Low Level Radioactive Waste (LLW)

Low Level Radioactive Waste is waste that contains small amounts of radioactive content which typically comes from the decommissioning of nuclear power stations and from the oil and gas and mineral processing industries as well as science and research facilities, hospitals and manufacturing.

The waste is largely construction and demolition waste such as rubble, soils, crushed concrete, bricks and metals from the decommissioning of nuclear power plant buildings and infrastructure, small amounts of lightly contaminated miscellaneous wastes from maintenance and monitoring at these facilities such as plastic and metal and wastes from manufacturing activities, science and research facilities and hospitals where radioactive materials are used. The levels of radiation present in the waste materials are extremely low, and when handled in accordance with the site management procedures, the levels of exposure are safe for workers at the site, the local environment or members of the public.

It has been Government policy since 2007 for LLW to be disposed of into suitable landfill sites. This was the conclusion it came to after wide consultation. This policy preserves the life of the Low Level Waste Repository in Cumbria for LLW wastes with higher levels of activity that are not suitable for disposal in normal landfill sites. LLW has been accepted at ENRMF since 2011

The radioactive content of materials is measured in Becquerels per gram (Bq/g).

LLW has a radioactive content below 4,000 Bq/g of alpha activity or 12,000 Bq/g of beta or gamma activity. The waste accepted at ENRMF currently and that which would be accepted in the proposed western extension of the landfill is at the lower end of the activity range and typically has an activity of less than 200 Bq/g.

A series of risk assessments have been used to demonstrate that even under unlikely situations the dose from radiation experienced by the public and workers does not exceed safe thresholds determined in guidance and legislation. The radiological dose that is received by workers at the site and any members of the public who may be in the vicinity is strictly controlled. The waste that is accepted at ENRMF only results in radioactive exposure at the perimeter of the site that is a fraction of the exposure that everyone receives every day from natural background sources of radiation. Radiation exposure assessments use cautious assumptions to determine the amount of radioactivity that can be disposed of safely and considers scenarios that are unlikely to occur, such as dropped loads. The use of cautious assumptions ensures that the doses that are received are lower than predicted.

Augean has extensive experience of safely handling LLW at the ENRMF and can demonstrate through monitoring results that it has done so without any adverse effects on the environment or risks to the local community.

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