Author Archives: nuclearhistory

EEO Baker Window sign.


I’m having trouble with the Fundies Only window sign. How about “Repent, so I can sell you a cake (Tithing comes later.)” ? Seems fair.

Let the market decide.


Dr. Goldman Pronounces on Chernobyl, 1992

New York Times, Sept 3, 1992



“Children who were exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster are developing thyroid cancer sooner and in larger numbers than expected, researchers report.

The results are the first reliable data in the population downwind of the Chernobyl accident in 1986, said Dr. Marvin Goldman, a radiation biologist at the University of California at Irvine who was not involved in the new study.

An increase in thyroid cancer had been reported earlier, but some Western health officials had expressed concern about the reliability of the data. As recently as May 1991, Dr. Goldman took part in an International Atomic Energy Agency study that concluded that there were “no health disorders that could be attributed directly to radiation.” end quote.

Academic paper: “Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan”

Source Institute: 医療問題研究会

Institute link :

Link to full text pdf:

Authors and copyright:

Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Dr rer nat Dipl-Matha,∗, Kuniyoshi Mori, MDb, Keiji Hayashi, MDc

Editor: Roman Leischik.
The authors have no funding and conflicts of interest to disclose.
a Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Computational Biology, Neuherberg, Germany, b Higashiosaka Health Center 4-3-22 Iwatachou, Higashiosakacity, c Hayashi Children’s Clinic, Osaka, Japan.
∗ Correspondence: Hagen Heinrich Scherb, Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Computational Biology, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany
Copyright © 2016 the Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0 (CCBY-NC- ND), where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.
Medicine (2016) 95:38(e4958)
Received: 29 June 2016 / Received in final form: 22 August 2016 / Accepted: 2 September 2016

Scherb et al. Medicine (2016) 95:38
“Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan – A spatially stratified longitudinal study”


Quote: “Abstract
Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl. The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan. For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth. Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure. Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami. Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009. There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan. In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami. Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend. These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level.
Abbreviations: CP = change-point, O = odds, OR = odds ratio, PD = perinatal death, SAS = Statistical Analysis System, software produced by SAS Institute Inc., TEPCO = Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Keywords: change-point analysis, detrimental pregnancy outcome, ionizing radiation, nuclear accident, radiation induced genetic effect, stillbirth.” end quote.

The Decommissioning of Nuclear Reactors and Related Environmental Consequences UNEP.

Original Link:

Design and Distribution
Most nuclear power plants (NPPs) around the world were designed and constructed before the problem of how to eventually dismantle them had been solved, or was even seriously considered. NPPs were initially designed to function for a term of 30 to 40 years with some granted a 20-year extension to 60 years. Newer plants are now designed to operate for up to 60 years. Notably, extended operating lives are likely to generate more irradiated hardware. Moreover, prospective plans for new construction are on the rise, with a reported investment from China to acquire approximately 30 new reactors, and five planned plus 16 proposed in Central Europe.

Currently, there are nearly 150 reactors still operating that are over 30 years old, 13 of which are over 40 years old (IAEA 2011). These figures do not include military and research reactors. In the coming years, many reactors will be scheduled for decommissioning due to their advanced age, adding to the already large number of inactive reactors

The Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan has further accelerated plans to shut down nuclear plants in several countries, with Germany and Switzerland setting a timeline for the closure of all of their nuclear facilities (17 and five respectively). In Japan, 35 of the 54 reactors are currently shutdown and awaiting permission to restart.

Until now, only about seventeen of the 129 shut down nuclear power reactors have been fully decommissioned and the sites removed from regulatory control (World Nuclear Association 2011). Other reactors have been placed into “safe-store” mode for a period of 40 to 60 years to reduce radioactivity before dismantling. Worldwide, three NPPs have been entombed�a procedure considered equivalent to creating a waste repository.

A final strategy for the decommissioning of the majority of sites has not yet been decided. The internationally preferred strategy for the decommissioning of the majority of NPP sites is immediate dismantling. However, reviews indicate countries may employ several options including a combination option of immediate and deferred dismantling.

