Like all industries, the thermal generation of electricity produces wastes. Whatever fuel is used, these wastes must be managed in ways which safeguard human health and minimise their impact on the environment.
Nuclear wastes are neither particularly hazardous nor hard to manage relative to other toxic industrial wastes. The amount of radioactive wastes is very small relative to wastes produced by fossil fuel electricity generation. Safe methods for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste are technically proven.
Treatment and conditioning processes are used to convert radioactive waste materials into a form that is suitable for its subsequent management.
Most low-level radioactive waste is typically sent to land-based disposal immediately following its packaging. Many long-term waste management options have been investigated worldwide which seek to provide publicly acceptable, safe and environmentally sound solutions to the management of intermediate-level waste and high-level radioactive waste. Meanwhile storage options are developed.
There have been several proposal for regional and international repositories for disposal of high-level nuclear wastes and several projects are being investigated.
There are a number of pervasive myths regarding both radiation and radioactive wastes. Some lead to regulation and actions which are counter-productive to human health and safety.
Decommissioning costs for nuclear power plants, including disposal of associated wastes, are reducing and contribute only a small fraction of the total cost of electricity generation. Proven techniques and equipment are available to dismantle nuclear facilities.