Sources, types and classification of wastes

The commercial electric power reactors in Finland and Sweden generate by far the majority of the radioactive waste (RAW) in the Nordic countries. The waste is classified into three categories: operational waste or reactor waste, decommissioning waste and spent nuclear fuel.

The treatment of the waste depends on the activity level. The operational waste, which accounts for about 85% of all wastes from the reactor opera­tions, consists mostly of low and intermediate level waste that requires isolation from the environment for at least 500 years. The low level waste (LLW) can generally be handled without radiation shielding, while some shielding will be necessary for the intermediate level waste (ILW).

The decommissioning waste is mostly the scrap metal and concrete from the future dismantling of the reactors. Most of the waste will be LLW and ILW, but the reactor pressure vessel and its internal components are clas­sified as long-lived waste and must be isolated for thousands of years.

The spent nuclear fuel is only a small fraction of the waste, but it is the most dangerous waste that must be isolated for very long time periods.

In addition to these major waste sources, there is also waste from research and industrial and medical applications. This will also include some research reactor fuel. For some research reactor, e. g., Studsvik and Ris0, however, the fuels were on loan from the US and have been shipped back there.

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