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Waste (Radioactive)

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The safe and environmentally sound management of radioactive wastes is the subject of Chapter 22 of Agenda 21. The chapter notes that the radiological and safety risk from radioactive waste varies, from very low for short-lived, low-level waste, to very large for high-level waste. Annually, about 200,000 m3 of low-level and intermediate-level waste and 10,000 m3 of high-level waste (as well as spent nuclear fuel destined for final disposal) are generated worldwide from nuclear power production, and these volumes are increasing.  

The objective of Chapter 22 is to ensure that radioactive waste is safely managed, transported, stored and disposed of, with a view to protecting human health and the environment, within the wider framework of an interactive and integrated approach to radioactive waste management and safety.

The Commission on Sustainable Development considered the safety of radioactive wastes during its seventh session in 1999, in relation to transboundary movement of this waste, and again during its ninth session in 2001, in relation to nuclear energy technologies. As a result of its deliberations on this issue, the World Summit on Sustainable Development stressed the importance of effective liability measures for international maritime transportation and other transboundary movement of radioactive material, radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and encouraged Governments to examine and improve measures and internationally agreed regulations regarding the safe handling, transport and disposal of this waste.