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How much radioactive waste is there in the world?

Blog posted by: , 2 August 2019 – Categories: International activitiesWaste management.

Front cover of IAEA report

Have you ever wondered how much radioactive waste exists in different countries? Or if there are differences in how countries are planning to manage or dispose of it?

These are some of the things I discussed at a recent meeting of technical experts in radioactive waste and spent fuel management at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).

Engaging with the IAEA and member countries

One of the most fascinating parts of my role as the National Waste Inventory Manager is engaging with international peers in the field of radioactive waste and spent fuel management and sharing best practice.

In July, I gathered with 25 technical experts from other member countries such as Canada, France, United States and Spain to discuss the current status of radioactive waste and spent fuel inventory management at the IAEA’s Technical Meeting on Status and Trends in Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management. One of the things we discussed was the update to the UK’s national radioactive waste and materials inventory being undertaken now.

The UK is a member state of the IAEA, and one of our obligations is to submit information on the inventory of our radioactive waste and spent fuel and on the progress of waste management programmes. One IAEA initiative has been the development of a summary ‘Status and Trends’ report to describe:

  • A global overview of radioactive waste and spent fuel inventories
  • A summary of individual countries’ approaches to waste management
  • A summary of global trends and challenges in radioactive waste and spent fuel management

In 2018, the first ‘Status and Trends’ report was published and the UK is currently inputting into an updated report.

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