The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), in collaboration with its subsidiary Nuclear Waste Services (NWS), has awarded two contracts to establish an innovative partnership for the enhanced management of asbestos waste.

The Asbestos Innovation Partnership (AIP) will work with the NDA, NWS and the supply chain, to test and develop new solutions to treat asbestos waste, helping to deliver efficiencies and enable more effective waste management.

The NDA group is tasked with decommissioning the UK’s oldest nuclear sites safely, securely, and cost-effectively. Given the age of these facilities, large quantities of radiologically-contaminated asbestos waste must be managed.

Currently, non-nuclear contaminated asbestos waste goes to hazardous landfill, some contaminated asbestos is allowed in very small quantities in the Low-Level Waste Repository, and the bulk is designated for disposal in a future Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).

Nuclear Waste Services will now oversee the AIP to look at how legacy and future waste is managed in the most sustainable and efficient way, utilising innovation and technology development. It is projected that by utilising new techniques and reducing use of landfill, the partnership could help realise multi-million pound cost savings.

NDA Chief Commercial and Business Development Officer Emma Ferguson-Gould, said:

“The development of the innovation partnership for the management of asbestos waste is a huge milestone for the NDA group and is equally beneficial for the delivery of NDA’s mission and for the enhanced value this will deliver for the UK taxpayer. Delivering this milestone highlights the benefits of working as one NDA group and our collective enduring commitment to our critical mission. I would like to extend my personal thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in bringing this to life.”

NWS Director of Strategy and Integrated Waste Management, Paul Tuohy, said:

“We see enormous opportunities to better manage asbestos waste across the NDA group. By establishing the Asbestos Innovation Partnership (AIP) we will work with the private sector to develop new and innovative treatment solutions, accelerating hazard reduction and realising significant cost savings.  It is just one example of the collaborative working required to deliver our Integrated Waste Management strategy, in partnership with NDA Sellafield, NRS and our supply chain.”

Contracts have been awarded to two consortia which now make up the AIP:

  • Veolia Nuclear UK Solutions, Cyclife UK Ltd & Waste to Glass sas
  • React 2 consisting of Galson Sciences, and Thermachange

Establishing the AIP demonstrates the NDA delivering on commitments in its strategy in relation to Integrated Waste Management. Namely to drive technology development to deliver a range of suitable treatment routes that enable the effective and optimal management of the variety of wastes in the NDA’s inventory.

It also marks the delivery of one of the key NWS strategy [link] milestones to ensure that the right waste form, in the right package, is managed or disposed of at the right facility.

Innovation Partnerships are a new procurement approach for the NDA, providing new ways to harness the power and expertise of the supply chain from research and development through to deployment.

The AIP is already receiving recognition having been shortlisted ‘Innovative Commercial Project’ award at the Government Commercial Function (GCF) awards in November.


About the Asbestos Innovation Partnership
The Asbestos Innovation Partnership (AIP) will work with the supply chain to develop new solutions to treat asbestos waste, helping to deliver efficiencies and speed-up the nuclear decommissioning process. There are three phases to the delivery of the partnership and this contract award relate to the first – research and testing.

About Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is a non-departmental public body, sponsored and funded by the UK Government’s Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

As owners of one of the largest nuclear decommissioning and remediation programmes in Europe, its main priority is to lead the work across the NDA group and develop the strategy for how it should be carried out. It also plays an important role in supporting government’s aspiration for the UK to be a global leader in the civil nuclear sector.

About Nuclear Waste Services
Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) specialises in the management and disposal of radioactive waste produced by nuclear technologies in the UK. Forming part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) group, which is the non-departmental public body responsible for the clean-up of historical nuclear sites, NWS’s goal is to ensure all radioactive waste is managed safely and securely through innovative and sustainable approaches to better protect people and the environment, both now and for the future.

About a Geological Disposal Facility
 GDF is an underground facility designed to safely and securely dispose of radioactive waste deep underground.  It is made up of surface facilities, access ways, highly engineered vaults and tunnels, housed in suitable geology, to protect people and the environment.

While radioactive waste can be safely stored above ground, as it is today, this is not a permanent solution. These facilities require ongoing maintenance and protection from harm at the surface and will need to be rebuilt and the waste within them repackaged, given the very long timescales.

By working with the natural, long-term protection of a stable geological environment, a GDF ensures we remove the burden from future generations of having to keep the waste safe and secure in above ground storage facilities for many thousands of years. It is seen as the only viable, internationally accepted solution to managing radioactive waste in the long-term. Countries such as Finland, Sweden, France, Switzerland, and Canada are already making great progress in delivering their own facilities.

A GDF will only be built where we have a suitable site and the support of a willing community. NWS is now engaged with three communities across England with two Community Partnerships in Cumberland, Mid-Copeland and South-Copeland, and one in Lincolnshire around Theddlethorpe.

About the Low Level Waste Repository
The Low Level Waste Repository in Cumbria is the UK’s primary LLW disposal facility. This nuclear licensed site enables the safe, secure, and environmentally compliant effective management and disposal of the UK’s radioactive low level waste.

In the last decade low level and intermediate level waste has been dealt with more sustainably. Alternative options such as re-use, recycling, decontamination, incineration, and specialised landfill, (for waste with the very lowest levels of radioactivity), are now preferred with disposal seen as a last resort.