Nor is decommissioning (and the attendant hazards) restricted to just NPPs. Uranium mines, particle accelerators and nuclear vessels are also decommissioned. Decommissioning nuclear-powered submarines, for example, also poses challenges. Each submarine produces an estimated 850 tonnes of low and intermediate level waste (LILW). A number of problems make dismantling difficult: finding equipment for defuelling, identifying sites for the waste, acquiring sufficient funds, a lack of trained professionals, and disputes over access and liability (Nilsen and others 1997, Webster 2003). As with NPPs, there is also the risk of radioactivity being released (Krylov and Pavlovski 2009). In the past, a nuclear submarine’s reactor was disposed off by extracting it from the vessel and sinking it in the sea (Olgaard 2006).

In 1991 approximately 200 decommissioned nuclear submarines existed in Russia. By 2003, half of these had actually been dismantled. However, many of the reactors from these ships had been dumped in the sea or were still floating in buoys near the shipyards (Webster 2003). In the UK, a site for decommissioning out-of-service submarines has not yet been selected, and fifteen submarines are currently awaiting dismantling or being prepared for “afloat storage” (Environment Agency UK 2011). Fears have been raised over the creation of nuclear hot spots in oceans and seas (Aumento and others 2006).

With respect to the actual decommissioning, activities are carried out (and paid for) by the operator of the plant; however, in the event of operator default or non-performance, this responsibility likely reverts to the regulating entity. In addition, certain countries have established a special body vested with long-term responsibility over decommissions.

The Unquantifiable Costs of Decommissioning
The costs of decommissioning and waste disposal include the possibility of risks to public health, safety and the environment when not properly managed. Some unexpected incidents have been reported during decommissioning, including releases of radioactive elements and fires and floods affecting the storage sites. The primary problems arising from decommissioning relate to reprocessing and removing radioactive wastes for subsequent storage or disposal. One of the greatest dangers arising during equipment disassembly is exposure to radiation, since protective safety barriers are dismantled and a large amount of radioactive substances can migrate outside the confines of the units (Bylkin and others 2011). During the cutting up of the materials for decommissioning, the radioactivity is in a different form (dust and gas) than during the running of the NPP. This has potential to create radioactivity leaks to the environment (Shimada and other 2010). Decommissioning one 1 000 MW reactor generates about 10,000 m3 of low and intermediate level waste (LILW), much of which is concrete and other building materials containing small amounts of radioactive materials (CORWM 2006).

As discussed above, clean-up of a decommission site is typically dictated by governmental regulation. It is satisfying the stringent regulations that prove to be a primary cost driver for decommissioning and waste disposal. Reactor types and sizes, the number of reactors on an individual plant site, and labour costs are among the main factors affecting costs. Mandated long-term site reviews and on-going monitoring and surveillance also drive up final costs, at times beyond original estimates. Further, non-human driven cost factors must be accounted for including classification and type of waste (see above discussion on waste classifications), amount of waste produced, availability of waste repositories for the particular type generated and special transport to those locations. Due to the variations in these cost components and the obvious fact that shortcuts cannot be taken, significant differences between planned and actual costs have not been uncommon. As a result of these lessons, it has become highly recommended practice to estimate and include decommissioning costs from the point of project inception, with review onward.

