Nuclear Waste Management in Russia

Aerial view of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia

NO RAO, the Russian state’s national operator for dealing with radioactive waste, has announced it will build an underground research laboratory near Krasnoyarsk to determine the feasibility of building a final disposal point for the country’s high-level radioactive waste by 2024,

The government agency reported it had chosen the Nizhnekansky Rock Mass in the Krasnoyarsk Region of Central Siberia as the site for the lab and eventual long term underground storage repository, ..The project to build the repository will only go ahead pending the results of the lab studies, NO RAO said.  Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said that phase one of the proposed repository would hold 20,000 tons of intermediate and high level nuclear wastes, which would be retrievable, World Nuclear News reported…

Krasnoyarsk Citizens’ Assembly Chairman Alexei Menshikov was reported as saying the decision to build the repository in the region’s Nizhnekansky Rock Mass would not be decided without “wide public discussion and the creation of effective means for civil control, because [the repository] concerns environmental safety and the livelihood of citizens.”  Many of those present at the meeting pressed questions on precisely those points.

This area in Siberia is no stranger to massive nuclear undertakings. The nearby closed nuclear city of Zheleznogorsk through the decades of the Cold War produced bomb grade plutonium.  The city is also gearing up to build a new pilot spent nuclear fuel storage and reprocessing facility, which will reprocess two of Russia’s thorniest types of spent nuclear fuel: that produced by VVER-1000 reactors and spent fuel from Chernobyl-style RBMKs.

The search for a repository to store Russia’s high-level radioactive waste in safe conditions for the coming millennia has been in full swing since late last year when Rosatom in October 2013 unveiled a “roadmap” …This roadmap focused on the possibility of building as many as 30 long-term repositories as well as temporary waste storage facilities, 10 of which would be located in Northwest Russia, close to Norway and Finland, and didn’t discuss citing a repository in Siberia.

Excerpts from Charles Digges, http://www.bellona.org, Oct. 21, 2014

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