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Nuclear Waste Disposal Under Scrutiny

US nuclear waste managers are facing a challenging job when asked to dispose of radioactive waste as per government legislation. Various waste management groups are now urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to change the limitations to US nuclear waste classifications by simplifying them and following an international model. The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements states that the confusion stems from unclear, inconsistent definitions of the existing nuclear waste classifications. The Council proposes that the US establish three classes of waste: exempt waste, low-level waste, and high- level waste. These classes would be based on chemical, physical, and radioactive properties, to ensure that risk to human health and the environment is minimized and that waste can be stored with the proper amount of containment. While these recommendations may take years to turn into legislation, one positive point to note is that the United States has used its experience in the nuclear field to simplify waste classifications for countries recently emerging with nuclear capabilities. See: http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i34/Nuclear-Waste-Long-History-Confusing.htmlHistory-Confusing.html

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