What We Know Now, and Future Implications
1. Waste
A large number of sites will be required to store radioactive waste from decommissioned NPPs and other nuclear reactors over the long term. It is likely that additional buildings and facilities to treat, package and store resultant wastes will need to be constructed to handle output from newly decommissioned reactors. In turn, the infrastructure itself will also eventually have to be decommissioned. Decommissioning activities produce 68 per cent of LILW-LL waste, of which only seven per cent has been disposed off to date (Figure 3).
Extensive research indicates that significant numbers of countries have plans in place for disposal of LILW-SL and some LILW-LL. However, most countries have no designated sites for high-level waste due to political and public perceptions and long-term uncertainties surrounding the issue. The case of the United States illustrates these difficulties in a developed country (Department of Energy USA 2011): problems associated with the selection of a site for the long-term disposal of high-level waste and spent fuel have been ongoing for many years, leading to an increase in costs as solutions are considered; action is presently suspended. Countries facing greater economic constraints will have even more serious difficulties dealing with radioactive waste disposal. In some cases, no waste management systems exist and the dismantling will be deferred to a later date.
2. Limited information
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (2011) of the UK states that: “One of the biggest difficulties we face is the limited information we have for a number of legacy facilities. For instance, some do not have detailed inventories of waste. Some lack reliable design drawings. Many were one-off projects, built as experiments to test new approaches and ideas. Therefore the challenge is often not how to tackle a particular task, but rather deciding what the task is. This is known as scoping.”
3. Soil contamination
Based on past decommissioning experiences, it has been shown that the pattern and extent of soil contamination cannot be planned until late into the decommissioning process. The boundary between the bedrock and soil deposits and the flow pathways in the soil will affect the direction and rate in which the radioactive material will be transported. Soil testing below the buildings cannot be carried out until access has been made safe. Depending on the results of these tests, varying amounts of soil might have to be removed, which cannot be determined until the decommissioning process is well underway. For example, in the case of the decommissioning of the Connecticut Yankee NPP in the United States, the soil volume contaminated was higher than expected and 33 000 m3 of soil had to be removed, increasing the cost of the decommissioning. While the case cited is an extreme example, this factor has to be taken into account. Decommissioning should be carried out in steps to avoid such problems disrupting the overall plans (EPRI 2011).
One of the possible consequences of soil contamination is the subsequent contamination of groundwater, either through migration of the contaminants through the soil to the water table, or through the variation in water table height, since as the water rises, it can come into contact with contaminated soil. Reporting any leaks during the lifetime of the NPP will enable decommissioning plans to be more precise (EPRI 2011).
4. Need for trained professionals
An increased number of trained professionals will be needed (IAEA 2005) and techniques need to be improved to ensure safer dismantling. In France, major progress has been made, although no NPPs have yet been fully decommissioned despite the closure of ten NPPs since 1973. The dismantling of the Brennilis power station was meant to be a learning experience to acquire technological knowledge to apply to other sites in France. Operations have been interrupted since 2007, however, due to security issues concerning radioactivity levels and tracing wastes (EDF 2007). As some NPP sites will be placed in safe storage for up to 60 years, professionals will have to be trained now to decommission them at a much later date, to avoid losing current knowledge about how to conduct the decommissioning.
The risks associated with radioactive leaks due to human errors might be higher during decommissioning. Indeed, the perception of risk is lower after high-activity inventory, such as spent fuel, has been removed. In fact, the risk is not negligible due in part to the process being unregulated (Iguchi and Kato 2010).
5. Socio-economic impacts
Decommissioning NPPs affects local employment rates, the price of housing and land use. These impacts should be taken into account when selecting a strategy for decommissioning (IAEA 2005). The release of sites for other uses may help to limit the social impacts, but other constraints still need to be considered. Negative public perception remains the most serious challenge to opening radioactive waste repositories (Oldenburg and Birkholzer 2011).
