discusses the different forms of radioactive waste and current issues related
to their long term management.
Exempt waste contains such a low concentration of activity that it does not need to be treated differently from ordinary non-radioactive waste;
Low/intermediate level waste consists of items such as paper, clothing and laboratory equipment that have been used in areas where radioactive substances are handled, as well as contaminated soil and building materials, along with more active materials used in the treatment of gaseous and liquid effluents before they are discharged to the environment, or the sludges that accumulate in the cooling ponds where spent fuel is stored;
Short lived waste contains mainly radionuclides with relatively short half-lives (less than 30 years), with only very low concentrations of long lived radionuclides;
NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material) waste consists of often very large amounts of waste containing fairly low concentrations of naturally occurring radionuclides (though these concentrations are often higher than those found in nature). This type of waste is generated in the mining and processing of uranium and other minerals, such as phosphates used in fertilizers;
Alpha waste (or transuranic waste) — waste containing alpha emitting radionuclides such as isotopes of plutonium — is treated as a separate category in some countries; and
High level waste refers only to spent fuel from a reactor (in countries where this is regarded as a waste) or to the highly active liquid produced when spent fuel is reprocessed. The volume of this type of waste is very low, but its activity is so high that it -generates considerable heat.