Operation of second Spanish VLLW vault approved

07 July 2016

Spain's nuclear regulator has approved the start of operation of the second of four vaults for the disposal of very-low level radioactive waste (VLLW) at the El Cabril storage facility in Córdoba province.

El Cabril cell 30 - 460 (Enresa)
Vault 30 at El Cabril (Image: Enresa)

In 2006, the Directorate General for Energy Policy and Mines authorised Spanish decommissioning firm Enresa to construct a supplementary facility - comprising four vaults - for VLLW at the El Cabril low-level and intermediate-level waste (LLW/ILW) storage facility. Construction of the first disposal structure for VLLW - known as Vault 29 - was completed the following year, with waste disposal within it starting in 2008.

In 2013, Enresa submitted an application for approval for the construction and assembly of the second VLLW disposal structure, Vault 30. The Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, CSN) approved the application in 2014. Work began on the construction of Vault 30 later that year and was completed earlier this year.

At a recent plenary session, the CSN gave approval for start of disposal of VLLW within Vault 30.

Very-low level radioactive waste to be disposed of at El Cabril comprises solid materials, usually scrap metal and rubble, which contains radioactive isotopes. Most of it comes from the dismantling of nuclear power plants. Its low radioactive content entails less stringent requirements for its management.

VLLW arrives at the El Cabril facility in large sacks, drums or casks and it is directly deposited in the specific disposal structure. If treatment is required, it is sent to the corresponding area.

When the vaults reach full capacity, they will be covered with various layers and topped with a final layer of topsoil to enable integration into the environment. The site's monitoring and surveillance phase will begin at this time. This phase will last for approximately 60 years.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News