Yanukovych signs into law storage facility for used nuclear waste at Chornobyl
President Yanukovych has signed a law aimed at creating a centralized storage facility for radioactive waste in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
According to an Interfax report back in October 2011, the Head of the State Agency for Managing the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone Volodymyr Kholosha stated then that the storage facility would “allow all of the radioactive waste from the territory of Ukraine that is stored at special facilities of bankrupt enterprises to be collected together and stored safely here for at least fifty years, " He said it would have capacity to accept 21, 000 items of radioactive waste per year.
The UK Ambassador, Leigh Turner stated in October that his country had allocated GBP 8 million for the construction of the storage facility, and the European Commission could grant an additional EUR 2 million for the project. He said that the storage facility could become a reliable place for storing over 400, 000 items of radioactive waste.
He stressed the importance of the fact that all radioactive waste on the territory of Ukraine would be far removed from residential areas, and this could prevent their illegal use by potential terrorists.
There is nothing at present on the website of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU], however it is worth mentioning that NECU and other environmental organizations have on a number of occasions expressed doubts about plans for a centralized storage facility in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
The following was reported in December 2009
The construction of such a centralized storage facility at Chornobyl runs counter to a number of decrees and decisions from executive and legislative bodies. These include Presidential Decrees, a decision of the National Security and Defence Council; as well as Cabinet of Ministers Resolutions. The Ministry for Environmental Protection in its State Environmental Impact Opinion No. 535 gave a negative assessment for plans to build a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear waste in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
Yet despite this, on 18 November 2009 a draft law was registered in the Verkhovna Rada aimed at passing as a base a draft law “On locating, planning and constructing a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear waste from VVER type reactors of Ukrainian nuclear power plants” (reg. no. 5050/P). This envisages the construction of a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear waste in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone.
The initiator - the National Nuclear Energy Company “Energoatom” – is insisting on placing the centralized storage facility specifically in the Chornobyl Zone because there is virtually no local population around the station. However in the event of force majeure circumstances, residents of the Chernihiv and Kyiv regions, as well as Belarus, could suffer. The Dnipro River, which is a water source for 70% of Ukraine’s population, could also be in jeopardy.
According to Artur Denysenko, Energy Coordinator for NECU, the plans not only fail to resolve the problems they are supposed to deal with, but create new difficulties. They will effectively destroy any chance of the Chornobyl zone ever become an area people can use. As well as being in violation of Ukrainian legislation and environmental structures, it is also economically unviable, and creates a new and potentially dangerous area on the border with Belarus.
Civic organizations are therefore suggesting that storage facilities for spent nuclear waste be built near the station as was the case at the Zaporizhya Nuclear Power Plant. This will make it possible to save on the infrastructure of the facility and remove the danger of transporting dangerous substances. This is even more the case since Energoatom itself considered this possibility and according to its calculations the plan would not be more expensive than the creation of a centralized storage facility. And the most important thing is that spent nuclear waste in storage facilities near stations will be under the permanent scrutiny of professionals.