Radioactive waste management and regulations in China

The Chinese government and research communities have also paid atten­tion to the issues of radioactive waste disposal and repository siting and design. Waste generated from NPP is, for the most part, currently stored at the NPP sites where the wastes are generated as well as at research institu­tions that have reactors. The accumulated low and intermediate level radio­active waste (LILW) will eventually be sent to near-surface disposal facilities. The high level wastes (HLW) will be sent to a geological repository when it is available; this is expected to be sometime around 2050 [5-7].

Most of China’s regulations and standards are developed based on inter­national safety standards in combination with the Chinese situation. China’s current spent fuel (SF) management policy is to reprocess. However, the SF generated so far is still in interim storage, either at or away from the reactors. China’ s radioactive waste policy serves as a baseline for China’ s radioactive waste regulations, which are in place to guarantee that there will be no radioactive waste burden left for future generations.

Adapted from the IAEA regulations [8], waste producers in China must:

1. Minimize waste in fuel production and fuel cycles, materials classifica­tion and purification.

2. Guarantee a high volume reduction.

3. Use high quality waste packaging materials along with safety regula­tions that cover transportation and in-situ storage during periods when the waste may be exposed.

4. Centralize and control disposal and control release from a waste package which includes enhanced monitoring.

5. Design, construct and operate all facilities and practices for radioactive waste within these practices.

The liquid RAW generated at NPP must be immobilized and solidified. The regulations mandate that the implementers of waste disposal must be rela­tively independent from the waste producers. The waste disposal service is not chartered by or sponsored by the central government. Five regional sites in Guangdong Province, Zhejiang Province, Gansu and Beijing have been built, mainly for disposal of LILW. For HLW, including SF, current practice is to temporarily store the wastes, while the liquid RAW is being solidified.

In terms of the legislative framework, the China Atomic Energy Authority/ Agency (CAEA) is responsible for development of policies concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy:

• development of industry standards;

• control of nuclear materials;

• acting as a leading body for nuclear accident response, in particular for organizing the State Committee of Nuclear Accident Coordination;

• reviewing and approving the nuclear energy development project;

• reviewing and approving R&D projects.

The People’s Congress developed the Regulatory Framework Act to address some issues with the signed Presidential Regulations. The State Council is responsible for the promulgation of regulations, which are issued with the signature of the Prime Minister.

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