Joint Meeting of SNRIU and SAEZ Public Councils Conducted

On 30 January 2018, a joint meeting of the Public Councils under the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) and the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management (SAEZ) was held. The agenda included four topics common for these two authorities.

The first topic to discuss was updating of the Strategy for Shelter Transformation into an Environmentally Safe System. SAEZ Chairman Vitaly Petruk says that active work is underway to complete and commission the New Safe Confinement (NSC). One of the next most important stages will be dismantling of Shelter unstable structures. At the same time, the International Scientific and Practical Conference in cooperation with the Institute for Nuclear Safety Problems is planned for June this year, which will consider updating of the Strategy for Shelter Transformation.

SNRIU representative Natalia Rybalka presented the regulator’s proposals to the participants. First, the strategy for Shelter transformation into an environmentally safe system should comply with the general strategy of activities in the exclusion zone. At the same time, compliance of the new strategy with the current one should be ensured. The new strategy should supplement the existing one with the issues that were not fully presented in it, e.g., identification of the Shelter final state. Natalia Rybalka also noted that in order to draw up the strategy for management of fuel-containing materials and radioactive waste, it is necessary to examine their behavior. The research in this area is practically absent in Ukraine. Such research can be carried out simultaneously with dismantling that will start after NSC commissioning. Only research findings can confirm that the strategy for Shelter transformation into an environmentally safe system is justified.

After a detailed discussion, the Public Councils agreed jointly to apply to SAEZ with a proposal to continue activities aimed at updating of the Strategy for Shelter Transformation into an Environmentally Safe System considering expert comments.

The second topic on the agenda dealt with the Exclusion Zone Development Strategy. SAEZ Chairman Vitaly Petruk said that the Agency worked according to the concept approved by the Government of Ukraine in 2012. In 2016, the President instructed SAEZ to draw up the Exclusion Zone Development Strategy. “The Agency has difficulties associated with formal implementation of this decision. However, the draft Strategy was developed and is currently under revision”, Vitaly Petruk stated.   

The Chairman outlined the main strategic spheres of activity for the Chornobyl exclusion zone in 2018. First, the exclusion zone should be divided into two parts: special industrial area and Chornobyl Radiation and Environmental Biosphere Reserve. As for the Reserve, it is planned to allocate 25 billion hryvnias from the state budget this year. In the framework of an international technical assistance project, relevant agreements have already been signed to implement the procedure to approve the land management project for this territory.

All central executive bodies except for the Ministry of Justice approved the draft Law on the special industrial area. SAEZ will submit it after revision to the Government and Verkhovna Rada. “Granting this territory the status of special industrial area will provide more legal grounds for activities on this territory”, Vitaly Petruk assured.

The priority areas for 2018 are to establish efficient functioning of the Radioactive Waste Management Fund, complete Vektor Stage 1, and commission NSC and spent fuel dry storage facility (ISF-2). 

ChNPP representative Oleksandr Novikov noted that ChNPP in cooperation with the Research Institute for Radiation Protection started activities to identify justified radiation criteria for the special industrial area. Natalia Rybalka informed that a large-scale international project of the European Commission on comprehensive assessment of facilities in the exclusion zone was completed in 2017. As a result, conclusions and recommendations were made on strategic approaches to planning further activities in this zone, as well as assessments that could be the basis for justifying the boundaries defined for this area. “These recommendations should be necessarily considered in development of the strategy for exclusion zone development”, she noted. “Specific boundaries of the special industrial area and Chornobyl Radiation and Environmental Biosphere Reserve should also be clearly established. Adequate radiation criteria should be developed for these two areas”.

The Public Councils decided to support SAEZ in updating the Exclusion Zone Development Strategy.    

The third topic on the agenda was to implement the Radwaste Management Strategy in Ukraine. SAEZ representatives described current situation in this area. The Agency developed a package of draft Laws to improve the financing mechanisms for radioactive waste management. The Radioactive Waste Management Fund started its functioning on 1 January 2018. A draft Cabinet Resolution on the procedure for using costs from this fund has been developed. The comments of the central executive bodies are currently under consideration.

Taking into account international experience, SAEZ jointly with SNRIU, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry developed a draft Law of Ukraine to amend certain legislative documents of Ukraine to improve legislation in the sphere of radioactive waste management dealing with new radioactive waste classification.

According to the current strategy, SAEZ performs activities to enhance the authorities of the radwaste management operator (Central Radioactive Waste Management Enterprise (CRME)) at all lifecycle stages of radwaste storage facilities and involve international technical assistance for safety assessment of radwaste management facilities including radwaste storage facilities of Radon specialized plants. Terms of Reference have been developed to reassess the safety of all radwaste storage facilities of the specialized plants.

In 2018, it is planned to complete and commission the infrastructure and radwaste disposal facilities of Vektor Stage 1. The importance of the construction project for an interim storage facility for high-level vitrified radioactive waste was also pointed out.         

The members of the joint meeting of the Public Councils considered the report of SAEZ representatives.

The fourth topic concerned the status of the project for the centralized spent fuel storage facility (CSFSF). Energoatom Company representative, Volodymyr Holosha, told about the status of project implementation.   

For today, the project of access railroad to CSFSF and the project of preparatory activities at the CSFSF site have been completed and approved. The CSFSF construction project has been developed.

The construction of the access railroad to CSFSF and preparatory activities for CSFSF construction have been launched in situ.   

The members of the joint meeting of the Public Councils considered the operator’s report and agreed to consider the CSFSF construction status on a regular basis.  

After considering these four topics common to SNRIU and SAEZ, next two topics set by the SNRIU Public Council were addressed. Deputy Director of SNRIU Department on Nuclear Installation Safety Valerii Buhay told about the status of activities that were still to be completed at the time of the SNRIU Board meeting at which a decision was made to approve long-term operation of ZNPP units 1 and 2. After that, Yaroslav Rozhylo, Chairman of the SNRIU Public Council, reported on the work performed in 2017 and outlined the priorities for 2018. Editorial Board