Dumping of Radioactive Waste at Sea

The Report of the United Nations Conference on Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972 defined the principles for environmental protection, specifically for the assessment and control of marine pollution. The principles for assessment and control of marine pollution were forwarded to an Inter-Governmental Conference held in London in 1972 which adopted the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (the London Convention 1972) which entered into force on 30 August 1975.

The Contracting Parties to the London Convention 1972 agreed to promote the effective control of all sources of pollution of the marine environment and to take all practicable steps to prevent the pollution of the sea by dumping of waste and other matter that is liable to create hazards to human health, to harm living resources and marine life. Contracting Parties designated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the competent international body in matters related to sea disposal of radioactive waste and entrusted the IAEA with specific responsibilities.

The IAEA was mandated to develop the definition of radioactive waste and recommendations for special permits to limit the impact of the disposal operation under continuing review. A definition of radioactive waste unsuitable for disposal at sea and recommendations were given in the IAEA Report of 1986 (IAEA, 1986). The IAEA has reviewed the inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea in two documents (IAEA, 1991, IAEA, 1999) where more detailed information can be found.

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