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Geology for the Masses

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

Last week, the Geological Society held an event at which RWM presented an update on the GDF National Geological Screening exercise.  There was no ‘news’ as such, but for a non-geoscientist it was an interesting event to attend.

I am not going to pretend I understood everything that was discussed.  I have no geology-genes, and geoscience has a language and culture all of its own, but these were my simple mind’s takeaways from the event:

  • even a cynic would be impressed by the scale of ‘brain power’ being deployed — Britain’s geological community in both quantity and quality is freely offering its expertise and insight to ensure the geological elements of radioactive waste disposal are based on as informed a perspective as possible
  • remaining members of the international Independent Review Panel were impressed by how RWM and the British Geological Survey (BGS) have been implementing the guidance approved by the Panel
  • the more information collated about UK geology at depth, and particularly about groundwater, the more we realise what we don’t know
  • information about groundwater is sparse, so this will be a particular issue requiring detailed investigation when potential sites start to be identified
  • explaining groundwater to the public will be critical — there is an understandable and legitimate public concern about protecting water quality, but equally there are substantial public misunderstandings about where drinking and other water comes from; the public will need a high level of reassurance that wherever a GDF is sited, it will have no effect on local water supply
  • when RWM publishes the outcomes of the national geological screening exercise (due when the siting process is relaunched) the regional maps and available information will not be able to rule specific sites in or out, but will help advise the scale and duration of the detailed investigations required at a particular location
  • publication of the regional geological guides by RWM will be the start of a journey, not the end

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