear and waste management was Sellafield in West Cumbria, with other sites such as Dounreay, Winfrith, Harwell and Capenhurst performing other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle.  Throughout the 1950’s through the mid 1990’s the programme expanded, with the building and operation of Magnox and Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors (AGR) and the Pressurised Water Reactor at Sizewell B.

The presentation will provide a brief history of the UK civil nuclear power programme, focussing on waste management operations that were instigated during the 1980’s and on the programmes that continue to be performed to retrieve and treat the legacy wastes which were generated from the earlier parts of the programme. This will highlight some of the challenges which are associated with dealing with these legacy issues.

The scope and the timescales of the programmes and their strategic fit within the overall UK nuclear waste treatment and disposal strategy will be discussed. 

Areas of specific interest where research and development is ongoing to address challenges within programmes of work, will be identified to provide an insight to researchers on potential future areas where additional work may be required.


Speaker Biography:

Ed Butcher

Ed is an industrial chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry with over 30 years’ experience the treatment of hazardous and nuclear wastes. This has included work on a broad range of nuclear wastes arising from reprocessing site operations and reactor sites in the UK, Western and Eastern Europe and in the United States. In recent years this has expanded to in include support for waste management and decommissioning for the new generation of reactors.

Ed is the NNL lead for the ongoing EPRSC and industry funded TRANSCEND (Transformative Science and Engineering for Nuclear Decommissioning) programme and was an industrial supervisor for the previous EPSRC funded DIAMOND and DISTINCTIVE nuclear programmes.

Ed has been extensively engaged with the university sector throughout his career and is currently the Strategy Manager for the NNL and Sellafield funded Centre for Innovative Nuclear Decommissioning (CINDe), an industry-based PhD hub with the post-graduate researchers based at NNL facilities throughout their projects. In addition, he is also the overall NNL lead for the NDA University Interactions Project and is the Theme Lead for the Group 4 – Decommissioning area of the project.

In addition Ed is the NNL lead for the NDA funded University Interactions Portfolio, working with a wide range of universities across the on PhD and Postdoctoral programmes of strategic importance to the delivery of the NDA mission.



Getting here