Radioactive Waste Management

The Radioactive Waste RW management team, as part of the Radiation Protection group:

  • Is responsible of the reception of radioactive and mixed waste ( i.e. waste presenting the radiological hazard combined with other hazards) produced in CERN’s installations;
  • Manages, processes, and performs the disposal of radioactive and mixed waste;
  • Develops and implements waste handling procedures to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations and with the requirements of the final repositories in the host states (France and Switzerland).

Waste minimisation is applied during design, operation and decommissioning of CERN’s accelerators and experiments. HSE-RP pursues innovative scientific studies in order to develop tools for the assessment and demonstration to Authorities if installed equipment & material are radioactive or not. This requires extensive simulations and computing resources and tools (e.g. FLUKA, Actiwiz) which are corroborated by a large number of measurements and samples on the field.

rad waste
Loading a transport with packaged very low level radioactive waste


Radioactive waste management strategy

Treatment of radioactive waste is performed at CERN with the aim to comply with the acceptance criteria of the host States final repositories and to comply with the international regulation of transport on public road (ADR). The treatment consists mainly in volume reduction and packaging of the radioactive waste according to the requirements of the final repositories.  Minimization of volume is performed with industrial equipment (press, shears, shredders, etc.) in order to minimize the disposal costs.

Radioactive waste that needs temporary storage prior to its disposal towards the final repositories can be stored temporarily at CERN under CERN’s supervision and according to state of the art storage procedures.

Future radioactive or mixed waste is regularly estimated with the help of the different CERN groups and the support of the other sections of the Radiation Protection group in order to plan the temporary storage needs and the disposal campaigns.

Processing of an RW item by the press shears

CERN defines the priority for disposal of radioactive waste taking into consideration (in order of importance):

  • Existence and availability of the elimination pathways;
  • Possible hazards connected to the temporary storage at CERN of the radioactive waste;
  • Availability of storage space;
  • Radioactive decay (especially important in case of presence of short lived radionuclides, like for example in case of Be-7 in the ventilation filters).

Reuse and recycling of radioactive material prior to its declaration as waste is fostered, as much as reasonably and economically feasible.

Declaration and disposal of a radioactive waste

In order to dispose of radioactive waste, please proceed in the following way:

  1. The owner must ensure that the waste is registered in TREC by the following functions
    • in the buffer zone, “Deposit waste”;
    • outside of the buffer zones, “Declare waste”.
  2. A notification is automatically sent to the RP group for a radiological check and, once validated, the transport request is automatically generated.

Prior to the declaration of waste, please ensure that the waste is respecting the “waste acceptance criteria” (CADRA- EDMS n. 1364231) and the annexes therein.

The ownership of the waste is transferred from the original department to HSE once the waste has arrived to the radioactive waste reception facility and has been accepted by HSE-RP-RW. The change of ownership is formalized by the existence in TREC  of the acceptance of waste by HSE-RP-RW (RW Check).

For any information, please use the email contact below.