«The Management System for the Processing, Handling and Storage of Radioactive Waste Safety Guide No. GS-G-3.3 THE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR THE ...»
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1. Radioactive waste disposal — Safety measures — Management.
2. Radioactive wastes — Management. I. International Atomic Energy Agency. II. Series.
The IAEA’s Statute authorizes the Agency to establish safety standards to protect health and minimize danger to life and property — standards which the IAEA must use in its own operations, and which a State can apply by means of its regulatory provisions for nuclear and radiation safety. A comprehensive body of safety standards under regular review, together with the IAEA’s assistance in their application, has become a key element in a global safety regime.
In the mid-1990s, a major overhaul of the IAEA’s safety standards programme was initiated, with a revised oversight committee structure and a systematic approach to updating the entire corpus of standards. The new standards that have resulted are of a high calibre and reflect best practices in Member States. With the assistance of the Commission on Safety Standards, the IAEA is working to promote the global acceptance and use of its safety standards.
Safety standards are only effective, however, if they are properly applied in practice. The IAEA’s safety services — which range in scope from engineering safety, operational safety, and radiation, transport and waste safety to regulatory matters and safety culture in organizations — assist Member States in applying the standards and appraise their effectiveness. These safety services enable valuable insights to be shared and I continue to urge all Member States to make use of them.
Regulating nuclear and radiation safety is a national responsibility, and many Member States have decided to adopt the IAEA’s safety standards for use in their national regulations. For the Contracting Parties to the various international safety conventions, IAEA standards provide a consistent, reliable means of ensuring the effective fulfilment of obligations under the conventions.
The standards are also applied by designers, manufacturers and operators around the world to enhance nuclear and radiation safety in power generation, medicine, industry, agriculture, research and education.
The IAEA takes seriously the enduring challenge for users and regulators everywhere: that of ensuring a high level of safety in the use of nuclear materials and radiation sources around the world. Their continuing utilization for the benefit of humankind must be managed in a safe manner, and the IAEA safety standards are designed to facilitate the achievement of that goal.
1.1. Radioactive waste (referred to in this Safety Guide as waste) must be managed in such a way as to avoid imposing an undue burden on future generations; that is, the generations that produce the waste have to seek and apply safe, practicable and environmentally acceptable solutions for its long term management (Ref. , para. 3.29). Management systems play an important role in applying such solutions, and should be implemented for all stages of waste management, from waste generation to waste disposal. Management systems for managing and controlling radioactive waste are subject to the requirements established in Ref. . Recommendations on meeting these requirements are presented in this Safety Guide and in Ref. .
1.2. This Safety Guide uses the term ‘management system’ instead of ‘quality assurance’. The term management system reflects and includes the evolution in the approach from the initial concept of ‘quality control’ (controlling the quality of products) through ‘quality assurance’ (the system to ensure the quality of products) to ‘quality management’ (the system to manage quality). The management system is the set of interrelated or interacting elements that establishes policies and objectives and that enables those objectives to be achieved in a safe, efficient and effective way.
The requirements for the management system established in Ref.  and the recommendations in the accompanying Safety Guide, Application of the Management System for Facilities and Activities , supersede the earlier code on quality assurance1.
1.3. A management system should be used to ensure that adequate measures are in place to address technical issues relating to safety, protection of health, protection of the environment, security, quality and economics. Solutions to technical problems are provided by means of such processes as design and research and development, which are controlled by the management system.
The management, in the management system:
1 INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Quality Assurance for Safety in Nuclear Power Plants and other Nuclear Installations, Code and Safety Guides Q1–Q14, Safety Series No. 50-C/SG-Q, IAEA, Vienna (1996).
Technical issues may also have to be addressed so that managerial functions such as independent verification and checking may be carried out.
1.4. Managing radioactive waste involves a variety of technical and managerial activities and may extend over a very long period of time. These characteristics present a series of challenges to the development and implementation of effective management systems for a waste management programme, and give rise to the need for an integrated management system to deal with all matters that might affect the management of radioactive waste, including the financial provisions to carry it out. The following aspects warrant particular consideration in developing a management system for programmes
for waste management facilities and activities:
(a) By definition, waste is material for which no further use is foreseen. The provision of funds and the organizational arrangements to manage waste could be given inadequate attention if they were to become decoupled from the benefits drawn from the activity that generates the waste. The organization and funding of the necessary waste management activities could be much more difficult to put into place later.
(b) Waste can be managed safely on an interim basis, in many cases for extended periods. As a consequence, the selection and implementation of definitive solutions may be postponed by a series of short term deferrals for additional assessment of the options.
(c) If definite end points for waste have not been selected, it may be difficult to define the preferable form of the waste material to be produced and held during storage, and the acceptable form for final disposition. In such a situation, the selection of methods to treat and package waste should balance two concerns. First, the foreclosure of future disposal options (e.g. by choosing to produce an interim waste form that is both unsuitable for disposal and difficult to convert to a form that is suitable for disposal) should be avoided. Second, uncertainty about the end point should not be used as a rationale for not taking steps to ensure that the waste is managed in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner pending disposal.
2 (d) Under the ‘polluter pays’ principle, the organization that generates the waste is responsible for ensuring that the waste is managed properly. In some jurisdictions, ownership (and hence ultimate responsibility) for waste is transferred when the waste changes hands. In other jurisdictions, waste always remains the responsibility of the original generator. Care should be taken to keep the responsibility clear and fulfilled at all times.
(e) Responsibility for waste for which the generator can no longer reasonably be held responsible commonly reverts to governmental authorities. The transfer and delineation of the limits of this responsibility, with its attendant costs, can become blurred if care is not exercised.
(f) Public and political sensitivities to decisions about the production and management of radioactive waste can impose constraints on the management arrangements, timings and technical decisions that are feasible.
(g) Waste may be managed by a series of organizations that carry out the sequence of required processing steps. For example, waste generated by one organization may be transferred to another for pretreatment, treatment and conditioning, to another for storage, and to yet another for disposal. Each of these organizations may have its own management system, so that the waste may be controlled under a series of different management arrangements. This could present challenges to maintaining continuous active oversight of the waste, which may be exacerbated by the potentially long term nature of some phases of waste management activities.
(h) Management systems for all waste management activities should encourage the adoption of unified approaches and solutions and international best practices because of the need to ensure continuity between successive human generations, and the uncertainty in the long term of organizational, national and international structures.
(i) The organizations involved in waste management may be publicly or privately owned, or a combination of both. The respective interests, driving factors and responsibilities of different types of organization may present challenges in harmonizing them into a coherent overall management system for a waste management programme. Whatever the arrangements are, safety and environmental protection should always be paramount.
(j) The long term nature of waste management operations means that
particular attention should be paid to:
(i) Maintaining public confidence that management supervision will be continuous;
1.5. This Safety Guide is issued as one of several IAEA safety standards that deal with management systems for the safety of facilities and activities. It provides recommendations on how to meet the requirements in Ref.  for waste management activities, from waste generation to storage, and is supplementary to the general recommendations provided in Ref. . This Safety Guide has a companion standard  that provides recommendations on the development of management systems for the disposal of radioactive waste.