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Q. What is radioactive waste?

A.  For legal and regulatory purposes, radioactive waste is defined as material that contains or is contaminated with radionuclides at concentrations or activities greater than clearance levels as established by the NNR (National Nuclear Regulator), and for which no use is foreseen.

Radioactive waste can be classified according to different criteria. The classification can be done according to radiological properties (quantity and type of radioactivity), physical properties (form in which the material occurs, i.e. gas liquid or solid) and also whether it is heat producing or not.  The hazard involved as well as the final disposal methods to be used for the waste also plays a part in the classification.   

Very low-level waste (VLLW) contains very low concentrations of radioactivity, originating from the operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities.  

Low-and intermediate level waste (LILW)  contains concentrations or quantities of radionuclides above the clearance levels established by the regulator, but with a radionuclide content and thermal power below those of high level waste. Low and intermediate level waste is often separated into short-lived and long-lived wastes. Short-lived waste may be disposed of in near surface disposal facilities. Plans call for the disposal of long-lived waste in geological repositories

 High-level waste (HLW) contains heat-generating radionuclides with long- and short-lived radionuclide concentrations. One of the characteristics that distinguishes HLW form less active waste is its thermal power. HLW results from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.

NORM contains low concentrations of naturally  occurring radioactive materials