Russia has put into operation its first near-surface final nuclear waste repository for solid low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste, National Operator for Radioactive Waste Management (NO RAO) has announced.
The repository, which is in Novouralsk, received its first waste shipment - 13 packages of waste totalling 47 cubic metres - between 28 November and 2 December. This is class 3 waste, but the facility will start taking class 4 waste next year. Such waste includes, for example, clothing, air filters and packaging.
The repository, PPZRO according to its Russian acronym, is a reinforced concrete structure, 140 m long, 24 m wide and built at a depth of 7 m. It can receive up to 300 cubic meters of radioactive waste a year and hold up to 15,000 cubic meters for up to 300 years. Once the waste is entombed, the facility would be able to withstand a magnitude 6 earthquake, NO RAO said.
ROSATOM director-general Alexey Likhachov said the facility was built using the latest technology, includes a number of safety barriers and provides reliable protection to the surrounding environment. He added that such long-term repositories will be built in other regions of the country that host nuclear facilities. The commissioning of nuclear waste repositories will be "a crucial step", he said, in dealing with Russia's Soviet-era nuclear waste legacy.
"Commissioning of this modern and reliable PPZRO is yet more confirmation of the fact we are dealing with our radioactive waste in practice and have done away with procrastinating about what to do with it," he said.
NO RAO said the repository will store waste generated by Ural Electrochemical Combine, which manufactures enriched uranium hexafluoride fuel for nuclear power plants.
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 is state nuclear corporation Rosatom. Federal State Unitary Enterprise Radioactive Waste Management Enterprise, or RosRAO, is responsible for transport of the waste.