LLWR carries out an extensive environmental monitoring programme on, and adjacent to, the repository site to ensure that operational and other activities have/are not causing significant impact on the environment and fulfil the requirements of our Environmental Permit, including the Compilation of Environment Agency Requirements (CEAR). It includes the analysis of samples and management of data, and description of how the monitoring data is used to improve understanding of the site and its performance.
The types of monitoring data collected in the annual programme include: groundwater level and quality; surface water level and quality; aqueous effluent level and quality; composition and flow of landfill gas; beta/gamma dose rate; the concentrations of radioactivity in dust, grass, sediments, milk, liquid and aerial discharges; and air quality.
LLWR defines the objectives of its monitoring programme to be:
- to confirm that the Repository system is not giving rise to unacceptable environmental hazards by direct measurement of the impacts and to ensure compliance with the relevant environmental standards;
- to develop and build confidence in the models of the Repository system by collecting data that may be used to refine conceptual models or in model parameterisation, calibration or validation;
- to provide reassurance to stakeholders that the system is safe and is evolving in a manner consistent with the models and assumptions in the ESC;
- to record baseline conditions before specific engineering developments or activities, such as the construction of a new repository component (for example, a vault) or the disposal of wastes at a particular location.
LLWR Repository Ltd submits an annual report covering their monitoring programme to the Environment Agency for independent assessment.
The Environment Agency review of the 2011 ESC (PDF) stated that:
“LLW Repository Ltd has a comprehensive and high quality environmental monitoring programme in place. This programme covers all the relevant environmental media and demonstrates that the LLWR is not giving rise to unacceptable environmental impacts at the present time. The company uses output from the monitoring programme to support the conceptualisation and assessment of the LLWR, including the projection of future environmental impacts.”