Int'l norms on management and transportation of nuclear waste

Published On Jan 20, 2021

With the construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), Bangladesh has entered the age of nuclear energy. The RNPP being constructed with Russia’s assistance marks a landmark in ensuring energy security for the rapidly industrializing nation. 

However, since RNPP is the country’s first foray into technically complex nuclear energy sector, there have been concerns whether the country has the legal and policy frameworks, technical capabilities and skilled manpower in place to successfully operate a nuclear power plant. One of the recurring concerns relates to the management of nuclear waste. 

Radioactive waste or nuclear waste means radioactive material in gaseous, liquid or solid form for which no further use is foreseen by the end and which is controlled as radioactive waste. Spent fuel is also radioactive material that has been irradiated and permanently removed from a reactor core. Radioactive wastes are mainly three types, low-level (LLW), and intermediate-level (ILW) and high-level wastes (HLW). These wastes are carefully stored or disposed so as there is no chance of radioactive exposure to people and these decays with time. Disposal of low-level wastes are comparatively straight forward and typically sent to land-based disposal immediately following its packaging for a long-term management. Some parts of the world i.e. Czech Republic, Finland, France, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, UK, etc. countries are availing near-surface disposal at ground level at depths of tens of meters.