Waste management

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.
​​​​Attività di decommissioning nella Centrale di Caorso
Radiological control within a interim storage facility
​​The radioactive waste - resulted from the power plant activities, adoption of safety measures and dismantling operations - is now safely stored in specific interim storage facilities within the sites, to be later transferred to the National Repository. After the transfer is completed, interim storage facilities are also dismantled. This stage is called “green field”, meaning that finally the site is free of any radiological risk.

In order to ensure that systematically planning and monitoring of activities relevant to treatment, conditioning, characterisation and storage of radioactive waste, Sogin is implementing a new integrated IT software application that makes it possible to promptly estimate all the processes enforced and check their results, e.g. in terms of final volumes and associated radioactivity, and to measure the progress of management activities that are associated with each waste.

Sogin is working to ensure that all information regarding the progress managed in the computer application is certified through the computer system called blockchain, the most modern tool for tracking information, in this case connected to the management of radioactive waste.

Conventional waste management

The decommissioning of nuclear power plants also generates conventional waste. As for radioactive waste, these materials are classified according to an EWC code (European Waste Catalogue Code), which provides guidelines on the standard management procedures and the companies authorised to finally dispose the waste. Sogin is committed in waste reduction from the early stages of the decommissioning programme, with the aim of reducing the waste sent for disposal.