6. Security
Once the spent fuel is removed from the reactors prior to decommissioning, the risks to the public and environment are relatively small. But where facilities are under decommissioning, and in particular when they are placed in “safe-store” mode or entombed, site surveillance has to be maintained to protect the contents from theft and malicious use. This is a costly factor that countries will need to take into account. Concerns exist about the risks associated with the possible use of nuclear devices created from stolen nuclear material as well as sabotage of power stations (Bunn and Bunn 2008). These concerns have been proven to be real. In 1998 in Kinshasa, Congo, for example, two reactor rods in a temporarily closed-down research station were stolen. Although one was later recovered in Italy, the other has never been recovered. Security at the site is still considered highly unsatisfactory (McGreal 2006).
7. Cost
Since few NPPs have been fully decommissioned, the exact costs of accomplishing this phase are unknown (Ramana 2009). Estimates vary from 9% to 200% of the construction costs (Lenzen 2008). Data are often not made available to the public owing to contractual arrangements, property rights and other reasons. Cost estimates are only accurate from -5% to +15% (Laguardia 2006). A report estimating the cost of decommissioning a site in the United States shows that for some projects, documentation on the data used to estimate costs is in fact missing (GAO 2010). Moreover, the projected trend toward increased private financing of NPPs can be expected to bring with it more extensive and different types of reporting and documentation needs.
Additionally, it is important to note that recent worldwide economic instability could jeopardise these decommissioning funds, as well as premature or “on-time” NPP shutdowns; thus, relevant operators and governments need to act. There are examples of funds for decommissioning plants in the United States losing 10% of their value during the financial crises in 2008, resulting in delayed decommissioning plans (Thomas and Hall 2009).
8. CO2 production
Although in general nuclear energy generation does not produce any CO2, the full life-cycle of a nuclear power station is not “CO2-neutral”. Decommissioning is one of the processes that produces CO2, although studies vary greatly in estimating the amount produced. Based on several studies, it produces an estimated mean of 12g of CO2 emission per kilowatt hour (12 g CO2 e/kWh); while the mean emission level over the lifetime of a nuclear power plant is estimated to be 66 g CO2 e/kWh (Sovacool 2008). While this cost varies according to technique and reactor type, the total energy required for decommissioning can be as much as 50% more than the energy needed for the original construction (Fleming 2007).
The decommissioning of a nuclear power plant is a large-scale organizational and technical process comparable in time, financial and labour resources to the building of the unit. Decommissioning reactors will become a major operation over the next 50 years, with far-reaching implications including an increase in the production of radioactive waste, health and security issues, socio-economic impacts and inevitable technical challenges. Given that the decommissioning process may take several decades, it is important that plans are defined in advance. Detailed procedures and “best practice” policies are needed to minimize the danger posed to human health and the environment by decommissioning nuclear facilities. Greater funding and international cooperation are required to share information and expertise on the decommissioning of nuclear reactors and submarines, as aging NPPs are taken offline and nuclear submarines finally dismantled. Making best use of the Joint Convention on the Safety of the Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management is one of the steps to take in this direction.
Aumento F, Cristaldi M, & Zucchetti M 2006. Nuclear powered submarines as hazards to the marine environment, Fresenius Environmental Bulletin, vol. 15 no. 9, pp. 1068-1075.
Bunn M and Bunn G 2008. Reducing the threat of nuclear theft and sabotage IAEA-SM-367/4/08, International Atomic Energy Agency (Accessed 4 July 2011).
Bylkin B K, Pereguda V I, Shaposhnikov V A, & Tikhonovskii V L 2011. Composition and structure of simulation models for evaluating decommissions costs for nuclear power plant units. Atomic Energy, vol. 110 no. 20, pp. 77-81.
CORWM 2006. Managing our radioactive waste safely: CORWM’s recommendation to Government. Committee on Radioactive Waste Management Final Report, July 2006. London, UK. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
