Low Level Waste

Low Level Waste

Low level nuclear waste represents about 90% of all radioactive wastes.  It includes ordinary items, such as cloth, bottles, plastic, wipes, etc. that come into contact with radioactive material.  These low level wastes are generated anywhere radioisotopes are produced or used — in nuclear power stations, your local hospital, university research laboratories, manufacturing, and food irradiation facilities.  Due to the low level of radiation emitted from this waste, it is easily handled and safely disposed of via shallow land burial.  There are several low level waste repositories operating around the U.S.

For regulatory purposes, low level wastes are graded into three classes (A, B, and C), according to the activity of the waste, the concentration, and the types of radioisotopes it contains.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has set disposal requirements for each type, so that they are disposed of properly and safely.  Class A (about 95% of all low level waste) contains radionuclides with the lowest concentrations and the shortest half-lives.  Classes B and C contain greater concentrations of radionuclides with longer half-lives and must meet stricter disposal requirements than Class A waste.

Examples of low-level wastes:

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