Radioactive Waste

rad waste This type of waste is characterized by origin and rate of energy emitted by the waste. Most rad waste a waste management engineer classified as low-level radioactive waste.

Other types include

High-level radioactive waste - most of this is spent (used) fuel from nnuclear reactors. Mankind hasn't figured out what to do with this, and this type of waste is generally stored near the power plant it was used in.

Transuranic waste - plutonium rich waste from production of atomic bombs.

Uranium mill tailings

Natural occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and accelerator-produced radioactive waste

Mixed waste – waste tjat meets criteria for radioactive waste and hazardous waste.

Australian Government on Radioactive Waste

Hazardous waste is any waste that poses a threat to human health or the environment, such as corrosive, flammable, toxic or explosive substances. Radioactive waste is any waste that contains radioactive material, such as spent nuclear fuel, medical or industrial sources, or contaminated materials from nuclear accidents or weapons. Mixed waste is any waste that contains both hazardous and radioactive components. This type of waste is especially difficult to manage, because it requires both the safety precautions of hazardous waste and the isolation of radioactive waste. Some examples of mixed waste are contaminated protective equipment, filters, solvents or sludges.

Radioactive waste is treated through a variety of methods depending on the type and level of radioactivity: 1. Storage - Since radioactive waste decays over time, a common practice is to simply store it safely while the radioactivity naturally diminishes. Low-level waste may be stored in near-surface facilities like specially designed landfills. Higher activity waste is stored in specially designed underground facilities. 2. Solidification - Liquids or sludges are often mixed with concrete or bitumen to create solid blocks within steel drums or other containers. This makes the waste harder to spread or disperse. 3. Vitrification - High-level liquid waste can be mixed with glass material and heated to produce a strong glass substance that helps immobilize the radioactive materials. This glass substance is then put into steel canisters for storage. 4. Compaction - Certain radioisotopes like cobalt-60 that emit high levels of gamma rays generate a lot of heat. Compacting reduces volume, which then requires less shielding for safe storage. Items like contaminated equipment are compacted by large hydraulic presses into bricks or cylinders. 5. Incineration or recycling - When possible, low-level combustible solids like gloves, tools, or medical supplies may be incinerated into ash. Or they may be decontaminated, melted, and recycled into secure storage containers or other approved items if radioactivity falls within strict limits. The overriding goal is to minimize risk by securely containing any lingering radioactivity, essentially isolating it from humanity and the environment until it fades away. Proper handling, storage and disposal ensures radioactive materials don't cause harm when properly managed.


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