Deloitte Touche, Tohmatsu 2006. Nuclear Decommissioning and Waste: A Global Overview of Strategies and the Implications for the Future Energy & Resources (May 2006). (Accessed 28 July 2011).
Department of Energy US 2011. Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, (Accessed 4 July 2011).
EDF 2007. La d�construction de la Centrale de Brennilis R�union de l’observatoire de d�mant�lement du vendredi 29 juin 2007 EDF press publication. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
Environment Agency UK, 2011. Nuclear submarine disposal, (Accessed 4 July 2011).
EPRI 2011. Power Reactor Decommissioning Experience Technical. Report ID 1023456. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Palo Alto, California, USA.
Fleming D 2007. The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy: A Lifecycle in Trouble. The Lean Economy Connection, London. ISBN 9780955084928.
GAO 2010. Actions Needed to Develop High-Quality Cost Estimates for Construction and Environmental Cleanup Projects GAO-10-199 United States Government Accountability Office, (Accessed 4 July 2011).
Kitschelt H P 1986. Political Opportunity and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies. British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1986, p. 57 – 85.
Krylov A L & Pavlovski O A 2009. Modeling of consequences of hypothetical accidental radioactive contamination of gulfs and bays in Murmansk region of Russian Federation, Radioprotection, Vol. 44, no. 5, pp 765 – 769.
IAEA 2004. Status of the decommissioning of nuclear facilities around the world STI/PUB/1201. International Atomic Energy Agency, (Accessed 4 July 2011).
IAEA 2005. Selection of decommissioning strategies: Issues and factors IAEA-TECDOC-1478, International Atomic Energy Agency. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
IAEA 2006. Decommissioning of Facilities Using Radioactive Material Safety Requirements IAEA Safety Standards Series No WS-R-5. International Atomic Energy Agency. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
IAEA 2011. Nuclear power plant information, International Atomic Energy Agency. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
Iguchi Y & Kato M 2010. Risk-Informed Approach for the Regulation of Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities. J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power, Vol 132, no 10, pp102910-102919.
Lenzen M 2008. Life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions of nuclear energy: A review. Energy Conversion and Management, vol. 49, no. 8, pp 2178-2199.
Laguardia T 2006. Reasons for inconsistencies between estimated and actual decommissioning costs. In Proceedings of an International Conference Athens, 11-15 December 2006, ppp231-244. International Atomic Energy Agency. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
McGreal C 2006. Missing keys, holes in fence and a single padlock: welcome to Congo’s nuclear plant, 23 November, (Accessed 15 June 2011).
Nilsen T, Kudrik I & Nikitin A, 1997. The Russian Northern Fleet Decommissioning of nuclear submarines Bellona Report 2:96. (Accessed 4 July 2011).
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Newmdb site of International Atomic Energy Agency
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Oldenburg C & Birkholzer J 2011. Comparative Assessment of Status and Opportunities for Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage and Radioactive Waste Disposal in North America, in Toth, F. (Ed) Geological Disposal of Carbon Dioixide and Radioactive Waste: a Comparative Assessment. Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 367 – 393.
Olgaard P 2006. Scientific and Technical Issues in the Management of Spent Fuel of Decommissioned Nuclear Submarines. NATO Science Series, Series II: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, vol. 215, pp. 361-367.
Ramana M V 2009. Nuclear Power: Economic, Safety, Health, and Environmental Issues of Near-Term Technologies Annual Review of Environment and Resources, vol. 34, pp 127-152.
Sovacool B K 2008. Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey Energy Policy vol. 36 no. 8, pp 2950-2963.
Shimada T, Oshima S & Sukegawa T 2010. Development of Safety Assessment Code for Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities (DecDose) Journal of Power and Energy Systems, vol. 4 no 1, pp 40-53.
Thomas S and Hall D 2009. The Financial crisis and Nuclear Power. PSIRU, Business School, University of Greenwich, UK.
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Information is regularly scanned, screened, filtered, carefully edited, and published for educational purposes. UNEP does not accept any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or any other quality of information and data published or linked to the site. Please read our privacy policy and disclaimer for further information.

