The materials and components that present residual activity after their operational lifetime in CERN’s accelerators or experiments become radioactive waste if their reuse is no longer possible or envisaged. By the appropriate choice of the material used in the construction of accelerators and neighbouring infrastructures, as well as by the optimisation of the beam parameters in the accelerators, CERN strives to minimize the activation in materials and the consequent production of radioactive waste.
Radioactive waste produced at CERN is disposed of towards the elimination pathways existing in the host States, France and Switzerland, according to the established procedures and the regulations. Before being disposed of the radioactive waste can be temporarily stored and treated on CERN site, under the strict control of the HSE unit.
The characteristics of the radioactive waste of CERN is very different from those produced at nuclear power plants: the specific activity is considerably lower, the half-lives of the radionuclides are shorter and, apart some specific cases, the radioactive waste does not present contamination risks (the radioactivity is “fixed” in the mass of the material).