NATO Pilot Project on Burial Liquidation in Zhytomyr Oblast Successfully Completed

On 14 February, the Ministry for Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine conducted press conference on the completion of NATO Pilot Project on Disposal of Radioactive Waste stored in Vakulenchuk Burial in Zhytomyr oblast.

“Today, when Ukraine feels threat from outside and a part of the state territories is occupied, the support of our NATO partners gives hope for the best”, Ostap Semerak, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, started the conference. “The project currently in question is the pilot project between Ukraine and NATO. It clearly illustrates how efficiently and fruitfully one can cooperate in order to achieve an important goal, in this case the goal is Ukrainian radiation safety”.

On the right – Ostap Semerak, the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine; on the left – Alexander Vinnikov, the Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine

The minister said that there are several sites for similar radioactive waste storage in Ukraine subjected to liquidation. The greatest threat pose those facilities that remained on uncontrolled territory of Ukraine, particularly in the Crimea and in the East of the country. Ostap Semerak expressed his gratitude to NATO partners for their cooperation and assured that in future the Ministry will make every effort in order to liquidate all radioactive waste legacy burials inherited in Ukraine from the Soviet Union.

“Today’s event is of great importance for the history of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO. Our experts gained adequate valuable experience for further implementation of the projects. We are currently discussing further cooperation in this sphere”, Alexander Vinnikov, the Head of the NATO Liaison Office in Ukraine, underlined.

Vitalii Petruk, Head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management (SAEZ), joined the discussion: “transfer of radioactive waste storage facilities from the regions of Ukraine is a priority task for our country. All radioactive waste should be concentrated in the exclusion zone with appropriate developed infrastructure and staff trained in this sphere”. According to the Head  of SAEZ, lack of adequate funding in this sphere is quite noticeable. Therefore, the support of international organizations such as NATO is warmly welcomed.

Vitalii Petruk, Head of SAEZ

“Burial liquidation significantly improved safety in the region, about 30 tons of radioactive material were transported from Zhytomyr oblast. Unfortunately, several radwaste legacy burials remained in Ukraine, first of all, Kyiv Interregional Special Combine, and hazardous facilities near Odessa, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv”, Vitalii Petruk, Head of SAEZ, noted.

Ihor Shevchenko, the Director of the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) emphasized that the Vakulenchuk legacy burial was extremely contaminated. Its background values exceeded thousand times the natural background. There are very few such burials in Ukraine, most of facilities in the Chornobyl exclusion zone are much cleaner”, SSTC Director commented. According to him, after the project completion, the radiation background on remediated territories meets the standard and is the lowest in the oblast. editorial board