Belarus regulator reveals plans for radwaste management

20 April 2021

The head of radiation safety regulation at the Belarus Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (Gosatomnadzor), Victoria Antonova, told a press conference on 14 April that plans had been drawn up for the management of radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel from the Belarus NPP (BelNPP). 

"Waste generation is an integral part of any technological production process. For us, the main task is to ensure safety,” she said. “During the operation of the BelNPP, low and intermediate level waste will be mainly generated, high level waste will be less than 1%. Storage of high-level waste is envisaged throughout the entire life cycle of the BelNPP. Low- and intermediate-level waste will be stored at the station for 10 years, after which it will be transferred to special storage facilities intended for their disposal. The site is now being selected."

The solutions for waste management vary depending on the category of waste, she explained. “If we are talking about solid waste, this is crushing, pressing, followed by placement in special containers, sealing and certification. As for liquid waste, first of all, this is evaporation to reduce the amount with the subsequent transfer of waste into a solid state. For gaseous waste, this is decay, passing through a special system of filters that trap radioactive impurities."

The design solutions for BelNPP provide for a special system of near-reactor used fuel storage, which consists of a used fuel pool with a range of security measures. The project provides for storage of used fuel in the pool for 10 years, after which it will be sent for processing to Russia. "It is very important for us to ensure safety at all stages of used fuel and radioactive waste management. We pay special attention to the flawless implementation of all design solutions. Our inspection carries out continuous supervision at the site," Antonova emphasised.

Leonid Dzedul, first deputy head of GosAtomNadzor told the press briefing that radioactive waste from that processing, which requires long-term storage, will be returned to Belarus. By then, a special facility will have been built; the first stage is to be completed by 2031, he said. “Now we are choosing a site for the construction of the facility. As soon as there is information about its approximate location, and public discussions will be held,” Antonava added.

According to Gosatomnadzor head Nikolai Mikhailov, during the 60 or more years of the design life of BelNPP some 9,000 cubic metres of low and medium level waste will be generated, as well as about 60 cubic metres of high-level waste.

Belarus NPP will consist of two Russian supplied VVER-1200 power units. The plant was issued a permit for pilot industrial operation of unit 1 in December and it was connected to the grid earlier in March. It is expected that the unit 1 will be put into commercial operation in 2021 and unit 2 in 2022.

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