Predisposal management of radioactive waste

Predisposal management of radioactive waste refers to the management of radioactive waste, from its generation up to its disposal, applying various processes.
The predisposal management of radioactive waste involves the following steps:

  1. Assessment of potential and actual waste (this generates an evaluation of options for subsequent management)
  2. Waste generation and control
  3. Processing, comprising of pre-treatment, treatment and conditioning
  4. Storage
  5. Transport

What is pre-treatment?

Pre-treatment includes operations such as waste collection, segregation, chemical adjustment and decontamination. Pre-treatment reduces the amount of waste needing further treatment and conditioning, storage and disposal. It helps to adjust the characteristics of the waste, makes the waste more amenable to further processing, and reduces or eliminates certain hazards posed by the waste due to its radiological, physical and chemical properties.

What is treatment of radioactive waste?

The treatment of radioactive waste includes:

  • reduction in the volume of the waste by processes such as compaction, incineration
  • removal of radionuclides through techniques such as chemical processing
  • changing the form or composition of the waste through techniques such as chemical processing
  • changing of the form or properties of the waste by processes such as solidification.

What is the conditioning of radioactive waste?

Conditioning of radioactive waste consists of producing a waste package suitable for safe handling, transport, storage and disposal. Conditioning may include the immobilisation of liquid waste or dispersible waste, the enclosure of the waste in a container and the provision of an overpack1 as necessary.

What are the key considerations for the ‘storage’ of radioactive waste?

Radioactive waste needs to be stored in a way so can be inspected, monitored, retrieved and preserved in a condition suitable for its subsequent management. The expected period of storage and passive safety features are taken into consideration when storing waste. For long-term storage in particular, measures are taken to prevent the degradation of the waste containment

Why is predisposal an important step in the final disposal of radioactive waste process?

The predisposal management process ensures the radioactive waste is processed. This takes into account the specific acceptance criteria, known as waste acceptance criteria, for the particular disposal facility.

Where are predisposal management facilities operating in Australia?

Predisposal management facilities operate at various locations around Australia. For example, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) run a number of pre-disposal management facilities. These are operated in accordance with Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (ARPANS) Act and Regulations.

1Overpack is an enclosure to contain one or more packages and to form one unit for convenience of handling and stowage during transport.