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   Chapter 22: Safe and Environmentally Sound Management of
   Radioactive Wastes

Environmental Chapter 22 Driving Force

1. Indicator

(a) Name: Generation of Radioactive Waste.
(b) Brief Definition: The generation of radioactive waste is derived from various sources, such as nuclear power generation and other related nuclear fuel cycle activities, radioisotope production and uses, medical and industrial uses, and research.
(c) Unit of Measurement: Cubic metres for volume; hectares for land mass contamination.

2. Placement in the Framework

(a) Agenda 21: Chapter 22: Safe and Environmentally Sound Management of Radioactive Wastes.
(b) Type of Indicator: Driving Force.

3. Significance (Policy Relevance)

(a) Purpose: The main purpose of this indicator is to measure the generation of radioactive waste produced by fuel and other nuclear activities.

(b) Relevance to Sustainable/Unsustainable Development: Radioactive waste, if not managed properly, can have a direct impact on human health and the environment through exposure to ionizing radiation. From a sustainable development viewpoint, it is prudent to keep radioactive waste generation to the practical minimum, and ensure safe transportation and storage. Improper management may result in the loss of goods, land, and structures which could be used for other purposes.

The production of radioactive waste indicates several economic and technical trends in a country. The application of radioactive materials results from an advanced level of technical knowledge, training, and support. This indicator is also related to the processing of nuclear waste to reduce the total amount, the availability of appropriate waste disposal facilities, and the contribution of nuclear power to the total energy output.

(c) Linkages to Other Indicators: This indicator is closely linked to other measures, such as annual energy consumption per capita, emissions of sulphur oxides, emissions of nitrogen oxides, and generation of hazardous waste.

(d) Targets: In general, national targets do not exist, although several national policies address pollution and waste generation levels. At a local scale, organizations and companies who generate waste have waste reduction targets.

(e) International Conventions and Agreements: No international agreements exist for radioactive waste production. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is currently leading the preparation of a Convention on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. This Convention may require contracting parties to account for waste inventories.

4. Methodological Description and Underlying Definitions

(a) Underlying Definitions and Concepts: At present, there is no universal or global quantitative definitions for radioactive wastes. However, the Convention referred to in section 3e above is expected to include waste definitions.

(b) Measurement Methods: It is expected that under the above Convention, once adopted, contracting countries will probably be required to report waste inventories on a periodic basis.

(c) The Indicator in the DSR Framework: This indicator is a Driving Force measure within the DSR Framework.

(d) Limitations of the Indicator: The definition of radioactive waste varies from country to country at this time (see section 4a above). In some countries, it may be difficult to separate radioactive waste from the more general category of hazardous waste. Some developing countries lack the legal and social infrastructure to track activities that may generate radioactive waste.

(e) Alternative Definitions: Not available.

5. Assessment of the Availability of Data from International and National Sources

(a) Data Needed to Compile the Indicator: The type, source, and amount of radioactive waste generated are required for this indicator.

(b) Data Availability: At the national level, the volume of waste generated can be obtained from the waste accountancy made by the various producers or agencies responsible for radioactive waste management and control. About 25-30% of IAEA member states keep some type of national radioactive waste registry.

(c) Data Sources: National or state governmental organizations and the IAEA are the primary sources for radioactive waste data.

6. Agencies Involved in the Development of the Indicator

(a) Lead Agency: The lead agency for the development of this indicator is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The contact point at IAEA is the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Management; fax no. (43 1) 20607.

(b) Other Organizations: Other international agencies involved include: the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the European Community. Relevant non-governmental organizations would include: the International Union of Producers and Distributors of Electricity (UNIPEDE) and the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI).

7. Further Information

IAEA Waste Management Profiles.

Various national inventory publications related to radioactive waste generation. 


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15 December 2004