Russia may set up graphite reprocessing research centre

4 August 2015


The IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD/NEA) is considering establishing an international pilot site for testing technologies for irradiated graphite treatment at Russia's Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk.

Andrey Izmestiev, director general of Pilot Demonstration Centre for Decommissioning Uranium-Graphite Reactors (PDC UGR) said a meeting will be held at Seversk in October and he expected a resolution would be adopted to that effect. He noted that "today, there are no efficient technologies for graphite reprocessing."

Recently PDC UGR completed decommissioning SCC's plutonium production reactor EI-2, and earlier this year the company won the tender for work to treat PUGR irradiated graphite and solid radioactive waste storage facilities, as well as for justification of options for treating irradiated graphite sleeves. This is part of Russia's federal target programme "Nuclear and Radiation Safety."

EI-2 was decommissioned using the "entombment" option (special radioactive waste storage was created). New, special technologies, were developed to secure the facility for thousands of years involving protective barriers using natural clay after removal of used fuel and of dismantled and decontaminated equipment and metal structures. The facility will be released two months ahead of schedule, with acceptance by the relevant state commission set for 25 September 2015. Currently work is underway to put in place a screen to protect the facility from atmospheric impacts.

EI-2 operated from 1958 to 1990 and was the first nuclear reactor to generate electricity as well as producing weapons plutonium. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom in 2012 approved a timetable for the withdrawal from service of five previously idled industrial plutonium production reactors starting with EI-2. The technology developed for EI-2 will be used for decommissioning other industrial uranium-graphite reactors at production association Mayak (Ozersk, Chelyabinsk region), the Mining and Chemical Combine (Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory) and other nuclear facilities.



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