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Solutions to the “nuclear legacy” problems

 РОСАТОМ » Strategy implementation » Integrated solution for accumulated nuclear legacy problems and ensuring nuclear and radiation safety » Solutions to the “nuclear legacy” problems

Oleg Kryukov
Director for Public Policy on Radioactive Waste, Spent Nuclear Fuel and Nuclear Decommissioning

– In recent years, ROSATOM has made serious efforts to solve the “nuclear legacy” problems. How effectively, do you think, were the “legacy” problems solved in 2013? What are the main results of the year?

– If the situation is assessed in general, the main result of our work is the achievement of economic efficiency in executing works at the “legacy” facilities. We have managed to reduce by three to four times the unit cost of work in the key areas of RAW and SNF management and nuclear decommissioning. For example, in 2009, the cost of rehabilitation of one square metre of radiation-contaminated territory was RUB 8,000; in 2013, the same work was done for RUB 2,000.

In 2013, all plans and obligations related to the “legacy” facilities were fulfilled. Commissioning of Phase One of the RWDF of 20,000 cubic metres capacity at the site of the Urals Electrochemical Combine can be emphasised. 246 SFAs of VVER-1000 reactors and 1,701 SFAs of RBMK-1000 reactors were taken from the Russian NPPs and placed in centralised storage at FSUE MCC. Shipment of SNFs from Russian sites of research reactors for recycling at FSUE PA Mayak was increased: 34 tonnes of fuel were shipped and nearly 32 tonnes were recycled.

– In 2013, the Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Back-end was established. What are its main tasks?

– The Division is charged with two global tasks. The first is to ensure the maximum economic and ecological efficiency in solving the “nuclear legacy” problems for the state. To this end, we need to not only create large-scale capabilities and facilities for recycling spent fuel and waste and nuclear decommissioning, but also to implement the production and technological solutions and technologies which will ensure the competitiveness of our services in terms of price and quality as compared to existing foreign rivals. At the present time, we have implemented integrated programmes for efficiency improvement of the Division’s enterprises, which are aimed at cost reduction, development of technologies to reduce costs and the launching of new products and services.

The second global task is to develop commercial activities, not only within the country, but also in foreign markets. The Division’s strategy includes a programme of building up volumes of commercial proceeds at the expense of entering the international markets.

– What are plans for 2014 and in mid-term?

– The key target of the next year is to prepare a concept of the new target programme on solving the “nuclear legacy” problems for the period up to 2025. This programme will ensure continuity of the works started in 2008-2015, increasing the pace of elimination of shutdown nuclear and radiation hazardous facilities left over from military programmes of the past, ensuring unconditionally environmental, nuclear and radiation safety as a priority of the socioeconomic development of Russia, and ensuring the rights of citizens to favourable environment and environmental safety, which are stipulated in the Constitution of the Russian Federation. Approach to solving the “nuclear legacy” problems

Finding the solution to the problem of the “nuclear legacy” of past economic and defence activities is one of the main areas of NRS efforts. Developing nuclear ammunition and the operation of NPPs in the USSR resulted in large accumulated volumes of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, which were not securely disposed of.

In the mid-2000s, the leadership of the country and the nuclear industry made a decision that it was impossible to further postpone solving the “nuclear legacy” problems. The FTP “Nuclear and Radiation Safety in 2008 and until 2015” adopted in 2007 provides for a set of measures aimed at the consistent elimination of the “nuclear legacy”.

In 2011, Federal Law No. 190-FZ “On the Radioactive Waste Management and on Amendment of Certain Legal Acts of the Russian Federation” was adopted. It allowed building up a legal basis for doing away with the “nuclear legacy” in the long term.

In 2012, the Government of the Russian Federation approved the sub-programme “Nuclear and Radiation Safety in 2016 and until 2020” (FTP NRS-2) within the governmental programme “Development of the Power and Industry Complex of the Russian Federation”. Building up the unified national RAW management system

In the framework of the Federal Law “On the Radioactive Waste Management,” the Unified National System for Radioactive Waste Management (UNS RAW) is being developed in Russia.

