Radioactive waste

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Radioactive waste is a waste product containing radioactive material. It is usually the product of a nuclear process such as nuclear fission, though industries not directly connected to the nuclear power industry may also produce radioactive waste.

Radioactivity diminishes over time, so in principle the waste needs to be isolated for a period of time until it no longer poses a hazard. This can mean hours to years for some common medical or industrial radioactive wastes, or thousands of years for high-level wastes from nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons reprocessing.

The majority of radioactive waste is "low-level waste", meaning it has low levels of radioactivity per mass or volume.

The main approaches to managing radioactive waste to date have been segregation and storage for short-lived wastes, near-surface disposal for low and some intermediate level wastes, and deep burial or transmutation for the long-lived, high-level wastes.

A summary of the amounts of radioactive wastes and management approaches for most developed countries are presented and reviewed periodically as part of the IAEA Joint Convention on Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.[1]

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