UK radioactive waste management policy making is currently taking place within a participatory and analytic-deliberative decision-making framework; one that seeks to integrate public and stakeholder values and perspectives with scientific and technical expertise. One important aspect of this socio-technical reframing of the radioactive waste problem is an explicit recognition that legitimate and defensible policy making must take into account important ethical issues if it is to be a success. Thus, there is a need for tools to incorporate adequate assessment of ethical issues in a way that is compatible with this approach. The 'ethical matrix' is one such tool used recently to address a range of agricultural and natural resource issues that shows promise for this field. This paper assesses the strengths and limitations of the matrix and outlines a framework for the development of alternative tools to better satisfy the needs of ethical assessment in radioactive waste management decision-making processes.