Disposal of Radioactive Material and Radioactive Waste

Description of the subject matter

Radioactive waste means any material which contains or is contaminated by radioactive substances and for which no use is foreseen.

In principle, the enterprise must seek to avoid or minimise the production of radioactive waste, both when handling radiation sources and when working with radiation sources. If radioactive waste is produced all the same, the enterprise is responsible for its safe disposal. For this reason it has to submit a disposal plan already in the course of the authorisation procedure provided for under radiation protection law. This plan must, in particular, include the following information:

  • nature and maximum amount of the radioactive waste which is expected to accrue and
  • planned way of disposal.

Even in cases where no authorisation under radiation protection law is required (for example in the case of working with radiation sources) the enterprise must – usually in cooperation with an officially authorised body – ensure that the radioactive waste is disposed of in a way which is in line with the law. Already at the enterprise radioactive waste must be collected and marked separately, according to predetermined criteria (Section 76 of the Allgemeine Strahlenschutzverordnung). 

Radioactive materials which are reused or returned to the producer or supplier are not regarded as radioactive waste as defined in section 75 of the Allgemeine Strahlenschutzverordnung.

PLEASE NOTE In principle, the person obtaining a high-activity radioactive source must conclude an agreement with the producer or supplier to regulate the take-back of the radiation source at a later date. Only in justified individual cases may the authority grant exemptions from this rule.

The radiation protection law provides for four ways of disposing radioactive materials and radioactive waste:

  1. Discharge of liquid and gaseous radioactive material
    The disposal of radioactive material by water discharge or exhaust air is permitted only if this will not result in any relevant radiation exposure of persons concerned like, for example, people living nearby. Where persons handle radiation sources, discharges are as a principle subject to an authorisation by the competent authority (section 74 of the Allgemeine Strahlenschutzverordnung), where persons work with radiation sources, an authorisation is needed only if specific activity concentrations are exceeded. Below these levels it is sufficient to report the discharge (section 26 and section 27 of the Natürliche Strahlenquellen-Verordnung).

  2. Clearance
    The release of very low level radioactive material from the control of the radiation protection authority is called clearance ("Freigabe") (section 13a of the Radiation Protection ActGerman text , as well as section 79 of the Allgemeine Strahlenschutzverordnung); the application for clearance must be submitted to the competent authority. A distinction is made between clearance for unrestricted use and clearance for disposal at a facility which serves this purpose (e.g. a landfill). The decisive criteria for this distinction are the clearance levels set out in Anlage 1 Tabelle 1 of the Allgemeine Strahlenschutzverordnung.
    The release of residues from work activities involving radiation sources is governed by a very similar regulation which is described as "release of residues from control" (section 23 of the Natürliche Strahlenquellen-Verordnung).
  3. Transfer of radioactive waste to Nuclear Engineering SeibersdorfGmbH
    Radioactive waste which is neither discharged nor cleared must be shipped to Nuclear Engineering SeibersdorfGmbH for conditioning, interim storage and, at a later date (final) disposal. Information about the costs and conditions of acceptance is published at the Homepage of the Nuclear Engineering Seibersdorf GmbHGerman text.
  4. In particular cases the radioactive waste can also be shipped to facilities abroad for disposal. Such shipments are governed by the Radioaktive Abfälle-Verbringungsverordnung. Outbound shipments are burdensome, as the authorities of the country of origin and of the recipient country as well as the authorities of any transit countries must be integrated into the authorisation procedure.

Enterprises affected

Enterprises where radioactive waste accrues.

Competent authority

Procedure

All authority procedures concerning discharge, clearance and release are launched upon written application of the enterprise. The application must include all documents which the authority needs to check whether the conditions for the safe disposal of the radioactive waste, in particular the limit values, are met. If materials cannot be cleared or released for unrestricted use, the enterprise has to inform the competent authority in the course of the procedure about the place to which the material will be transferred (including a declaration of acceptance by a disposal or recovery plant).

PLEASE NOTE In the case of the handling of radiation sources the way in which radioactive material and waste have to be disposed of is determined already in the course of the authorisation procedure under radiation protection law (approval of the disposal plan submitted).

If an outbound shipment is planned, the application has to be filed out by using a standard accompanying document according to Anlage 1 of the Radioaktive Abfälle-Verbringungsverordnung.

Legal basis

Expert information

For more information on issues concerning "radioactive Waste

German text" please see the pages of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water ManagementGerman text.

Form

"Verbringung radioaktiver Abfälle" - Application formGerman Text 

Last update: 01.01.2019

Approved by:
  • Federal Ministry of Sustainability and Tourism

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