Waste Technology Section

Radioactive Waste Management Information Systems

Indicators of Sustainable Development for Radioactive Waste Management (ISD-RW)

Contact: WTS Contact-Point

As a follow up to the United Nation's (UN) Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992, the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) invited the IAEA to develop one or more Indicators of Sustainable Development (ISD) for the management of radioactive waste (RW). Responsibility for this task was given to the Agency's Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology (NEFW) within the Department of Nuclear Energy.

A single ISD-RW was developed by NEFW. DESA accepted the ISD-RW into its list of Core Indicators in November 2002. The ISD-RW:

  • recognizes the shortcomings of a purely volume based approach for an indicator,
  • is a single, dimensionless indicator that includes a consideration of waste volumes in its derivation, and
  • provides a measure of both the current status of radioactive waste management at any point in time and the progress made over time towards the sustainability of radioactive waste management. This measure can be at the national level for a country or it can be at sectoral levels, such as nuclear applications (e.g., medical and industrial applications).

Sustainability is the point at which the amount of radioactive waste awaiting disposal is not increasing, the waste is in the final form required for disposal and it is being safely stored.

The ISD-RW is based upon two factors that are applied to EACH of the waste classes used and reported by a country. Each factor has 4 states that indicate progress by way of milestones. The use of these two factors results in the ISD-RW being expressed as a dimensionless number between 0 and 100 with 0 being the least sustainable condition and 100 being the most sustainable condition. The two factors were derived to reflect the management of waste and to cover the major activities of waste processing coupled with the final endpoint of the waste. The factors are presented as independent but are linked. For further information, please see " Guidance for Calculating the Indicator of Sustainable Development for Radioactive Waste Management", located on the UN DESA web site.

The guidance document cited above states "A conclusion from the September 2002 consultancy was that countries that prepare NEWMDB submissions should be able to calculate the ISD-RW based on those submissions plus supplemental information that is likely to be available (such as qualitative information that is needed to answer the guidance questions)." Based on this conclusion, an ISD-RW calculator was added to the Agency's Net Enabled Waste Management Database (NEWMDB) to facilitate determination of ISD-RW values for each waste class used by a Member State. To access the ISD-RW calculator, please carry out the following steps.

(1) register as a Public User for the NEWMDB (a one time event)

  • access the NEWMDB home page
  • click on the Public Area tab
  • fill out the registration form
  • click the Register button

The last action will send an e-mail to the address specified in the registration form. The e-mail contains a link to activate your account. Clicking the link will return you to the NEWMDB in the Public Area in "signed in" mode.

(2) access the calculator (in the Public Area)

  • click on the Tools tab in the Banner Area
  • click on the ISD-RW Calc link in the left hand column

Then, use the calculator

Information about the ISD-RW can be obtained by contacting the Responsible Officer via e-mail at ISD-RW@iaea.org.


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