Slovakian parliament bans foreign waste services

09 September 2021

Processing radioactive waste or used fuel from other countries has been banned in Slovakia, after a parliamentary resolution yesterday. The move will force the closure of a business unit of JAVYS, potentially leading to job losses once ongoing work is completed.

A shipment of radioactive resins and sludges leaves Italy for Slovakia in 2020 (Image: Sogin)

The ban was imposed by way of a resolution to amend the Environment Act of 1992. It "explicitly prohibits activities related to radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel which does not originate in Slovakia," parliamentary documents said. Furthermore, it places any such activities "in the context of pollution and environmental damage."

The original motion was raised by national council members Jaromír Šíbl, Boris Kollár, Alexandra Pivkova and Anna Zemanova, who sought to "contribute to the reduction of the burden and endangerment of the environment and at the same time to the prevention of the emergence of health risks." Without identifying specific risks or environmental harm stemming from current practices, their motion proposed to minimise any potential risk by completely banning the import of radioactive waste materials into the country

A resolution to accept the motion was passed by majority and will be officially communicated by Prime Minister Eduard Heger to President Zuzana Čaputová. It is effective retrospectively from 1 September but does not impact contracts made before that date.

Parliamentary documents said that impact on business was not considered as it would only prohibit future work, but Slovakian decommissioning specialist JAVYS has previously warned that this outcome would threaten jobs.

JAVYS undertakes radioactive waste processing for Slovakian and overseas clients. It currently has four contracts with Sogin of Italy to process a total of 865 tons of low-level radioactive material from the shut-down Caorso nuclear power plant. The work and the return of the materials are scheduled to be complete by 2023.

The company's CEO, Pavol Štuller, wrote in a staff magazine on 6 August that JAVYS had abandoned efforts to secure new contracts and a ban would "significantly affect the company's management." He warned, "I cannot rule out that it will also affect employment."

Transport authority change

Other changes to Slovakia's Environment Act in the same resolution have transferred competency for permitting the transport of radioactive material from the Ministry of Transport and Construction to the Public Health Office, which already has a leading role in radiation protection. The government said this would be a more coherent arrangement and more in line with other countries.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News