Waste Technology Section

Contact Expert Group - the History

An important objective of the International Atomic Energy Agencyÿs nuclear power related activities is to facilitate and strengthen international co-operation for the safe management of radioactive waste.

The Russian Federation has been facing a number of complicated ecological problems deriving from management of radioactive waste accumulated as a result of past activities in production of nuclear weapons, use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and as a result of the reductions in nuclear arms.

A number of countries and international organizations started co-operation projects with the Russian Federation in the field of handling accumulated radioactive waste and spent fuel in order to resolve these severe problems.

In May 1995 the International Atomic Energy Agency organized a seminar on "International Co-operation on Nuclear Waste Management in the Russian Federation", that was requested and sponsored by the Nordic countries. The Seminar, participants from the Russian Federation and 17 countries and international organizations co-operating with the Russian Federation in waste management projects, recognized the need for setting up a body to assist in co-ordinating their efforts. Such co-ordination would help to avoid redundancy and duplication, assure that priorities are properly assessed and made known to international community and provide points of contacts to facilitate co-operation.

For the purpose of setting up such a co-ordinating body, a follow-up meeting took place in September 1995 in Stockholm. Participants of this meeting decided to establish the Contact Expert Group (CEG) and developed the Groupÿs Terms of Reference. All countries and international organizations providing resources to assist waste management projects in the Russian Federation became eligible to join the CEG. The International Atomic Energy Agency was asked to perform secretarial support of the Group.

The 1st working meeting of the CEG was held in March 1996 in Moscow. This meeting dealt mainly with organizational issues. On the 1st of April 1996, the IAEA Director General established at the Agency the CEG Secretariat (1½ person), which immediately became functional.

The 2nd CEG meeting was held in Vienna in September 1996 and the Plan of Action for 1996-1997, which has been prepared by the CEG Secretariat, was considered and approved. The meeting also reviewed the progress in establishing an electronic database of about 100 co-operation projects under way, planned or suggested and outlined steps for its practical use to harmonize co-operation, avoid overlapping and concentrate on more important, high priority projects.

The 3rd CEG meeting took place in Brussels in January 1997 and resulted in a number of important, action-oriented decisions and recommendations directed to strengthening co-operation in the most important high-priority areas, particularly in the nuclear submarineÿs spent fuel technological chain.

The 4th CEG meeting held in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 1997 focused its consideration on the status of waste management programmes in the most important technical areas in the North-West region of the Russian Federation, where the icebreakerÿs and most of the Navyÿs spent fuel has been accumulated. It also decided to continue CEG activities for two more years (1998-1999).

The 5th CEG meeting (Windermere, UK in November 1997) reviewed the situation at another end of spent fuel technological chain - at the PO "Mayak", where spent fuel is temporary stored before reprocessing (or disposal).

At the 6th CEG meeting, that was held in April 1998 in Augusta, USA, the Group again considered the importance to concentrate international support in solving the nuclear waste and spent fuel management problems in the RF on the most important and worthy of immediate attention needs, identified these needs more precisely and developed a consensus on "Initial (First Priority) Projects" for international co-operation on nuclear waste and spent fuel management in the Russian Federation.

At the 7th CEG meeting a list of the CEG's "Highest Priority Tasks" has been reviewed on the basis of presented by the Russian Federation new materials and information and approved as the CEG recommendations to its member countries / international organizations, as well as for possible consideration at the next meeting of the Euro-Barents Arctic Council and the Summit meetings next summer.

At its 8th CEG meeting in Norway (May 1999) the CEG, considering the situation regarding waste management and spent nuclear fuel in the Russian Federation as alarming and requiring significantly broader and timely international support, decided to approach the leaders of the G8 countries directly with concise information on the problems with nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel in Russia and appeal to consider the possibility of concerted assistance in solving these acute problems.

The 9th CEG meeting has discussed as its major topic "Strategy for Radwaste and Spent Fuel Management in the RF", both on the basis of a document presented by the Russian side and an assessment by the Ad Hock Working Group on "WM and SNF Strategy in the RF". The finalization of a single CEG document on the subject is planned for the next CEG meeting in May 2000 in Finland. The CEG considers that the document is of great importance for its efforts to encourage and justify substantially higher financial support in solving RF's most important priority projects of high safety and ecological significance.

