According to Polish Atomic Law, RAW is classified according to its activity level or exposure measured at the surface as low-, intermediate — or high — level waste. These categories can be divided into subcategories taking into account their half-life or generated thermal power. Another category is used sealed radioactive sources which are divided into short — or long-lived low-, intermediate — or high-level.

High-level waste independent of the SF’s activity is mainly high uranium content waste especially from spent nuclear fuel or waste remaining after its reprocessing. Producers of such waste were research reactors. The first of these, Ewa, is already closed, while the second, Maria, is still working in the Institute of Atomic Energy (IEA) — POLATOM in Swierk near Warsaw. In Poland, spent nuclear fuel or uranium ore is not reprocessed, so there are no further sources of high-level waste. All other waste, generated by industry, hospitals, scientific and educational institutions, are characterized as low or intermediate.

For treatment, the radioactive waste in Poland is divided into gaseous, liquid and solid waste. The solid waste is divided into compressible or non-compressible.

The first Polish research reactor (Ewa), which was a Russian tank-type, was shut down in 1995 after 35 years of operation. The second research reactor (Maria), which is a 30 MW pool-type reactor, has been in operation in the Institute of Atomic Energy — POLATOM since 1975. The Maria reactor was designed mainly for material testing. Between 1985 and 1992 the reactor was shut down and modernised. The reactor is planned to work until 2020 and then, after further modernisation, from 2020 to 2050. The Maria reactor is now one of the best research reactors in Europe. It has power higher than 15 MW and neutron flux higher than 1 x 1014n/cm2, and is mostly used to produce radioisotopes, for materials testing, activation analysis, etc. Initially, the Maria reactor was supplied with highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel with enrichment level up to 80%. Since 2002, for non­proliferation reasons, a low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel has been used with enrichment level up to 36%.

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