The 17th meeting of the Contact Expert Group (CEG) for International Radwaste Projects in the Russian Federation*/ was held on 18-20 November 2003 in Murmansk, Russian Federation. The meeting was attended by 75 participants from 13 countries and 6 international organisations.
The meeting considered three major topical issues, namely:
In addition the following presentations were made and received with interest:
Implementation of the Russian Programme on Nuclear Submarine Dismantling
Mr. V.Akhunov, Head of the Department for Decommissioning of Nuclear Installations, Minatom of Russia presented the main status of activities under the nuclear submarine (NS) dismantling programme.
He mentioned that in total 192 NSs were retired from the Navy including 116 subs in the Northern Region. Out of this number 58 submarines have been already dismantled (exactly one half) and 58 NSs yet have to be dismantled. In total 71 NSs still contain spent nuclear fuel (SNF) on board and 36 such submarines are located in the North-West Region of Russia. Substantial progress has been reached since the last CEG meeting in Murmansk 5 years ago, when the need to speed up NS dismantling was raised. More than 45 NSs were dismantled since that time.
One of the main problems now is safe management of SNF discharged from the submarines because this fuel has high enrichment and poses substantial hazard in terms of proliferation and terrorism. However, total amount of this fuel is about 200 tons, which is relatively small value compare to SNF from NPPs. Russian approach to management of this fuel is reprocessing at the extend possible in order to eliminate this potential proliferation danger and minimise the volume of high-level waste. Unfortunately many Western counterparts do not support the SNF reprocessing.
At the moment all necessary infrastructure for defuelling of submarines and safe management of SNF is available, including accumulation pads for SNF casks at sites of submarines' defuelling and SNF transhipment. Design of buffer storage for 154 SNF casks at Mayak plant has been developed, and no additional capacities for interim SNF storage will be build except for unreprocessable fuel that is being stored on board of the Lotta ship. This project includes construction of cask storage pad at Atomflot site in Murmansk, supply of necessary number of casks and removal of SNF from the Lotta ship. The project is supported by the UK Government.
Recently international assistance for NS dismantling substantially expanded. Two multi-purpose submarines are being dismantled under the contracts with Norway. USA assists Russia in dismantling of strategic submarines and construction of necessary infrastructure. UK is close to sign the contracts for dismantling of two Oscar-class submarines in Severodvinsk, and very soon the contract will be signed with Japan to dismantle one multi-purpose submarine at Zvezda shipyard in the Far East Region. Germany will sponsor construction of the on shore storage facility for reactor compartments in Sayda Bay. Further dismantling activities are being negotiated with other donors.
Taking into consideration the progress reached in NS dismantling, remediation of ex-naval bases became more and more important, and Minatom allocates more resources to this task. Main problems there are: removal of SNF, conditioning and removal of radioactive waste (RW), remediation of the territories. In order to solve these tasks Russian side has to establish regional centres for RW management and interim storage, to equip sites with installations for RW decontamination and compacting, and first of all, to set up safe working conditions for the personnel. Mr. V.Akhunov suggested to arrange a special CEG workshop to discuss methods and techniques for management of RW as applied to remediation of nuclear facilities and sites in order to select the most suitable equipment and installations for further procurement and use.
He also mentioned necessity to decommission two nuclear heavy battle cruisers and a number of nuclear service ships and suggested to investigate possibility for international assistance for this work. In conclusion Mr. Akhunov thanked CEG for assistance to Russia in expanding international cooperation, which has been provided by the CEG during five years after the last CEG meeting hold in Murmansk.
Remediation of the Andreeva Bay site
The following presentations were given under this agenda item:
During presentations and discussion that followed it was recognised that infrastructure at the site was substantially improved under Norwegian assistance: new assess road was built to deliver personnel and equipment to the site, physical protection of the site and radiation protection of the personnel have been upgraded, administrative building and auxiliary systems were commissioned.
Activities under the UK assistance moved to implementation stage. Preparatory work for SNF management and remediation of Building No.5 has been started. Design work for construction of the roofing above the SNF dry storage unit 3A is close to completion. Actual construction activities will be carried out next year. Detailed surveys and feasibility studies for SNF management and remediation of Building No.5 will be initiated soon.
Sweden provides assistance in feasibility study on RW management and supports project on improvement of communication with the public. A film on remediation of the Andreeva Bay was produced under this project and demonstrated to the CEG meeting participants. Both projects will continue in 2004.