Decommissioning of Nuclear Reactors original link

source: Nuclear Energy Institute.

August 2016

“Ten reactors have completed decommissioning safely to either the point of license termination or the point where the remaining activities are limited to management of an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). Currently, 18 commercial power reactors are in decommissioning, and several more will transition to this process over the next few years.”

“After closure of a nuclear power plant, the licensee has to reduce the residual radioactivity to safe levels. This will allow the NRC to release the property and permanently terminate the facility’s license. The site must be decommissioned within 60 years of the plant ceasing operations. The decommissioning process involves removing the used nuclear fuel from the reactor, placing it into the used fuel pool, and eventually into dry storage containers (which can be stored on-site or transported off-site); dismantling systems or components containing radioactive products (e.g., the reactor vessel); and cleaning up or dismantling contaminated materials from the facility. Contaminated materials can be disposed of in two ways: decontaminated on-site or removed and shipped to a waste-processing, storage or disposal facility.”

IAEA Estimates of Global Inventories of Radioactive Waste

Original Link for  full text download

Selected short quotes:


“It was considered worthwhile to produce a set of worldwide data that could be assessed to evaluate the legacy of the nuclear activities performed up to the transition between the twentieth and the twenty first century.

The assessment tries to cover the inventory of all the human produced radioactive material that can be considered to result from both military and civilian applications. This has caused remarkable difficulties since much of the data, particularly relating to military programmes, are not readily available. Consequently the data on the inventory of radioactive material should be considered as order-of-magnitude approximations. This report as a whole should be considered as a first iteration in a continuing process of updating and upgrading.

The accumulations of radioactive materials can be considered a burden for human society, both at present and in the future, since they require continuing monitoring and control. Knowing the amounts and types of such radioactive inventories can help in the assessment of the relative burdens. Knowledge of the national or regional radioactive waste inventory is necessary for planning management operations, including the sizing and design of conditioning, storage and disposal facilities. A global inventory, either of radioactive waste or of other environmental accumulations of radioactive material, could be used to provide a perspective on the requirements and burdens associated with their management, by means of comparisons with the burdens caused by other types of waste or other environmental threats.

The IAEA officer responsible for this publication was K. Hioki of the Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety.”

“The production of electricity by nuclear means has created radioactive residues which have to be carefully managed and accounted for because they are potentially hazardous to human health. Similar residues have been generated as a result of the defence programmes in several countries. The residues include solid and liquid radioactive waste from civilian nuclear power production and from the production of nuclear weapons and residues from the above surface or underground testing of nuclear weapons.”

“In most countries, high level solid radioactive waste that is the product of solidification of the liquid waste generated by the first extraction cycle in the reprocessing of spent fuel, including spent fuel that is declared to be waste, is currently being stored in purpose-built stores pending disposal deep underground. In many countries, some lower activity waste containing mainly comparatively short lived radionuclides is being disposed of in near surface repositories. Liquid radioactive waste is generally converted to a solid form suitable for disposal, but there are some exceptions.

In some cases, mainly in the past, some liquid radioactive waste, considered too active for environmental dispersal, in the absence of safer management solutions has been pumped underground within enclosed aquifers or mixed with cement and injected as sludge in a low- permeability formation. Cases exist where high level waste (HLW) and higher activity low and intermediate level waste (LILW) in liquid form have been stored in near surface underground tanks and, after some decades, are still being kept in that form.

Gaseous and liquid waste containing very low levels of radionuclides are discharged to the environment in the same way as other low level industrial pollutants. This practice is subject to close regulatory control and environmental monitoring to ensure that the hazards to the public are minimal.

Finally there are sites, either above or below the ground, used in the past for either nuclear weapon testing or other purposes, or with significant amounts of radioactive materials, , that are considered to require continuing surveillance and monitoring to control access to the radioactive material.”

“Accumulations of radioactive material can be considered a burden for human society, both at present and in the future, since they require some level of continuing control. Knowing the amounts and types of such radioactive inventories can help in the assessment of the relative burdens. Knowledge of the national or regional radioactive waste inventory is necessary for the planning of management operations, including the sizing and design of processing, storage and disposal facilities. A global inventory, of radioactive waste and other environmental accumulations of radioactive material, could be used to provide a perspective on the requirements associated with their management, by means of comparisons with other types of waste or other environmental threats.”

“In the past, reliable information on the radioactive waste production of military or defence programmes has been rather difficult to obtain. This difficulty may continue in the future; for example, military waste is not included within the scope of the Joint Convention. In some countries, defence waste is not even subject to the normal controls of the national regulatory authorities or may be mixed with the waste from civilian uses.

Information on other environmental accumulations of radioactive material, such as those at nuclear test sites and locations of past disposal operations of liquid waste, is also not always complete.

It is evident that, globally, information on radioactive waste and on other radioactive residues in the environment is not complete. For this reason an estimation approach has been adopted in this report, which intends to provide an approximate but comprehensive assessment of the global inventory of radioactive waste and other human generated accumulations of radioactive material in the environment. The inventory derived in this publication should be considered the result of a first iteration. More reliable estimates may become available in the coming years as a result of progress within the various international data collection mechanisms.”

