Decriminalization of the voluntary radioactive sources disposal

On 4 October 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a law that exempts from criminal liability for voluntary surrender of radioactive materials.

There were numerous cases in Ukraine when people possessed radiation sources, which have not been included into the state accounting system for various reasons. People were often afraid to surrender them because there was criminal liability for illegal possession of such sources. Fear prompted them to leave radiation sources in landfills or places that are not suitable for radioactive waste storage.

The system for retrieval of abandoned radiation sources and radioactive waste in Ukraine was imperfect as it increased probable initiation of radiation accidents, unauthorized access to radioactive waste and its possible use for terrorist purposes.

It is not worth to be afraid of imprisonment now! On 4 October 2016, the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Article 265 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine Regarding the Voluntary Surrender of Radioactive Materials” came into force.

Adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code will promote voluntary surrender, registration and examination of radioactive waste, its inclusion into the state accounting system, and transfer for controlled storage.

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Until now, many companies using radiation sources in industrial and research activity have no financial opportunity to provide appropriate level of their monitoring. Bankrupt enterprises have no funds for paying of special tax for storage of radiation sources.

The State Program on Safe Management of Spent High-Level Radiation Sources during storage was approved in 2006 to support such companies. Stage 1 of the program was aimed at collection of spent radiation sources having a high level of hazard. The Program was implemented with involvement of international technical assistance. Donor countries were the UK, Germany, France, the USA, as well as other countries.

In 2009-2015, Ukraine with financial support of the USA implemented two large-scale projects on retrieval of spent radiation sources from bankrupt enterprises. Under these projects, radiation sources were retrieved from irradiation facilities and loaded to appropriate containers; their integrity was checked; sources were identified; containers were transported to specialized radwaste management enterprises.

Resulting from the project implementation during seven years in Ukraine, 14755 spent radiation sources from different regions of Ukraine with total activity of 1.27 PBq were collected and sent to specialized radwaste management enterprises.

Preparation for implementation of the Pilot Project “Joint Campaign for Removal of Abandoned Radiation Sources from the Public” was currently started under the technical support of the USA. Implementation of the campaign is envisaged on the territory of one of the regions of Ukraine with significant crowding of industrial enterprises.

In taking measures under the project, a large-scale informational campaign on hazard of radiation sources to human health and the environment in case of inadequate management will be arranged.

In development of the legal framework for voluntary surrender of radiation sources and radioactive waste and successful completion of the campaign, similar projects will be held in other regions of Ukraine. editorial board