high-level radioactive waste
Definition High-level radioactive waste is a self-explanatory term for highly radioactive waste material resulting from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, including liquid waste produced directly in reprocessing and any solid material derived from such liquid waste that contains fission products in sufficient concentrations; and other highly radioactive material that is determined, consistent with existing law, to require permanent isolation.
Note on terminology Whilst high-level radiatioactive waste is nearly as popular a phrase as high-level waste–the term used in wikipedia, the latter’s nonspecificity opens its use as a synonym for high-level infectious waste, high level carcinogenic waste, etc. Hot waste is less preferred as hot can refer to physical temperature, not radioactivity.
The global accumulation of “hot” waste is a “hot” political issue, as there is no place to put the HLRW1, estimated at > 1100 metric tons2 in long-term storage3; proposed solutions to the global HLRW problem include burial in long-term storage–e.g., in the Yucca Mountains4, dumping it into the ocean-sealed in permanent titanium casings, and firing it off into space-directly into the sun NY Times 14/3/95, C1
1Most of which is produced by nuclear reactors in the form of plutonium 239 2And expected to climb to 2000 tons in the next decade 3Plutonium has a half-life of 24,360 4Nevada, US–which is composed of volcanic ash, or other geologic site, turning it into a glassy compound and burial, burning plutonium in highly efficient nuclear reactor, converting 239Pu into other elements using particle accelerators. In the US, the concept of “central storage” is the most discussed option with the Yucca Mountains in Nevada being a favoured site for constructing a permanent storage facility, it has not progressed beyond rhetoric; Most nuclear power stations have run out of storage space.
Synonyms High-level waste, hot waste
Reference Dept of Energy – Radioactive Waste Management Manual – DOE M 435.1-1