Russia adopts 'polluter pays' radwaste law

12 February 2010

Producers of radioactive materials in Russia will be liable for their disposal, according to new radwaste legislation adopted into law.

The cost of Russian fuel rises
Producers such as TVEL will now have to pay for the disposal of radioactive waste, such as these fuel pellets at an Elektrostal plant. Image courtesy Atomenergoprom.

Producers will be required to contribute to a radwaste disposal fund. "Thanks to this law, radioactive waste will be governed by a special company. Previously, someone produced [radioactive material], and sold it, but does not bear responsibility for the waste that arises from the use of radioactive substances," said engineer Olga Kosova of OAO VNIIKhT. "Now by law, all those involved in radioactive waste, will make contributions to of the waste that will arise as a result of this use."

The Radioactive Waste Management act refers to provisions originally ratified at a spent fuel management joint convention in 2005, according to state nuclear company Rosatom.

The legislation does not allocate additional government funds apart from those allocated to a seven-year radiation safety programme begun in 2008. Much of the radwaste accrued in Soviet-era military programmes.

The bill also requires all currently-stored waste to be registered. "When there is a unified state system of radioactive waste management, as well as unified state system of accounting and control - this is a good thing [for everyone] that no one would have discretion to dispose of sources of ionizing radiation," said Boris Kobelchuk, deputy minister of natural resources of the southwestern Russian territory of Stavropol. He added: "There are general requirements for disposal of radioactive waste and there are specific requirements for placement, construction, operation and closure of disposal sites of radioactive waste...not only for the places of burial themselves, but also for the organizations that carry out management of radioactive waste."

"The adoption of the law on radioactive waste says that we are catching up to the West - because we did not have requirements for disposal of radioactive waste," said Igor Linge, deputy director of the Safety Institute (IBRAE RAS).

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