Nuclear wastes are treated with extra attention as they are radioactive in nature. Any material is known to be radioactive if and only if it is either affected by radioactive reactions or has the nature of being radioactive in its character. All radioactive waste decays after a certain period of time. This however depends on the half-life of the nucleus of that particular material.
Therefore, radioactive wastes/ nuclear wastes have three categories, which depends totally on radioactivity level:
1. High-Level Waste: This requires maximum care and protective storage. It is kept where it can be stored in a cold condition. The main source is the nuclear plant where uranium fuel is burned. The fuel is discarded as waste can also be qualified as HLL. An excessive amount of attention and care must be provided while working on the materials.
2. Intermediate Level Waste: This much less threatening than the HLW. But this requires protection and some mind of shielding too. It has much higher radioactivity than the LLW but lesser than HLW. They consist of small materials like chemical sludges, metal fuel cladding, etc.
3. Low-Level Waste: This is the least harmful one out of all of these. They have much lower radioactivity. The number of LLW that can be found surrounding is much higher than the previous two. They comprise medical wastes from hospitals, clothing items, or objects that have a rare touch of radioactivity in them.
Management of Nuclear waste:
1. The first step taken is the treatment that alters the water that is removed from the plant through the filtration process and chemical treatments.
2. The waste collected should be transferred safely to the dumping areas. That is done through solidification of materials (LLW and ILW) in cement or is frozen and fixed into a glass matrix(HLW) to avoid contamination while transporting.
3. Extreme isolating conditions followed by retrieval circumstances are two factors that are taken into account while storing the waste.
4. A nuclear waste is discarded completely when it has changed into a completely non-radioactive material after multiple years of decay.