- Low-level waste (LLW) includes radioactively contaminated protective clothing, tools, filters, rags, medical tubes, and many other items
- Waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR) refers to certain waste byproducts that result from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has distinguished from high-level waste (described below)
- High-level waste (HLW) is "irradiated" or used nuclear reactor fuel
- Uranium mill tailings are the residues remaining after the processing of natural ore to extract uranium and thorium
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not regulate all sources of radioactivity; see Who Regulates Radioactive Materials and Radiation Exposure for details.
For general information, see the How We Regulate page. For details, see the following:
- Low-Level Waste Disposal
- High-Level Waste Disposal
- Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel
- Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel
Regulation of some activities associated with radioactive waste is covered under either the Nuclear Materials or Nuclear Reactors regulatory programs. For example, regulation of uranium mill waste is covered under the Nuclear Materials program. (See Uranium Recovery.)
The Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) develops and implements NRC policy for the regulation and safe management and disposal of spent fuel and HLW; develops guidance for environmental compliance, and oversees the decommissioning and cleanup of contaminated sites, safe management and disposal of LLW, and uranium recovery activities. The NRC's Regional Offices (Region I - Northeast, Region II - Southeast, Region III - Midwest, and Region IV - West/Southwest) implement these programs in the States for which they are responsible. Regulation of LLW disposal is regulated by both the NRC and Agreement States, and waste regulation is also supported by the agency's Radioactive Waste Safety Research program.