nated paper, rags, rubber gloves, and protective clothing; hardware and tools; laboratory glass and plastic; syringes; filters; animal excreta, parts, and carcasses; cleanup materials and irradiated components from nuclear power plants, and even sealed sources that have outlived their utility. An important exclusion from the provisions of the act is radioactive waste generated by the U.S. Department of Energy. The national laboratories are not dependent on the state in which they are located for disposal of radioactive waste. Sixty-five percent of all LLRW is produced and disposed of at the federal level (Coates et al., 1992).

In 1992 waste disposal operators reported receiving over 1,700,000 ft3 (48,000 m3)of LLRW, generating a shade over 1 million curies (Ci) of activity (Fuchs and McDonald, 1993). In the United States, such LLRW accounts for about 85 percent of all radioactive waste by volume but only about 1 percent by activity (Hendee, 1993). Table A-1 and Figure A-1 (adapted from Fuchs and McDonald, 1993) break out those totals by the type of generator: academic, which includes university hospitals and research facilities of all types; government; industrial, including pharmaceutical manufacturers; medical, which encompasses hospitals and clinics, nonuniversity research facilities, and private offices; and utility, which primarily includes the 76 active commercial nuclear power reactors. Industrial sources provided over half of the waste by volume, and utilities contributed over 85 percent of the radioactivity. Medical and academic sources generated less than one-half of one percent of the radioactivity and only 4 percent of the total volume.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (U.S. NRC) has subclassified LLRW into classes A, B, and C for the purposes of setting disposal standards (10 CFR 61). On the basis of concentration, half-life, and stability of the waste form, the regulations demand increasing levels of physical security as the radionuclides become longer-lived or more concentrated. Ninety-five percent of all LLRW and nearly all medical LLRW fall in Class A, the lowest level of security. Even at that

TABLE A-1 LLRW Received at Commercial Disposal Sites in the United States in 1992

Generator Category

Volume (ft3)

Activity (Ci)




















SOURCE: Fuchs and McDonald, 1993.

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