Radiation protection and working conditions of the personnel are the first priority for the SevRAO Administration, and many improvements were implemented in this area with assistance of Western donors. Radiation monitoring of the site will be further improved under the assistance of all countries involved.
During final discussion of this agenda item it was recognised that Andreeva Bay is the most challenging issue. Significant progress has been reached there, however, a lot of work is still to be done. This is very expensive task and requires multilateral efforts for successful solution. In this situation it is important that the projects, sponsored by different donors, complement each other and well coordinated. Informational exchange between main participants of the Andreeva Bay projects and other potential donors is important and should be established on the regular basis.
Main outcomes and findings of the CEG workshop on Remediation of the Gremikha Ex-Naval Base (29-31 October 2003, Cadarache, France) were presented at the meeting. CEG decided to support the workshop conclusions and recommended for implementation the projects proposed by the workshop. CEG agreed to present update on the Gremikha remediation at the next plenary meeting.
CEG organizational and financial matters
Draft of Terms of Reference for informational support group was presented and discussed at the meeting. CEG recognised importance of the informational support for donors, and it was decided that the document should be updated with assistance of the CEG Vice-Chairman in order to address clearly donors' needs.
CEG discussed the paper on improvement of the CEG coordinating mechanism. It was agreed that the CEG is not in a position to coordinate different programmes and initiatives, but has to cooperate with them on the regular basis. In order to establish such contacts it was decided that the CEG Executive Secretary would prepare a draft of the note about the CEG experience, and capabilities with the proposal to serve as a technical advisor and "project facilitator" for donors. The strength of the CEG being a forum for discussing the technical challenges facing nuclear clean up in NW Russia. The note will be finalised in cooperation with the CEG Chairman and the CEG parties, and then sent to Senior Officials Group (SOG) of the G8 Global Partnership Programme and to other governing bodies of different CEG-related programmes. It will be advisable to present information about the CEG at the next meeting of SOG.
It was agreed also that Denmark (as a signatory of the MNEPR Agreement) and Japan (as a G8 country) should be invited to join the CEG, since other countries participated in MNEPR and G8 Global Partnership Programme are already the parties of the CEG.
CEG discussed participation of non-governmental organisations (NGO) in the CEG meetings and workshops. CEG decided that it is not possible for NGOs to attend the full CEG meetings and workshops in a capacity of participants or observers. Nevertheless, it was agreed that the CEG should cooperate with NGOs and would identify appropriate special sessions during future CEG meetings, which could be attended by NGO representatives (and other interested parties), and provide more information through the CEG website. The CEG members can decide on participation of NGOs' representatives as members of their delegation.
The CEG Secretariat reports were received with interest. CEG decided to continue further development of a new CEG database on the basis of the prototype, presented by the Executive Secretary. CEG recognised importance of close collaboration of all parties involved in development and further maintenance of the database.
CEG recognised that the CEG workshops are useful tool for initiation of new projects, and support to organisation of these workshops given by the CEG Secretariat needs to be provided for the future workshops also. In order to allocate funds in the CEG Secretariat budget for this work, CEG decided to keep for 2004 contribution of the CEG member-countries to the CEG Secretariat budget at the current level of $11,111 US.
Taken into consideration the fact that Mr. T.Norendal recently has got new assignment and is not able to continue as a CEG Chairman, and in accordance with the CEG Terms of Reference, the CEG decided that Mr. A.Heyes, Vice-Chairman of the CEG should be acting CEG Chairman until the next CEG plenary meeting, when both Chairman and Vice-Chairman will be elected; two-year term of the newly elected persons will start from the date of their election. CEG recognised great contribution of Mr. T.Norendal to increase of the CEG efficiency and extension of cooperation with Russian Federation on resolution on nuclear legacy problems, and thanked him for chairing the CEG during the last three years. Vice-Chairman of the CEG will send a special gratitude note to Mr. T.Nonerdal on behalf of the CEG.
CEG supported proposal of the Russian side to discuss experience and results of the 8-years operation of the CEG at the next plenary meeting. CEG decided to organise in 2004 one plenary CEG meeting and two CEG workshops with the following topics:
The CEG Secretariat will support preparation of the workshops in a way similar to those organised in 2003. CEG appreciated proposals of UK, ISTC and the European Commission to host the CEG events above (one each). Exact time and location will be decided through communication between the parties.
CEG thanked Norwegian side for co-sponsoring the 17th CEG meeting and the Russian side for excellent arrangements made for the meeting and the technical tours.