Disposal of Radioactive Waste


Radioactive waste must be completely isolated from the environment hence it is packed in metal or concrete drums (depending on the contents) at the point of departure and transported by road under stringent security measures to Vaalputs.
Vaalputs staff inspecting the ground

At Vaalputs, the drums are carefully inspected and monitored for conformance, before being packed, by type, into 8m deep trenches.

Within two months, the drums are covered with a layer of soil from the area followed by a layer of compacted clay. Once the trench is full, a further half meter of soil is overlaid so that the natural vegetation can once again establish itself.

The radioactive waste is carefully handled and managed to ensure utmost safety for the employees, the community and the environment. Every employee is thoroughly trained in all safety aspects and regularly monitored for exposure to radiation. The soil, water, plants and animals in the area are also regularly monitored.

Only solid or solidified low level radioactive waste appropriately characterised, conditioned and packaged in accordance with the repository waste acceptance criteria is accepted for disposal at Vaalputs.

Low level waste (LLW) consists mainly of trash slightly contaminated with radioactive materials, for example used protective clothing and floor-covering material. This is compacted into steel drums. Low level waste (LLW) is also packaged in concrete containers comprising of more active materials such as filter cartridges, demineraliser resins and contaminated metallic components. These are mixed with carefully formulated concrete and sealed into concrete containers. All operations are conducted in accordance with international codes and standards as well as facility nuclear installation licenses issued by the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR).

NRWDI will consistently and continuously apply an integrated and accountable radioactive waste management and disposal approach, in order to ensure that no undue burden is placed on future generations due to past, present and future involvement in nuclear programs.

Disposal Solution