Ukraine badly needs waste nuclear fuel storage facility, says Emergencies Ministry

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Aug. 17, 2012, 6:27 p.m. | Ukraine | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant


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Ukraine needs to give a serious thought to building a centralized storage facility for waste nuclear fuel since waste fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs), which is temporary stored in the Russian Federation will start to come back from 2013, the Emergencies Ministry said. 

"Starting from 2013, Ukraine should be taking the processed waste nuclear fuel back from Russia. To date, there is no repository where it could be safely stored in Ukraine. We need to speed up the construction of such facility at the Vector site," Acting Head of the State Agency for Exclusion Zone Management Dmytro Bobrov said at a press conference in Kyiv on Friday.

He recalled that almost all waste nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants (with the exception of Zaporizhia NPP, which has a waste nuclear fuel storage facility) is currently sent for temporary storage to Russia. In line with Russian legislation, after recycling the waste fuel should be returned to the country of origin.

"The problem has not been solved. We have a repository for high-level radioactive waste at Chornobyl NPP, whose specifications allow it to be used temporarily for the purpose, but it is not intended for this it terms of capacity and design. We can keep it (waste nuclear fuel) for some time there, but unless we principally solve this year the issue of the construction of a special storage facility, then the problem will become acute, starting with, say, 2015. And the Energoatom National Electricity Generating Company will have to pay Russia extra money for storing this waste in Russia," Bobro said.

As reported, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, on February 23, 2012 passed a law on the construction of a centralized interim storage facility for waste nuclear fuel from Water-Water Energetic Reactors (WWER) at domestic nuclear power plants. The Ukrainian president signed the law on March 2, 2012.

Energoatom brings waste nuclear fuel for storage from seven WWER-1000 reactors to Krasnoyarsk-based mining and chemical combine (Russia) and from two WWER-440 reactors to Mayak production amalgamation in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

The opening of a new waste nuclear fuel storage facility will allow National Nuclear Generating Company Energoatom to save over $100 million every year, Energoatom's press service has reported. The cost of waste nuclear fuel storage services provided by Russian companies amounts to $160 million and has an upward trend, while expenses on exploitation of the waste nuclear fuel storage facility are evaluated at $20 million per year.

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