Technical solutions for the management of radioactive waste (RAW): overview and methods of selection

A. BYCHKOV, Z. DRACE and M. I. OJOVAN, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Austria

DOI: 10.1533/9780857097446.1.115

Abstract: Technical options for waste streams which arise from nuclear applications, research, power generation, nuclear fuel cycle activities and decommissioning of nuclear facilities as well as NORM-containing waste, are summarized. Since optimal selection of technical options is case specific to the waste management needs, they are not ranked. However, selection criteria for waste processing and disposal technologies are summarized and a systematic approach for selection of optimal solutions is proposed.

Key words: waste management, processing, disposal, classification, categorization, waste routing.

4.1 Introduction

Waste management is a subject that has received considerable attention and is recognized as an important link for public acceptance of nuclear energy and its applications. Technical options and technologies are crucial for safe management of radioactive waste. A wealth of information is cur­rently available about a multitude of waste management technologies and their technically novel and alternative designs, as well as about emerging technologies, which require further development and/or validation. Selec­tion among available options and technologies can be done on a national level, or by waste generators or by waste management organizations. The selection principles may vary by organizational preference, collected or known experience or following an optimization procedure. In any case, because of the costs involved, the potential complexity of technical and environmental considerations, as well as the necessity to ensure adequate performance, the selection mechanism will always require rather clear cri­teria in order to address waste management needs. Some criteria will be fairly general and applicable to almost any waste management system. Others may apply to specific waste categories or to particular waste man­agement steps.

The aim of this chapter is to summarize technical options for waste streams which arise from nuclear applications, research, power generation, nuclear fuel cycle activities and decommissioning of nuclear facilities as well as naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM)-containing waste and to propose a systematic approach for selection of optimal solutions. IAEA publications [1-3] form the basis for establishing appropriate strategies and infrastructure for the management of radioactive waste. The infrastructure requires selection of an optimized technology/option because of the variety of processes and techniques available for different waste streams at specific waste management steps. The technologies selected for different waste management steps should then be combined in an integrated strategy to optimize the overall waste management system [4] . The selection of waste technologies for each specific waste stream/category should be based on an evaluation process with the following elements:

• identification and nature of specific radioactive waste inventories and associated properties;

• consideration and review of various options for the management of that waste;

• evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of each option using multi-attribute utility analysis (MUA) [5] or any other suitable method­ology that compares safety, technological status, cost-effectiveness and social and environmental factors;

• selection of the best available technology(ies) not entailing excessive cost and satisfying all regulatory requirements [6];

• approval (via licensing, authorization) of the selected technology(ies).

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