Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine. Radioactive waste is hazardous to most forms of life and the environment, and is regulated by government agencies.
Several industrial concerns and research laboratories licensed by AEC to use radioactive materials have either conducted their own waste disposal operations or have contracted with licensed marine disposal companies to have the wastes carried to sea.
Any activity that produces or uses radioactive materials generates radioactive waste. Mining, nuclear power generation, and various processes in industry, defense, medicine, and scientific research produce byproducts that include radioactive waste. Radioactive waste can be in gas, liquid or solid form, and its level of radioactivity can vary.
Low-level waste (LLW) includes radioactively contaminated protective clothing, tools, filters, rags, medical tubes, and many other items
Waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR) refers to certain waste byproducts that result from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has distinguished from high-level waste (described below)
High-level waste (HLW) is "irradiated" or used nuclear reactor fuel
Uranium mill tailings are the residues remaining after the processing of natural ore to extract uranium and thorium
The United States is presently served by Class-A, -B and -C low-level radioactive waste and naturally-occurring and accelerator-produced radioactive material disposal sites in Washington and South Carolina; a Class-A and mixed waste disposal site in Utah that also accepts naturally-occurring radioactive material; and hazardous and solid waste facilities and uranium mill tailings sites that accept certain radioactive materials on a site-specific basis.
During the past 25 years, the development of disposal options for radioactive waste in the United States of America (USA or U.S.) has faced a multitude of challenges preventing or delaying the opening of new facilities or restricting the operation of existing facilities. At the end of 2005, there are 11 operating low-level radioactive waste (LLW) disposal sites; eight operated by the U.S. Department of Energy (US DOE) and three operated by private entities. All of them are or soon will be restricted in terms of the LLW they can take, including restrictions based on the origin of the waste.
Radioactive materials released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant into the atmosphere were found 5 centimeters beneath the ground three months after the breakout of the nuclear crisis last March, but are now believed to have sunk 10 to 30 cm deep, a study by a research institution showed Wednesday.
Plans for low-level radioactive waste disposal to be allowed at a landfill site in Northamptonshire have been given the go-ahead by the government.
Proposals to send Britain's nuclear waste into space or to the bottom of the sea are impractical, a government advisory committee has warned.
Radioactive materials from nuclear weapons facilities are being released to regular landfills and could get into commercial recycling streams, finds a report issued today by the nonprofit Nuclear Information and Resource Service, NIRS. Radioactive scrap, concrete, equipment, asphalt, plastic, wood, chemicals, and soil are placed in ordinary landfills, researchers learned.
Radioactive materials are widely used and frequently transported, often without requirement of labels, marking or shipping papers. Radioactive materials may be medical equipment, industrial meters or test equipment and may not always be marked with the yellow and red radiation sign. Federal law requires that all radioactive material be disposed of appropriately, either through decay or disposal in the correct waste management facility.