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Nuclear Waste

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what definitions are used to categorise (a) high, (b) intermediate and (c) low level nuclear waste; and how much waste was produced in each of the last three years. [112898]

I have been asked to reply.Radioactive waste is categorised according to its radioactivity content and the heat it produces:

Low Level Wastes (LLW) contain radioactive materials other than those suitable for disposal with ordinary refuse, but not exceeding 4 GBq/te (gigabecquerels) of alpha or 12 GBq/te of beta/gamma activity—that is, wastes which can be normally be accepted for authorised disposal at Drigg or other landfill sites by controlled burial.
Intermediate Level Wastes (ILW) contain radioactivity levels exceeding the upper boundaries for LLW, but which do not need heat to be taken into account in the design of storage or disposal facilities.
High Level Wastes (HLW) are wastes in which the temperature may rise significantly as a result of their radioactivity, so this factor has to be taken into account in designing storage or disposal facilities.

National Inventories of radioactive wastes are only produced every three years on the grounds of cost, hence no precise figures are available for 1999 and 2000. However, from interpolation of figures in the 1998 and 2001 Inventories, estimates for 1999 and 2000 and precise figures for 2001 are given as follows.

HLW

ILW

LLW

1999approx 50m3approx 1,500m3approx 11,000m3
2000approx 50m3approx 1,500m3approx 11,000m3
200168m33,026m312,447m3

Note:

m3 is a cubic metre