Hungarian repository receives first waste

18 December 2012

A ceremony has been held to mark the official opening of Hungary's national radioactive waste repository in Bataapati. During the ceremony, the first package of waste was placed in the initial storage chamber.

Bataapati repository inauguration (RHK)
The first concrete container, holding nine drums of waste, is placed in the disposal chamber at Bataapati (Image: Puram)

After fifteen years of work and an investment of HUF68 billion ($310 million), the first disposal chamber at Bataapati in southern Hungary has now been completed by the country's Public Limited Company for Radioactive Waste Management (Puram). The inauguration of the repository took place on 5 December. The ceremony took place in two stages: first with the cutting of a ribbon at the western incline to the repository and then the cutting of a ribbon at the entrance to the storage chamber, some 250 metres below ground.

Underground disposal vaults at Bataapati will eventually hold all the low-level and short-lived intermediate-level radioactive wastes (LILW) resulting from the operation and decommissioning of the Paks nuclear power plant. The small volume of long-lived ILW and high-level wastes will be managed separately.

The Bataapati facility and its licences will eventually allow for the disposal of some 40,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste. The surface facilities of the repository were opened in October 2008. The first disposal chamber can accommodate 4600 drums of waste contained in 510 reinforced concrete containers.

The first phase of the project will see three pairs of LILW caverns constructed. The repository will then be extended so that the more active waste is isolated in one particular bedrock block. The repository will be operated automatically, with a closed-line camera network sending signals to the surface control room.

During the repository's inauguration, the first concrete container - holding nine drums of waste - was moved from a temporary storage facility at the surface and placed in the initial chamber of the repository.

Waste drums will be stacked at a depth of 200-250 metres below the surface (0-50 metres above sea level) inside caverns within the granite bedrock. Studies have shown this bedrock is composed of large blocks separated from one another by impermeable clayish deformation zones with very low levels of groundwater movement - just a few centimetres per year.

The disposal caverns, accessed via a pair of inclined tunnels, will be back-filled with a combination of clay and concrete with 50-60% crushed granite, which is intended to retain any radioactive isotopes that may escape from waste packages over the long term. The facility is designed to make it possible to retrieve all the waste packages until it is finally closed.

Bataapati's modular design will allow for its expansion should the Paks plant be granted a 20-year licence extension and if Hungary decides to construct new reactors.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News