Fig. RAW management flow chart

Main results of 2013:

  • 17 resolutions of the Government of Russia and other regulatory documents on certain issues of RAW management were drafted;
  • FSUE RosRAO completed the work to build civil engineering structures under the governmental defence order worth over RUB 1 billion;
  • one of the key milestones of building up the Unified National System RAW Management, i.e. drafting of local RAW management strategies by the sector’s enterprises, was completed;
  • a safety assessment for conformance to the IAEA safety standard requirements was completed regarding the LRW management practices employing the deep well injection technique. The IAEA experts believe the assessment results are mainly positive;
  • the initial registration of RAW was started (to be completed in 2014) in the framework of implementation of the Resolution of the Russian Government No. 767 of 25 July 2012; the initial RAW registration was done in 44 organisations;
  • Phase One of the Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility (RWDF) of 20,000 m3 capacity commissioned at JSC Urals Electrochemical Combine;
  • special reserve fund No. 5 has been set up in ROSATOM to finance the expenses for RAW disposal in accordance with FZ-190 “On the Radioactive Waste Management and on Amendment of Certain Legal Acts of the Russian Federation”;
  • implementation of the investment programme of the National Operator for Radioactive Waste Management – design and construction of RAW disposal facilities – has been started.

Table. Accumulated RAW, as of 31.12.2013

RAW categorySRW (million t)LRW (million m3)
Low-level waste 73.668 426.01
Intermediate-level waste 0.608 2.097
High level waste 0.0137 0.105
Total 74.2897 428.212

Table. RAW generated, as of 31.12.2013

RAW categorySRW (million t)LRW (million m3)
Low-level waste 1.168 0.59
Intermediate-level waste 0.009 0.057
High level waste 0.0007 0.07
Total 1.1777 0.717

Table. Efficiency of RAW management efforts in 2013

Target indicatorPlan 2013, accruedActual 2013
Commissioning of RAW storage capacities (thousand t) 35 101 %
Activity of RAW rendered safe (1018 Bq) 11 226 %

Building up ultimate radioactive waste placement facilities

The work to deploy the UNS RAW includes development of the “Area Planning Scheme for Power Generation as Relates to Siting of Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities”. The scheme provides for siting ultimate disposal facilities in 17 federal subjects of Russia. The capacity of each radioactive waste disposal facility (RWDF) of federal significance is to be not less than 100,000 m3.

In 2013, an analysis of siting the priority facilities was conducted, resulting in a reduction of the number of ultimate isolation facilities of federal significance by nearly three times (initially 30 facilities were planned to be built in 17 federal subjects of Russia).

According to the Directive of the Government of Russia No. 2084-r of 11.11.2013 “On Approval of the Area Planning Scheme for Power Generation”, the scheme includes the low- and intermediate-level RAW repository (Sosnovy Bor Leningrad Region) and the LRW deep disposal site Severny (Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory).

Public hearings were held on the preliminary environmental impact assessment of the low- and intermediate-level RAW repository to be located near the Leningrad Division of FSUE RosRAO’s branch “North West Territorial District”. The hearings outcomes were positive. SNF Management

During 2013, the world’s nuclear reactor fleet produced additional spent nuclear fuel amounting to 10,000 tonnes of heavy metal (tHM). As the result, the total volume of spent nuclear fuel unloaded from the reactors was approximately 370,500 tHM.

As of 01 January 2014, the amount of accumulated SNF in Russia was about 24.2 t. At-reactor SNF storage facilities hold 16,454 t SNF, including 14,259 t SNF of RBMK reactors.

