Very low-level waste (VLLW)

VLLW is waste with very low radionuclide concentrations. VLLW consists mainly of bulk quantities of waste due to the operation and decommission­ing of nuclear facilities. VLLW has radionuclide concentration levels slightly above the levels specified for clearance of material with a limited radiological hazard potential that justifies limited radiation protection pro­visions. Pre-treatment of bulk quantities of VLLW as LLW would be cost intensive and not justifiable. VLLW could contain non-radioactive materials that render the waste hazardous. VLLW also needs to be classed and managed in terms of all its non-radiological hazards.

Subject to specific authorization, VLLW may be disposed of in engi­neered landfill facilities or surface impoundments, general waste landfill facilities and hazardous chemical waste disposal facilities. Authorized re-use of material (e. g., recycling of concrete as aggregate or use for road construc­tion) may also be considered as a management option. Specific criteria are derived for a specific facility or management option. VLLW could have radionuclide concentration levels of up to factor 100 above the clearance/ exemption criteria for engineered landfill facilities. Longer lived radionu­clides could be more limiting, depending on the site factors and design, due to the longer duration for which safety has to be demonstrated. Longer term institutional control arrangements may also be necessary for the VLLW disposal facilities. Mixing and consolidation of different VLLW or potential VLLW waste streams could be justified in order to lower radio­nuclide concentration levels or to obtain a more stable waste form, taking into consideration the physical and chemical compatibility of waste streams. Existing bulk waste collection systems (e. g., evaporation ponds) could also be considered for conversion and authorization as VLLW engineered dis­posal facilities.

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