“The amounts of mine and mill tailings accumulated worldwide are not known in detail, since this information is not reported by all Member States in a consistent and reliable way. However, estimates of the inventory of uranium mining and milling waste can be produced from consideration of the data on global uranium production. No equivalent data on thorium production are available, but the extraction of thorium has been relatively small in comparison with uranium. An additional uncertainty associated with such estimates is due to the fact that average uranium concentrations in mined ores has to be used to calculate the inventory of both mine and mill tailings. Since these values are not always available, the resulting average concentrations used to derive the amounts of tailings from the reported amounts of produced uranium are necessarily uncertain. Further, the values are distorted by the fact that early use of uranium in the US was largely with imported ores of higher quality. Additionally, the greater use of in situ leaching techniques has reduced the production of tailings. Finally, new mining techniques including the freeze drill system and the mining of higher grade ores has resulted in smaller mill tailings production [6]. The utilization of down-blended enriched weapons uranium and the use of mixed weapons plutonium and natural uranium has further complicated the picture. The vagaries of the uranium market including price changes has also influenced the amount of uranium mined. Therefore, estimations of future production are very uncertain.

The total amount of uranium produced worldwide up to the year 2004, is approximately 2.2 million tonnes2 [6].”

“In the late 1990s, there were two uranium mines operating in Australia: Ranger in the Northern Territory and Olympic Dam in South Australia. Together they generated about 3 million tonnes per year of tailings, containing about 70% of the radioactivity originally present in the ore – including almost all of the 230Th and 226Ra. The total quantity of tailings accumulated in Australia at that time was about 50 million tonnes, resulting from a total uranium production of about 70 000 tonnes.

In the United States of America, the accumulation of commercial mill tailings, generated up to the end of 1996, amounts to about 190 million tonnes with a volume of about 120 million m3 [7]. To estimate the accumulation of uranium mine and mill tailings generated by defence activities in the USA, a possible approach is to apply the estimated production of tailings per warhead to the total number of warheads produced in the country. Using the published estimates of 2000 tonnes of both mine and mill tailings for single warhead and 17 000 as the total number of warheads produced, about 34 million tonnes each of mine and mill tailing can be assumed to have been generated by defence programmes 3 [8]. Adding this amount to the estimated production of commercial mill tailings gives a total close to 220 million tonnes. Accepting the assumption used in [8], that mine tailings amounts are roughly the same as mill tailings, it is possible to estimate that about 220 million tonnes of mine residues exist in proximity to the mines.

“In addition to the waste generated by the nuclear fuel cycle front-end activities discussed in the preceding section, nuclear power generation causes the production of several kinds of radioactive waste, including spent reactor fuel (if it is declared waste), high level waste (HLW) that is generated mainly from the chemical reprocessing of spent fuel and low and intermediate level waste (LILW) that is generated as a result of reactor operations, reprocessing, decontamination, decommissioning and other fuel cycle activities.

The purpose of this publication is to produce global estimates of the amounts of residual radioactive material accumulated by nuclear activities up to the beginning of the 2000s and requiring continuing institutional controls. Despite the great progress achieved in many areas, particularly thank to the NEWMDB, some information is still open to question, since not all Member States have provided the required waste inventories. An additional uncertainty, due to the differences among classification systems used by various Member States has been also addressed by the NEWMDB by means of a matrix tool to normalize information submitted under a variety of classification systems. A number of promising activities aimed at improving the situation are currently going on at the international level [29, 30].
Official information about radioactivity in contaminated sites as a result of accidents or weapon testing is even more incomplete. As a result it was felt that exploring alternative approaches aimed at produced global estimates of the radioactive waste inventory and of radioactive material present in the environment was a worthwhile exercise.
The resulting estimates, which are based on broad simplifications, are characterised by unavoidable uncertainty. However, considering that they are not to be used for design purposes, for example for planning management activities, but simply to produce an order-of- magnitude assessment of the societal burden generated by nuclear activities, the exercise may help to place in a rational perspective the radiological and environmental burden generated by the first half century of nuclear activities. The estimates may be used for comparison with environmental burdens created by other means of energy production and other human activities and to provide some rationality to the societal controversy about nuclear energy.
This publication has to be considered as a first iteration to be revised and updated in the future as more reliable and comprehensive data become available.”