The Slovak Environment Ministry on 23 April approved the extension of the radioactive waste treatment facility in Jaslovské Bohunice, based on an environmental impact assessment (EIA). This will enable state-owned Jadrová a Vyraďovacia Spoločnosť (JAVYS – Nuclear and Decommissioning Company) to double its incineration capacity from 240 tonnes to 480 tonnes a year.

JAVYS in Jaslovské Bohunice serves as a service company to both of Slovakia’s NPPs – in Jaslovské Bohunice near Trnava and Mochovce near Nitra. Its tasks include storing used fuel spent from both facilities at an interim storage facility, decommissioning the closed nuclear facilities (the A1 and V1 nuclear plants in Jaslovské Bohunice), and processing radioactive waste generated by the NPPs, as well as waste from hospitals, research institutions, labs and other facilities.

JAVYS also treats foreign nuclear waste from, for example, Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2015, JAVYS signed a contract with the Sogin company on the treatment of waste from the closed NPP in Caorso, Italy. This plant closed in 1990 due to public pressure following the Chernobyl disaster. Under the contract, JAVYS should process 865 tons of radioactive waste from the Italian NPP by 2023.

To meet the contract, JAVYS needed to increase its incineration capacity. 

JAVYS general director Pavol Štuller said the capacity of its incineration facility would not change as the current facility is nearing the end of its economic life. He stressed that no radioactive material remained in Slovakia after the processing foreign waste.

Environment Minister Ján Budaj approved the project while also pressing for the adoption of a constitutional law banning the incineration of foreign radioactive waste in Slovakia, which has been the subject of protests from local residents. “We realise that we are responsible for our own radioactive waste,” Peter Jančovič, Piešťany Mayor told the news channel TA3, but added that it is unacceptable to import radioactive waste from abroad. Budaj told TA3 that a draft bill has been drawn up to exclude further imports of radioactive waste to Slovakia, which should become effective after the contract with the Italian company ceases in two years time. However, the ruling coalition is not unanimous on this issue. Economy Minister Richard Sulík says the law will compromise Slovakia’s economic interests and undermine its existing expertise and technological capacities.

Meanwhile, JAVYS said on 26 April that it had removed the second reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of the decommissioned V1 NPP in Jaslovské Bohunice from the reactor shaft and transported it to the wet fragmentation pool. In the coming months, the company will carry out the simultaneous fragmentation of two reactor pressure vessels in one pool. The first RPV was transported to JAVYS in May 2020. "The transport of the RPV was an extremely responsible and demanding project, and it is again a significant milestone in the decommissioning of the Jaslovské Bohunice V1 NPP,” said Štuller.

Preparatory work such as preparation of documentation, removal of thermal insulation and the other activities began in 2020. The transport of the RPV was carried out by approximately 20 people.

Removal large-scale components of the primary circuit is one of the main decommissioning projects at the V1 NPP. JAVYS, in cooperation with a consortium of Westinghouse Spain, Westinghouse Sweden and VUJE, began work on the project at the end of 2017. "One of the main objectives of the project is the removal and fragmentation of RPVs and internal parts of the reactor, that is the most radioactive parts of the plant,” said Marian Vrtoch, Director of decommissioning V1.

The early closure of Jaslovské Bohunice V1 was undertaken as a condition for Slovakia’s accession to the European Union. The first unit was shut down in 2006 and the second in 2008. The Government undertook to decommission both units in 1999, setting a deadline for the decommissioning of unit 1 in 2006 and of unit 2 in 2008. Decommissioning will be carried out in two stages with the completion date in 2025. The total costs for the decommissioning are estimated at CZK1.239 billion ($58m). The work is co-financed from the National Nuclear Fund and the International Decommissioning Support Fund for the V1 NPP (BIDSF).