Low — and intermediate-level waste

Low-level waste

Commercial and government facilities exist for LLW processing, including treatment, conditioning, and disposal. Generators prepare LLW for ship­ment to licensed disposal facilities. Commercial LLW disposal facilities are designed, constructed, and operated under licenses issued by either the NRC or an Agreement State, based on NRC health and safety regulations governing waste disposal quantities, forms, and activity levels. The DOE operates disposal facilities for LLW that it owns or generates and uses com­mercial LLW disposal sites in certain circumstances.

LLW is disposed of in near-surface facilities, i. e. a land disposal facility in which radioactive waste is disposed of in or within the upper 30 m of the Earth’s surface. Currently, commercial generators of Class B and C wastes in 36 states do not have access to a disposal site for these wastes, which are being stored pending a disposal pathway.

Greater-than-class C LLW

Greater-than-class C (GTCC) LLW waste is a form of LLW containing long — and short-lived radionuclides with properties requiring a more robust disposal strategy than for other classes of LLW. In the context of this chapter, ‘more robust’ means a greater degree of isolation, durability, and performance than is associated with near-surface disposal for other classes of LLW. This could include intermediate-level waste, as defined by some nations. The authority to possess this type of radioactive material is included in NRC or Agreement State licenses.

GTCC LLW may generally be grouped into the following three types: sealed sources, activated metals, and other waste. Other GTCC LLW includes contaminated equipment, trash, and scrap metal from miscellane­ous industrial activities, such as manufacturing of sealed sources and laboratory research. Most GTCC LLW is activated metal, generated by decommissioning NPPs, and disused sealed sources. Although the US inven­tory of GTCC LLW is modest, the construction of new commercial reactors and other proposed actions could generate additional quantities of GTCC LLW. GTCC LLW is stored until an adequate method of disposal is estab­lished by the DOE.

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