Russia's national operator for radioactive waste management (NO RAO) has completed the design documents for an underground research laboratory to study the feasibility of final disposal of solid high-level radioactive waste (HLW) and solid medium-level long-lived wastes in the Nizhnekansky granitoid rock massif in Zheleznogorsk. The waste would be stored at a depth of 450-525 m.
NO RAO is a federal-state unitary enterprise set up in March 2012 for handling all nuclear waste materials and final disposal of radioactive waste. Its functions and tariffs are set by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Its branches are at Zheleznogorsk, which is in Krasnoyarsk, Seversk in Tomsk, Dimitrovgrad in Ulyanovsk and Novouralsk in Sverdlovsk.
NO RAO's parent company, state nuclear corporation Rosatom, is now studying the documents, NO RAO deputy director Denis Egorov said in a statement, following a meeting of Rosatom's scientific and technical council on the final stage of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Egorov added that NO RAO has received local government approval in the Chelyabinsk and Tomsk regions on the final disposal of low- and intermediate-level wastes (LLW/ILW) at the sites of Mayak Production Association in Ozersk and Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC), based in Tomsk. Plans to establish repositories for 300,000 cubic metres of LLW/ILW are to be in place by 2018.
NO RAO said in October last year that it aimed to build the underground laboratory in the Nizhnekansky granitoid rock massif by 2024.
Russia originally focused site selection on the Kola Peninsula. In 2003, Krasnokamensk in the Chita region, 7000 km east of Moscow, was suggested as the site for a major used fuel repository. Then in 2008, the Nizhnekansky granitoid rock massif was put forward as a site for a national deep geological repository.
Rosatom has said that phase one of the facility is to be designed to hold 20,000 tonnes of intermediate- and high-level wastes, which will be retrievable.
Public hearings on the Nizhnekansky granitoid rock massif were held in July 2012. It was identified in the November 2013 Regional Energy Planning Scheme as a planned repository site.
Moscow-based RosRAO, another Rosatom subsidiary, began operations in 2009 for the management of used nuclear fuel, non-nuclear radioactive waste, and decommissioning services, especially of submarines. Then NO RAO was created to consolidate these activities as the national manager of Russia's used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Now, RosRAO aims to be a global provider of back-end fuel cycle services.