Integrated RAW management approach

The main objective of RAW processing is to avoid any potential negative impact of the processed RAW on the population and environment for a sufficiently long time, necessary for the decay of the major fraction of radio­nuclides contained in the waste. This target is normally achieved by:

• selection and application of proper waste processing technology, assur­ing production of waste packages, corresponding to WAC;

• implementation of safe and proven long-term storage or disposal of waste packages, providing for high safety and reliability.

It is clear that long-term storage and/or permanent disposal are key issues. There is a lot of flexibility in selection and implementation of waste processing technologies; however, there is almost no chance to modify a waste package once it is already made: the waste package can either be accepted for storage and/or disposal or not. And ‘not’ in this context always means many problems, which are sometimes very dif­ficult to solve.

Therefore any consideration of waste handling and processing activities should start with the end product — from detailed analyses and evaluation of available disposal conditions and requirements. The waste manager, the planned waste processing steps, should always consider the ‘end-point’ of the waste life cycle — disposal — and propose an integrated sequence of linked steps, following waste management policy, aimed at the production of waste packages compliant with WAC. Properly designed sequences of waste processing steps should provide for a systematic step-by-step increase of safety features related to the processed waste and, at the same time, minimization of waste volume. All parties involved in the waste manage­ment shall assume responsibilities to assure that only acceptable risks are taken.

Such a logical and preferably optimized strategy, which includes a complex set of technical and administrative measures, must be used in the planning and implementation of a RAW management programme as a whole from waste generation to disposal. The strategy must be such that the interactions between the various stages are taken into account so that decisions made at one stage do not preclude certain alternatives at a subsequent stage: this is usually called the ‘integrated approach’ to RAW management [10].

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