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26 Aug 2019

Belarus government okays strategy on managing spent nuclear fuel

Belarus government okays strategy on managing spent nuclear fuel

MINSK, 26 August (BelTA) – The government has approved a strategy on managing spent nuclear fuel of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The relevant decision is stipulated by the Council of Ministers’ resolution No.558 of 22 August 2019, BelTA has learned.

According to the strategy, the preferred way of managing spent nuclear fuel is getting it processed in Russia and shipping back waste to Belarus in the form of glasslike matrix, which contains radionuclides of the cesium-strontium variety except for long-lived radionuclides.

The spent nuclear fuel is supposed to be processed after a period of temporary storage in Belarus and/or Russia.

Procedures are being worked out to set aside money over the course of operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in order to accumulate a sum sufficient for managing nuclear fuel and radioactive waste by the time the nuclear power plant is decommissioned.

Before spent nuclear fuel is shipped back to Belarus approximately by 2050, it will be necessary to make sure there are facilities able to handle it in the country. The strategy suggests considering the possibility of using one site to store products resulting from the processing of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste generated in the course of operating the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

The overall cost of various options for managing spent nuclear fuel using the existing technology is estimated at $2.5-3.5 billion over the course of operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (up to 100 years).

In line with the strategy it is necessary to put together and sign an agreement on cooperation with Russia in managing spent nuclear fuel in 2020 at the latest.

The facility for the intermediate (long-term) storage of spent nuclear fuel with an option to expand its capacity is supposed to be built in 2028 at the latest.

The decision to place the storage facility and the facility to store spent nuclear fuel in dry containers in a specific location, including at premises of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, will require additional studies during the pre-design (pre-investment) stage.

The press service of the Belarusian government explained the strategy had been developed in order to form and implement a technologically optimal, economically feasible, environmentally and socially safe government policy on handling spent nuclear fuel of the nuclear power plant.

The document has been put together taking into account international scientific and practical experience of handling spent fuel.

The Energy Ministry has been entrusted with general coordination and oversight of the strategy’s implementation.

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