The government is inviting communities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales to volunteer to host waste from the UK's half-century of nuclear power.
Local authorities will be urged to consult widely before coming forward, and may win financial support.
Ministers hope to have the site open for business within about 20 years.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary John Hutton told energy companies that the UK should become the world's number one location for new nuclear investment.
The government is keen to see at least 10 nuclear reactors starting operations around 2020, as existing installations reach the end of their lives, with more to follow.
The UK was a global pioneer in nuclear power, but has lagged behind others in terms of deciding how to dispose of its waste.
Finland, Sweden and the US have already selected sites for permanent disposal, and construction of the Finnish facility has been underway for several years.
Successive UK governments commissioned reports but failed to make decisions on the issue.
Two years ago, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) recommended deep geological storage for the waste now languishing at more than 30 sites around the UK, including power stations, research laboratories, and military facilities.
CoRWM recommended that communities should be invited to volunteer as hosts, a model that worked effectively in Finland; and the government has already indicated its agreement with that principle several times.