Nuclear Waste Management
Types of Waste
Nuclear waste falls into the following four broad categories:
- Very low-level waste (VLLW) contains negligible amounts of radioactivity, which can, depending on the clearance level, be disposed of in a dedicated surface site or with domestic refuse.
- Low-level waste (LLW) contains small amounts of radioactivity and negligible amounts of long-lived waste.
- Intermediate-level waste (ILW) contains higher amounts of radioactivity and does require shielding in the form of lead, concrete or water. It is further categorised into short-lived and long-lived. The former is dealt with in a similar way to LLW and the latter to HLW.
- High-level waste (HLW) is highly radioactive, contains long-lived radioactivity and generates a considerable amount of heat.
Compared to the amount of electricity produced in an average nuclear power plants over its lifecycle, the amount of HLW produced is physically manageable. According to Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO), forty years of operation at a nuclear power plant at a 90 percent capacity factor produces 970m3 of spent fuel for disposal (capacity is 2 x 840 MW). Annually, this volume of waste would fit comfortably in six London black cabs.