NEWMDB - The IAEA Nuclear Waste Management Database IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency

The Net-Enabled Radioactive Waste Management Database (NEWMDB)

The NEWMDB contains information on national radioactive waste management programmes, radioactive waste inventories, radioactive waste disposal, relevant laws and regulations, waste management policies, and plans and activities.

The principal objectives for the NEWMDB are to:

  • improve access to radioactive waste management data;

  • provide a system for maintaining the international "memory" of such information;

  • provide readily accessible reference material to both the Member States and the Agency's Technical Assistance programme, Waste Management Technical Review and Assessment Programme (WATRP), and other programmes;

  • provide a means to research and assess the development and implementation of national systems for radioactive waste management in Agency Member States, and

  • provide a tool to Member States that supports the reporting requirements of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (Joint Convention).

Data Sources

The sources of data in the NEWMDB and their relative accuracy are extremely important considerations. NEWMDB data are considered primary information, because the data are supplied by designated government representatives who have both access and authorization to the information in their respective countries. A small amount of data is supplied directly by the IAEA based on publicly available sources. A secondary source of data for Member States that do not report are the National Reports to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Russia, Korea, and China, are contracting members to the Joint Convention and make their information available to the public. These so-called National Reports are also considered primary data, because they are officially sanctioned by the Member State governments.

Waste Matrices and Translation Tables

Typical Waste Matrix

NEWMDB is based on a structure that is meant to facilitate flexible reporting. This is necessary because regulation of radioactive waste varies greatly from country to country. Also, the degree of detail provided is a choice of the country. While some Member States provide high levels of detail concerning their waste management programs, some provide only summary information.

Furthermore, because of the variation in radioactive waste regulations, definitions used by one country are usually incompatible with the majority of other countries (see Waste Classification). This leads to a problem when trying to sum or compare the inventories from country to country, from regions (i.e., South America or European Union), or when attempting to determine a global total.

Therefore, an important part of NEWMDB reporting is the Waste Class Matrix. The Waste Class Matrix provides each Member State a method of reporting their waste classes along with a translation into the IAEA proposed standard classification scheme (click here for the IAEA report). Inventory data are then entered according to each respective country's "native" waste classification scheme, and then translated into the IAEA standard classes for comparisons. A short graphical overview of how this works can be found by clicking the button below.

Framework Component

After defining their waste matrix (or multiple matrices), each Member State builds a framework that represents the physical radioactive waste management infrastructure in their respective country. The framework has the following basic structure:

  1. Group
  2. Sites
  3. Facilities


Groups are necessary as the primary level of the Framework, because each Waste Matrix is assigned to a Group. If there is only one Waste Matrix, then only one Group is required. Groups are also a convenient way for a Member State to differentiate between major regulatory or physical divisions, such as between Government and Commercial, Past Practices and Current, and also for accounting of the waste residing in other countries, such as occurs with reprocessing.


Sites, as the name implies, is generally used to list the major waste management sites/locations within a country. Although this is the case for most submissions to the NEWMDB, some contributors use Sites to define "virtual" agglomerations, such as "All NPPs" or similar, when there are simply too many sites to list, or when waste from each individual site is not tracked at the National level.

Waste data are typically reported and tracked at the Site-level, although they may be reported at the individual Facility-level instead.


Facilities, like Sites, is intended to list the individual waste management facilities at or on a given Site. Facilities are grouped into 3 categories according to their function:

  1. Processing
  2. Storage
  3. Disposal

Facilities may have more than one function (e.g., processing and storage, storage and disposal, or all three). Also, the physical details of the facility, such as type (i.e., building, trench, etc.) are recorded.

Waste Data

Waste Data are recorded either at the Site-level or at the Facility-level. Reporting at the Site-level is most common. At the discretion of the Country Coordinator, the data are reported based on their physical form (i.e., liquids and solids), treatment/conditioning status, and origin. All waste data are reported by volume using the units of cubic meters, except for Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources (DSRS). These are reported in groups by nuclide and activity level.