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Radioactive Waste in Perspective

image of Radioactive Waste in Perspective

Large volumes of hazardous wastes are produced each year, however only a small proportion of them are radioactive. While disposal options for hazardous wastes are generally well established, some types of hazardous waste face issues similar to those for radioactive waste and also require long-term disposal arrangements. The objective of this NEA study is to put the management of radioactive waste into perspective, firstly by contrasting features of radioactive and hazardous wastes, together with their management policies and strategies, and secondly by examining the specific case of the wastes resulting from carbon capture and storage of fossil fuels. The study seeks to give policy makers and interested stakeholders a broad overview of the similarities and differences between radioactive and hazardous wastes and their management strategies.

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Executive Summary

Nuclear Energy Agency

Each year society produces 8 000-10 000 Mt of waste worldwide (excluding overburden from mining and mineral extraction wastes, which are not usually counted as a waste). Of this about 400 Mt is hazardous waste and about 0.4 Mt is radioactive waste, which is mainly currently being generated by the world’s nuclear power plants and their fuel cycle support facilities.

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