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Radioactive Waste Safety Services

Provision for the Application of the IAEA Safety Standards

Background - The Agency has a statutory obligation to provide for the application of its Radioactive Waste Safety Standards, (RADWASS) which lay out the requirements for the safe management of all types types of radioactive waste, to its member states at their request. The ultimate objective is to help ensure that all wastes are managed safely and in a way which protects both individuals and the environment, now and in the future.

In this context the Agency provides assistance to its Member States through a number of mechanisms one of which is performance of peer reviews and appraisals in the field of safety of radioactive waste management facilities and repositories. These include:

Waste Safety Appraisals

Waste Safety Appraisal services provide IAEA Member States with the opportunity to have independent expert reviews of the safety of their waste management programmes. The technical basis for the safety appraisals is the IAEA Waste Safety Standards and, where appropriate, accepted good international practice in the particular field of application. In the past, IAEA teams have been requested to review:

  • National legislation and regulations relating to radioactive waste management
  • The safety case developed in relation to planned waste disposal facilities, or components of it
  • The safety of waste stores, of waste packages, of existing waste repositories
  • The safety of planned remediation activities at waste disposal sites

Examples of Waste Appraisals conducted by the IAEA in recent years are:

  • International Peer Review of the 1996 Performance Assessment of the US Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) (1997)
  • International Review of the Radiological Situation of the Vaalputs National Radioactive Waste Management and Disposal Facility, South Africa (1998)
  • International Peer Review of the Biosphere Modelling Programme of the USDOE's Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project (2001) - full report
  • An International Peer Review of the Yucca Mountain Project (TSPA-SR) - (2002) - full report
  • International Peer Review of the Programme for Evaluating Sites for Near-Surface Disposal of Radioactive Waste in Lithuania (2006)
  • International Peer Review on the "Safety Options Dossier" of the project of disposal of radioactive waste in deep geological formations: CIG√ČO (2016) - full report

Decommissioning Safety Appraisal

Decommissioning Assistance and Safety Appraisal - This service enables Member States to have independent reviews and assessments and to benefit from experiences already obtained in other countries. This applies not only to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants but also to research reactors, nuclear fuel cycle facilities, manufacturing facilities and to laboratories and factories where radioactive materials have been used. Agency services are offered in the following areas:

  • Assessment and advice on national regulations, decommissioning plans and ongoing decommissioning programmes
  • Assessment of the safety of decommissioning plans

Examples of Decommissioning assistance and appraisals conducted by the IAEA in recent years are:

  • International Peer Review of the BN-350 Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning Plan (Kazahkstan)
  • Selection of the Decommissioning Strategy for the Ignalina Nuclear power Plant (Lithuania)

Environmental Assessments

Radioactive residues from past events and practices exist in many countries, and in some cases they present a long term radiological problem. Examples of such residues are those from military operations and uranium mining and milling operations. In some countries programmes have been instituted to clean up these sites but, in others, the problem has yet to be addressed. The Agency has, at the request of some Member States carried out radiation measurement and assessment programmes to establish the radiological situation at such sites, and has provided advice on appropriate measures for rehabilitation. The Agency offers services in the following areas:

  • Expert Peer Reviews of nationally conducted environmental impact assessments
  • Assessments of sites to establish the prevailing radiological conditions
  • Advice on the need and options for site rehabilitation

Radiological assessments are categorized into two main groups:

Former Nuclear Weapons Test sites:

International Assessments

National Assessments

  • Rehabilitation of former nuclear test sites at EMU and Maralinga (Australia) 2003. full report (5mb)
  • Russia - The North Test Site: full report - (1.8mb)

Other Areas affected by radioactive residues


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| Last update: Thursday, 01 December, 2016.