Orphan wastes have properties preventing them from being managed according to existing or currently planned management routes, or lack characterisation so that their management is uncertain. The identification of new management opportunities for orphan wastes could realise significant benefits by reducing the number of processing facilities required, reducing waste volumes, reducing hazard or leading to the development of centres of excellence for the processing of certain types of orphan wastes.
Information on the characteristics of orphan waste existing at nuclear licensed sites across the UK has been collated and a database developed to act as a repository for the information gathered. The database provides a capability to analyse the data and to explore possible treatment technologies for each orphan waste type. Thirty five distinct orphan waste types have been defined and possible treatment options considered. Treatment technologies (including chemical, high temperature, immobilisation and physical technologies) that could be applied to one or more of the generic orphan waste streams have been identified. Wiring diagrams have been used to highlight the waste treatment / lifecycle management options that are available for each of the generic orphan groups as well as identifying areas for further research and development.
This work has identified the potential for optimising the management of orphan wastes in a number of areas, and many potential opportunities were identified. Such opportunities could be investigated by waste managers at waste producing nuclear sites, to facilitate the development of new management routes for orphan wastes.