(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
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
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
4. Methodological Description and Underlying
(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
(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
(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.