Russian radioactive waste rules need simplifying

27 November 2014

Russia's national operator for radioactive waste management (NO RAO) said yesterday it has prepared a proposal jointly with the country's regulator to amend legislation to help streamline the approval procedures required for new facilities.  

NO RAO's statement followed its director Yuri Polyakov’s meeting with Rostechnadzor's public council on 25 November.

Polyakov presented a report at the meeting in which he highlighted the legal requirement to obtain licences "at every stage of the life cycle of a facility", NO RAO said.

"In order to receive these often overlapping licences, you need to prepare large batches of documents and employ a lot of expertise, which adversely impacts the schedule of a project," Polyakov said, according to the NO RAO statement. "To save time, there should be a mechanism of 'combined licences', the receipt of which should be made possible before the start of construction of a facility."

NO RAO said Rostechnadzor's public council supports Polyakov's proposal and has recommended that the regulator works with NO RAO on proposals to change legislation and regulation for the safe use of nuclear energy in a way that optimizes the timing and procedures for licensing its activities and facilities. In turn, Rostechnadzor and Rosatom - the state nuclear corporation and NO RAO's parent company - will prepare a joint appeal to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology to consider the possibility of amending national legislation. NO RAO last month highlighted the main problems it faces in siting disposal facilities.

These problems include a lack of common rules on resolving property disputes, difficulty in managing individual and local authority responsibilities, and a need for financing mechanisms to support municipalities in the areas where such facilities are to be located.

Polyakov presented his recommendations on these issues at a meeting with Rosatom on 14 October, which was chaired by Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko.

"There are three critical issues in the operation of radioactive waste management enterprises: public acceptance, financing and property-land relations," Polyakov said. "Each of these has equal importance - the absence of a solution for one means the whole system can't function."

NO RAO is a federal-state unitary enterprise set up in March 2012 for handling all nuclear waste materials and final disposal of radioactive waste. Its functions and tariffs are set by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Its branches are at Zheleznogorsk in Krasnoyarsk, Seversk in Tomsk, Dimitrovgrad in Ulyanovsk and Novouralsk in Sverdlovsk.

Plans for disposal of low- and intermediate-level wastes (LLW/ILW) are to be in place by 2018. It is expected to establish repositories for 300,000 cubic metres of LLW/ILW, and an underground research laboratory in Nizhnekansky granitoid massif at Zheleznogorsk near Krasnoyarsk for study into the feasibility of disposal of solid high-level radioactive waste (HLW) and solid medium-level long-lived wastes by 2021. A decision on the final HLW repository is expected by 2025.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News