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Recycling and re-use of radioactive material

A report on the results of a study funded by the European Commission, DG XI, has recently been published. This examined the feasibility of recycling or re-using contaminated radioactive or activated waste materials arising from routine and decommissioning operations in nuclear...
A report on the results of a study funded by the European Commission, DG XI, has recently been published. This examined the feasibility of recycling or re-using contaminated radioactive or activated waste materials arising from routine and decommissioning operations in nuclear plants within the controlled nuclear sector.

The review comprised an estimate of the amounts of low-level waste (LLW) concrete, steel, copper and aluminium which may arise as waste materials and the relevant time scales. Detailed studies of 12 possible scenarios are contained in the report for the utilisation of this material and, from the results of these analyses, a strategic evaluation of the feasibility of controlled release recycling within the nuclear sector has been made.

The report contains the following sections:

- Assessment of the quantities of LLW arising from nuclear operations within the European Community;
- Assessment of scenarios for the recycle/re-use of materials in the nuclear sector;
- Discussion of strategy related issues for controlled release recycling;
- Conclusions and recommendations.

The report concludes that the most likely forms of controlled release recycling that could be carried out economically are those of steel recycling by melting and concrete recycling by crushing. The recycling of copper is considered unfeasible due to the nature of the decontamination and refinement processes required. Similarly the recycling of aluminium within the nuclear industry would also be unfeasible. Recycling for unrestricted release would be the most likely form of aluminium recycling to be carried out.
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