The European Union (EU) has approved EUR1 million in funding for a two-year project to design a processing facility and an interim storage facility for radioactive waste in Georgia. The procurement process runs until 5 May.
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) is coordinating this project in collaboration with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). SSM is also contributing one-sixth of the total funding for the project.
Georgia has legacy radioactive waste dating back to the Soviet era, including radioactive sources, radioactive material, and contaminated sites. In the early 2000s, Georgia ran a campaign to identify and collect radioactive waste. Since 2013 the country has been working to meet international requirements through the creation of a legal framework in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection, and the set-up of an independent government agency and an organisation responsible for dealing with the waste. SSM has been working together with the regulator in Georgia for several years now.
“This partnership has allowed us to provide Georgia with assistance on developing a national strategy for management of all its radioactive waste, and in 2016, the Georgian government adopted this strategy. It was in connection with these efforts that the EU noticed us and asked if we would be interested in implementing a bigger project in Georgia,” said Björn Dverstorp, a senior specialist on geological disposal at SSM.
A proposal has already been made for the siting of the facility and Georgia, with the help of SSM has arranged hearings for stakeholders to comment on the plan.
The next step is to complete a preliminary design for a future waste storage site and obtain a decision in principle from the government demonstrating its intention to proceed with construction. Discussions are also in progress on the extension of the project, and the EU is expected to make a decision this autumn.