Main results of 2013:

  • 264 SFAs of VVER-1000 reactors were removed from Russian NPPs and placed in the centralised wet storage facility at FSUE MCC;
  • work continued to build and commission in 2015 the dry compartment-type storage facility for SNF of VVER-1000 and RBMK-1000 reactors (full growth). 1,701 RBMK SFAs were shipped from Leningrad NPP and placed in the startup complex of the centralised dry storage facility commissioned in 2011 at FSUE MCC;
  • 179.247 t of SNF (including that of NPPs, RRs and propulsion reactors) was shipped for recycling to FSUE PA Mayak, including 102.96 t from Russian sites; 155.4 t SNF was recycled. The amount of SNF removed from Russian sites hosting research reactors to FSUE PA Mayak for recycling was increased (34.06 t SNF of RRs was shipped; 31.715 t was recycled);
  • pre-project work was carried out to develop an SNF treatment facility for the spent fuel of EGP-6 reactors of Bilibino NPP, which is to prepare SNF for shipment for recycling. The “Programme of Bilibino NPP SNF Shipment and Recycling at FSUE PA Mayak” was produced and approved by an Order of ROSATOM;
  • 114 kg of RR SNF was taken from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Vietnam under the U.S.-Russia agreement concerning repatriation of highly enriched uranium SNF.

Fig. Number of SFAs shipped to centralised SNF management facilities, items

Fig. VVER-1000 + RBMK-1000 reactors SNF accumulation rate

Table. Results of building up the SNF management infrastructure in 2013

Target indicatorPlan for 2013, accruedFactual for 2013
Commissioning of SNF storage capacities (thousand t) 16.7 16.7
Vacating SNF storage space to improve safety of interim storage facilities (number of SFAs) 13,374 13,775 Development of the NRHF decommissioning system and solving “nuclear legacy” problems associated with NRHF decommissioning

Results of 2013:

  • the NRHF decommissioning cost estimation was carried out as of the end of 2013;
  • in the framework of implementation of the project P-BS1-1 “Development of the Corporate Level of the Sectoral Information System for NRHF Decommissioning,” the conceptual and engineering designs have been developed;
  • a methodology for ranking NRHFs being decommissioned by their potential hazard was developed;
  • two sector-wide workshops on the development of the sectoral decommissioning system, as well as round-table sessions on NRHF decommissioning project cost estimates and the legal regulatory issues of NRHF decommissioning, were carried out;
  • proposals on the setting up and maintaining a state register of ultimately shutdown nuclear facilities were submitted to the Government of Russia.

In the period from 2008 to 2013, a total of 22 nuclear and radiation hazardous facilities were decommissioned, including one facility in 2013. Disposal of nuclear submarines

In 2013, work continued to improve the safety of coastal maintenance bases where the SNF and RAW of nuclear submarines and nuclear-propelled surface vessels were temporarily stored, of which:

  • 415 m3 of LRW was reprocessed;
  • 1,032.6 m3 of SRW was placed for temporary storage;
  • ~ 240 m3 SRW was removed from the former coastal maintenance base at Andreeva Bay to the accumulation pad at Saida Bay;
  • two railway trains with SNF were sent to FSUE PA Mayak for recycling, including one train from Murmansk Region which was sent using the funds provided in the framework of international technical assistance;
  • 11 one-compartment units with reactors of disposed nuclear submarines were placed in long-term storage;
  • construction of the Long-Term Storage Facility for Reactor Compartments of Disposed Nuclear Submarines was continued at Cape Ustrichniy (Maritime Territory);
  • construction of a LRW reprocessing facility, as phase one of the refurbishment of the coastal maintenance base at Sysoeva Bay (Maritime Territory), aimed at environmental safety improvement, was completed. Dismantling and disposal of radioisotope thermoelectric generators

Dismantling and disposal of radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) is a priority activity to reduce the potential radiological threat.

By 31 December 2013, using the funds allocated from Russia’s federal budget, as well as technical assistance rendered by the U.S., Norway, Finland, Canada and France, 988 RTGs were decommissioned, of which 56 RTGs were decommissioned in 2013.

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