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By Vladimir Mikheev,
Citizens Center on Nuclear Non-proliferation, Krasnoyarsk,
7 December 2002

Quantity and activity of radioactive wastes (RAW) and spent nuclear fuel (SNF) stored at Krasnoyarsk Mining-Chemical Combine

By the year of 2015 the activity of radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel at MCC will be more than 25 billion curies (!) or 500 "Chernobyls" (!)

Translated by Victor Ouskin, Citizens` Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation

High-activity liquid radioactive wastes is among the most important problems of nuclear fuel cycle. These wastes hold up to 90% of all fission products formed in reactor operation, transplutonian elements and uranium and plutonium underecovered in the process of chemical processing. The aim of this report is to collect all figures on the quantity and activity of radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel turning in the Mining-Chemical Combine.

Radiochemical plant

During 30 years of operation the radiochemical plant has produced a large amount of high-level wastes. A part of them are stored in storage containers divided into three capacity categories: 300 m3, 30000 m3 and 8500 m3 [1]. These storage containers (vessels) hold about 200 million curie of high-level wastes in liquid and solid phases precipitate [1]. In addition, the radiochemical plant has accumulated mid-level wastes in 7 concrete vessels of the volume of 20000 m3 with total activity 11 million curie [2].

Department 1 of the isotope-chemical plant

The vessels of department 1 of the isotope-chemical plant hold 40000 m3 of mid-level wastes with the total activity up to 20 thousand curie [2]. In addition, the department has 4 water vessels of the volume of from 80000 m3 to 360000 m3. These four sedimentation vessels hold more than 700000 m3 of mid-level wastes with the radionuclide content up to 32 thousand curie [1]. Unfortunately, the activity of solid radioactive wastes held in concrete and land structures is unknown.

Severny area

More than 4 million m3 of liquid radioactive wastes, mostly mid- and low-level have been pumped into underground layers of Severny area, their total activity is 700 million curie [2].

Spent fuel assembly storage

By official data as of November 2002 the spent fuel assembly storage received 3000 tons of spent nuclear fuel. According to the data given in [3] it is easy to calculate: with the total capacity of the storage facility being 6 thousand tons, the total activity will amount to 6 billion curie. Hence, the activity of the storage today is 3 billion curie. Filled to its capacity the operational spent fuel assembly storage will have 3000 tons more, and the total activity will be 3 billion curie.

All figures summed will yield more than 3.9 billion curie. Note: Chernobyl catastrophe resulted in emission of 50 million curie into the atmosphere, thus today MCC has 78 Chernobyls of radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel.

The problems of long-term and safe storage of accumulated radioactive wastes and their disposal are among the most expensive and technically difficult for the Mining-Chemical Combine. The prospects of the combine for the future are so far dismal and are connected only with storage and processing of foreign spent nuclear fuel.

By 2004 Minatom plans to construct a new dry storage for spent nuclear fuel with the capacity of 33 thousand tons for foreign spent nuclear fuel and domestic spent nuclear fuel from RBMK-1000 reactors. This is a tremendous additional load of 20 billion curie. An expansion of the operating storage to 9 thousand tons is 3 billion curie more.

The conclusion is obvious: by the years 20102015 the Mining-Chemical Combine will have more than 25 billion curie (!) or 500 Chernobyls (!). Today the total activity of radioactive wastes accumulated over the territory of Russia since the nuclear weapons and peaceful nuclear power plants have been created is more than 5 billion cure, according to different data about 6 billion curie [5]. Thus, in the forthcoming 1015 years the Mining-Chemical Combine will turn into the dirtiest place not in Russia only, but in the entire world. Time is flying, problems with radioactive wastes are piling, and the standpoint of Minatom and MCC officials who state that the storage of foreign SNF and construction of RT-2 plant can help solve the problem makes one wonder. RT-2 plant will not solve the problem, on the contrary it will only aggravate it.

In the case the spent nuclear fuel is refused to be processed is considered high-level radioactive waste [4], therefore it must be securely isolated for hundreds and thousands of years, otherwise our descendants will curse us.

References

[1] Revenko Yu.. Termination of production, storage and utilization of weapon-grade plutonium. Selected works of Plutonium accumulation in Russia: scientific-technological, social-economic and political aspects seminar (2728 April 1995 .). Center for disarmament, energy and ecology studies at Moscow Physical-Engineering Institute. Moscow, 1995.

[2] Mikheev V.I., Khizhnyak V.G. MCC: Problems and REality. Krai Ecological Movement. Krasnoyarsk, 1995.

[3] Corrections to the feasibility study of RT-w plant construction at MCC. V VNIPIET, St-Petersburg, 1993.

[4] Nuclear Encyclopedia. Yaroshinskaya Charity fund publication. Moscow, 1996.

[5] Polyakov .S., Borisov G.B. (VNIINM). Radioactive waste handling at the radiochemical enterprises of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for atomic energy. Bulletin of the center of public information on atomic energy 7. TsNIIatominform. Moscow, 1996.


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