In conjunction with waste generators, identify and deliver solutions to optimise the management of radioactive waste throughout the predisposal phases of the radioactive waste management programme
All EU Member States (MS) produce radioactive waste (RW) resulting from not just operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities but also from the use of radionuclides in medicine, industry, agriculture and research as well as processing of raw materials containing naturally occurring radionuclides. The ultimate requirement is for all material that cannot be freely released to then be permanently disposed in an appropriate facility according to their waste classification. This can range from conditional release to disposal within a geological repository, including radioactivity from very-low to high-level wastes. Yet before disposal, there are typically predisposal activities done to improve the safety, efficiency and environmental impact of the waste’s final disposal. The waste characterisation and processing phases within the predisposal activities are primary focuses, where physio-chemical actions are implemented for spent fuel reprocessing, waste reduction, treatment/conditioning and packaging. These actions are often taken to support the waste hierarchy of minimising the disposal volumes of higher activity material. The situation also exists when predisposal actions purposely generate smaller volumes of higher activity waste (e.g. through decontamination or reduction) at the advantage of reducing higher volumes of lower active wastes. There are a variety of complimentary actions associated with storage, transport and planning associated with the waste lifetime that also factor into the holistic predisposal management.
A national radioactive waste management (RWM) program has a defined owner of the waste inventory, which may change over time and through the programme between the waste generator, a processing company, a waste management organisation, or even the national government. Predisposal waste management activities can be implemented at many phases during the waste transfer between the generator, waste owner and the final waste disposal facility owner/operator, thus iterative communication and documentation is a factor of success. A national RWM programme should establish the policies associated with predisposal waste management, as described within Theme 1 Programme Management. Through all phases and predisposal activities, there are also continuous planning activities associated with evaluating the waste inventory evolution, technology availability, economics and a life cycle approach, as also noted within Theme 1 Programme Management.