During the lifecycle of a nuclear power plant, from the operation to the end of the decommissioning procedure, two types of waste are produced:
- Radioactive waste containing radiological substances, classified in different categories according to the radionuclide concentration and decay time;
- Conventional waste, resulting from standard industrial processes, which, in turn, is classified in dangerous, special and other kinds of waste.
Radioactive waste management
Radioactive waste management is a complex activity that starts during the operation period of the nuclear power plant and lasts until the end of decommissioning operations.
It is divided in different stages: characterisation, treatment, conditioning, storing and disposal.
Characterisation means carrying out a series of tests on the radioactive waste, to define its chemical, physical and radiological features. The outcomes of such tests allow the identification of the best treatment and conditioning process for each type of radioactive waste.
The treatment involves several actions intended to prepare the waste for conditioning; among these actions there are, for example: the reduction of metallic components and the chemical treatment of liquid waste.
Radioactive waste conditioning aims at creating “products” for the final confinement of radioactive waste. Such products are stable on a chemical and physical point of view; this structural resistance allows the isolation of radionuclides. After a radioactive waste is conditioned, it is first stored in interim storage facilities located in decommissioning power plants to be later transferred to the National Repository as soon as its construction is completed.