Waste Classification

No worldwide agreement has been reached for classification of radioactive wastes. This is contrary to the rules established for release of radioactive materials to the environment and for protection of the general public and workers from radiological exposure. However, most countries agree that waste is best classified from the point of view of disposal. The NRC, in 10 CFR Part 61, classifies low-level radioactive waste based on its suitability for near surface disposal. According to the NRC, classifying radioactive waste involves two factors:

TABLE 11.26.1 ORIGINS, TYPES, QUANTITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE GENERATED IN THE UNITED STATES

U.S. Inventory

Waste

Principal Generators

Typical Nuclides

Curies

Hazard

Surface Duration Overall Hazard Exposure (years) Potential

Spent fuel High-level

Transuranic

Mill tailings

Greater than Class C

Low-level DOE

Low-level commercial Class A

Class B Class C

Nuclear power plants, DOE activities

DOE reprocessing of spent fuels

Plutonium production for nuclear weapons

Mining and milling of uranium/thorium ores

Nuclear power plants, users and manufacturers of sealed-source devices

Various processes, including decontamination and remedial action cleanup projects

Fuel cycle, power plants, industry, institutions Principally power plants and industry Power plants, some industry

137Cs, 60Co, 235U, 238U, 239-242Pu

90Sr-90Y, 137Cs,

144Ce, 106Ru, 239-242Pu

239-242Pu, 241Am,

244Cm

235U, 230Th, 226Ra 60Co, 137Cs, 90Sr,

241Am

Fission products,

235U 230yh a-bearing waste, 3H

1.8 X 1010 6.80 X 103 High >105 1.3 X 109 3.82 X 105 High >105

Requires isolation in perpetuity

Requires long-term isolation

4.1 X 106 2.80 X 105 Moderate >105 Soluble and respirable 1.4 X 105 1.20 X 108 Low >104 Hazard to worker

2.40 X 106 1.30 X 102 High 500 High

1.4 X 107 2.40 X 106 Unknown >103 High, poorly managed in the past

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