Russia’s Angarsk ElectroChemical Combine (AECC) is to commission an innovative plant for sorting radioactively contaminated soils, the plant said on 31 May. Work has begun on commissioning a FREMES facility developed by German company NUKEM Technologies (part of Rosatom). It is designed for sorting and characterising radioactively contaminated bulk materials.
The project is being implemented by Rosatom's industry-specific integrator for decommissioning and management of associated radioactive waste, which is part of Fuel Company TVEL.
The FREMES plant will separate radioactively contaminated bulk materials by streaming gamma spectrometric measurements on a conveyor, followed by automatic sorting according to specified limit values based on a radionuclide vector. The technology makes it possible to separate clean soil from contaminated soil, and classify contaminated soil as radioactive waste (RW) of different categories for further conditioning and transfer to the National Operator for RW Management. In addition, the system makes it possible to characterise any type of bulk materials - soils, concrete fragments,
The effectiveness of the installation was confirmed during the implementation of the site rehabilitation project at the FBFC International facility in Belgium, completed in 2020. With the help of FREMES equipment, more than 45,000 tons of potentially contaminated soil were sorted, which made it possible to reduce the amount of waste transferred for disposal tenfold.
“The use of the FREMES plant will allow us to solve our immediate key task - to release up to 80% of potentially contaminated soils “from supervision”, to minimise the amount of radioactive waste that needs to be transferred to disposal, and to obtain the minimum amount of soils of limited use,” said the project manager at AECC, Igor Khisamutdinov.
AECC was established in 1957 to undertake uranium enrichment and conversion. Two buildings (802 and 804) which housed gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment facilities were shut down in 1987 and 1990, after Russia switched to gas centrifuge technology. Conversion activities ceased in 2014 after TVEL in 2011 began implementing a programme to concentrate Russian conversion capacities at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) in Seversk. AECC began decommissioning building 804 in 2016 within the framework of the federal target programme "Nuclear and Radiation Safety in 2016-2020 and until 2030" (FTP NRS-2).