Construction of Centralized SFSF: Problems and Prospects

On 6 – 9 September 2016, the workshop on the construction of the Centralized Spent Fuel Storage Facility (Centralized SFSF) in Ukraine was held in Chicago, Illinois, USA. The event was carried out under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and with technical assistance of the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL).

Tetiana Verbytska, Assistant to SSTC NRS Director for Communications, got backstage and communicated with workshop participants.


Serhii Bozhko, SNRIU Chairman

– Serhii, what are your impressions of the workshop? Will the U.S. experience accelerate the construction and licensing of the Centralized SFSF in Ukraine?

– The workshop is very useful, because it gathered experts who have years of experience in the construction of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities on the territory of the United States. Every report and every presentation are important for us. The main tasks also include formation of further plans on cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Argonne National Laboratory in this sphere. I believe that the licensing process will be more efficient if based on U.S. experience and best international practices.

– What are the current problems in construction and licensing?

– Experts from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission consider possible operation of storage facilities for over 100 years (from 120 to 300). I think that Ukraine needs the implementation of basic principles of the European Community on management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. They are approved by corresponding European legislation (Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom dated 19 July 2011).

Operation of storage facilities for over 100 years in Ukraine is a very serious challenge. I hope that we will quickly solve the problem of spent fuel temporary storage, since major financial resources are needed for operation of the storage facility, namely for infrastructure, facility maintenance, security, etc.

– Do you mean the so-called temporary storage? It is intended for 100 years in Ukraine and from 120 to 300 years in the USA?

– Exactly. Still, I think that we should not follow the U.S. way. It would be better to build a deep geological repository. However, we do not have much time for its construction. Let us take Sweden as an example, where the construction of geological repository started in 1976. In 2011, the Swedish party indicated the year of 2023 as the preliminary date for facility commissioning. What do we have as a result? Almost 50 years for construction and commissioning in a wealthy developed country.


Yurii Nedashkivskyi, Energoatom Company President

– Yurii, what shall Ukraine borrow from the U.S. experience for construction and licensing of the Centralized SFSF?

– The U.S. experience is remarkable. We familiarized with the map of storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel in the USA. There are no centralized storage facilities, but there are many constructed near power plants. Holtec International Company, which will construct the storage facility in our country, occupies a leading position in the USA. Therefore, it has no problems with licensing and certification, However, Ukraine has another legislative and regulatory framework, so this will not solve all potential problems with licensing of the Centralized SFSF. The question is how to use the U.S. technologies developed for U.S. regulatory framework in Ukraine. This issue is very difficult and it will take a long time.

Participation in this workshop gives us the opportunity to familiarize with U.S. safety approaches and procedures for us to use similar solutions in Ukraine. Since the licensing process in fact has already started (technical specifications were submitted to the SNRIU, draft and preliminary safety analysis report were developed and currently are under review), the U.S. experience will allow acceleration of the licensing process and further construction of the Centralized SFSF. Therefore, we discussed all problematic issues and challenges which can occur during implementation of the project. Our colleagues from the USA focus on aspects that shall be addressed to avoid difficulties in future. Learning the U.S. experience in transport of spent nuclear fuel is equally important for us.

– Therefore, there are more problems with licensing than with construction?

– It is difficult to answer the question, because the construction has not started yet. In fact, construction of the Centralized SFSF will not be easy. During a long period of time we could not manage to adopt the corresponding law. When the law was adopted, provisions of the contract were out-of-date, so it needed revision. Currently, there are some problems with land acquisition, though the President of Ukraine signed a new law, which allows harmonization between special legislation related to Chornobyl Exclusion Zone and the legislation in land sector.

There are still many problematic issues. Actually, the operating organization is created for this purpose and together with state regulatory authorities is shall address them. In any way, I believe in successful construction of the Centralized SFSF.


Mark Lombard, Director of the Division of Spent Fuel Storage and Transportation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission

– Mark, what can you advise the regulator to accelerate the construction? Which experience shall be taken?

– Licensing procedures in the USA and Ukraine have certain differences. However, I think that the Ukrainian regulatory body is very efficient in this sphere. We are ready to share information and knowledge, in particular, results of corresponding safety research efforts and give consultations on challenging issues.

If Ukrainian nuclear regulatory authority uses our experience, the licensing of SFSF will go faster.

 What advice can you give to the operating organization? What should it start with?

– I see that Energoatom Company closely cooperates with the regulatory body. I advise to continue such a practice. Communication is an important component for efficient work. Editorial Board