On October 24-25, 2016, the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, Division on Earth and Life Studies, of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine hosted a low-level radioactive waste management and disposition workshop. The workshop was held at the Keck Center of the National Academies, which is located at 500 Fifth Street NW in Washington, DC.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) is responsible for the cleanup of the sites used by the federal government for nuclear weapons development and nuclear energy research. DOE-EM cleanup involves retrieval, treatment, storage, transportation, and disposition of hundreds of different radioactive and hazardous solid and liquid wastes.
Low-level radioactive waste—which is defined by exclusion as waste that does not meet the statutory definitions for spent nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, or transuranic waste—is physically and chemically diverse, ranging from lightly contaminated soils and building materials to highly irradiated nuclear reactor components. It is the most volumetrically significant waste stream (millions of cubic meters) being generated by the cleanup program.
The workshop considered similarities between successful case studies, in which unique disposition pathways have been developed to address low-level radioactive wastes, and explored ways to extend these similar characteristics to problematic wastes—i.e., low-level radioactive wastes currently without a clear disposition pathway.
Specifically, the workshop explored:
- the key physical, chemical, and radiological characteristics of low-level radioactive waste that govern its safe and secure management (i.e., packaging, transport, storage) and disposition, in aggregate and for individual waste-streams; and,
- how key characteristics of low-level waste are incorporated into standards, orders, and regulations that govern the management and disposition of low-level radioactive waste in the United States and in other major waste-producing countries.
For additional information about the meeting, please go to http://dels.nas.edu/Upcoming-Workshop/Level-Radioactive-Waste-Management/AUTO-6-58-82-D?bname=nrsb.