Packaging includes all the containers that surround the waste product and represent a radionuclide migration barrier, at least for the duration of interim storage. Packaging also ensures easy, safe handling of the waste. A waste package may consist of several layers of containers and one container can enclose several smaller containers. A distinction is made between containers that directly enclose the waste product and all other containers, which are termed additional containers.
Vitrified high-level waste and spent fuel are placed in large, thick-walled transport and storage containers. Immediately before emplacement in the repository, they have to be transferred into disposal containers.
Low- and intermediate-level waste is processed into a form suitable for disposal immediately after it is produced. Liquid waste is solidified, compressible waste is compacted and combustible waste is burned. The resulting ash (and the smoke filters) require to be disposed of as radioactive waste. These wastes are generally cemented with additives into steel drums.
Example of a Finnish container for spent fuel
(image: M. Zürcher)