The 10th CEG meeting (Helsinki, May 2000) considered the following major topical issues:

 

  1. RF Federal Programme on "Nuclear and Radiation Security of Russia" for 2000-2006 (RF Government, Resolution No. 149 of 22.02.2000)

     

  2. Strategy for Radwaste and Spent Fuel Management in the RF (on the basis of revised and updated Strategy Working Group's (SWG) reports),

     

  3. Plan of measures for provision of environmental safety in decommissioning of nuclear submarines and nuclear-powered ships, radwaste and spent nuclear fuel interim storage facilities (on-shore and floating) and remediation of radiation hazardous sites,

     

  4. Revised information on the content and status of the CEG Highest Priority Tasks.

CEG recognized the great importance of the RF Federal Programme for the planning of the further CEG activities and positively assessed the work of the SWG. The CEG also agreed that further work should be undertaken on the development of task descriptions in the recommended by the SWG three priority Programme Areas and that the mechanism of implementation of this task could be discussed at the next meeting.

At the 11th CEG meeting (Cherbourg, France, October 2000) CEG fully endorsed final report on Strategy for Radwaste and Spent Fuel Management in the Russian Federation prepared by the Strategy Working Group. The CEG reviewed status of implementation of Russian Federal Programmes on radwaste and spent nuclear fuel management and most urgent projects requiring international support. The CEG discussed its role, mandate and working methods and it was decided to organize an ad-hoc group for review and modification of the CEG Terms of Reference.

At the 12th CEG meeting (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, May 2001) CEG discussed general concept and organization of the Project Working Groups (PWG), which should serve as a working tool for initiation of new multilateral projects. Two project proposals presented by the Russian side were discussed and one of them (Interim SNF storage at the Mayak reprocessing plant) was endorsed for its further development and implementation. Draft of the updated Terms of Reference of the CEG was presented and discussed also.

At the 13th CEG meeting (Oskarshamn, Sweden, November 2001) CEG discussed general approach and specific projects aimed on remediation of SNF and radwaste storage site at Andreeva Bay, and several other projects. CEG regards the Andreeva Bay as a high priority project for implementation. Several CEG parties agreed to initiate specific activities under by-lateral agreements. Further multilateral efforts will be granted after the legal framework for cooperation is available. Final Draft of the updated Terms of Reference of the CEG was presented and agreed at the meeting also.

At the 14th CEG meeting meeting (Vienna, Austria, April 2002) CEG discussed RF Federal Program on decommissioning of nuclear submarines and major results in 2001. Special attention was paid to remediation of Andreeva Bay SNF and radwaste storage site, including current status of radiation facilities, results of work in 2001 and new projects proposals for safety improvements at this site. Several CEG member-countries agreed to provide additional resources for this work.

Noting that currently cooperative activities are conducted under different multi-lateral and bi-lateral agreements and a new umbrella agreements will be in effect soon, further coordination of these projects is necessary in order to eliminate overlapping and duplication, concentrate resources on major priorities and thus increase the efficiency of international cooperation. Since this is the main task of the CEG, it was agreed that a special coordinating unit (group) with the above mentioned objectives should be established under the CEG and will report to the CEG. Mandate, terms and conditions of this unit should be discussed at the next CEG meeting.

At the 15th CEG meeting (Brussels, Belgium, October 2002) CEG discussed major progress in implementation of the RF Federal Program on decommissioning of nuclear submarines and Russian proposals on new international projects. Status of cooperative activities aimed at remediation of the Andreeva Bay storage site were reviewed in details. It was noted that this project is of the main priority of the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund, which is to be operational after signing of the Agreement on Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programmes in the Russian Federation (MNEPR).

In discussion of the CEG coordination role it was recognised that there is a need to establish strong relations with the new multilateral initiatives such as NDEP and Global Partnership Programme recently launched by G8 countries. It was noted that in order to improve informational support of the CEG members and other potential donors, CEG ad hoc meetings and workshops focused on specific topics should be arranged in between the CEG plenary meetings, and the CEG Secretariat should take a strong role in organization of these events.

At the 16th CEG meeting (The Hague, Netherlands, April 2003) CEG discussed major progress in implementation of the RF Program on decommissioning of nuclear submarines and the CEG organisational issues. Russian initiative on establishment of a working group under the CEG on informational support related to Russian Programme on Comprehensive Dismantling of Nuclear Submarines was discussed in details and fully supported by the CEG. The role of this group would be to analyse major Russian problems, overview status of implementation of co-operative projects, develop and present project proposals.

Status of cooperative activities aimed at remediation of the Andreeva Bay storage site were reviewed in details. It was recognised that Andreeva Bay is a most challenging site, and several countries have initiated co-operative activities on its remediation. However practical resolution of the most difficult tasks – SNF management and Building no. 5 – was not started. After the MNEPR Agreement is signed, which is expected soon, the NDEP fund will become operational, and additional resources could be used for Andreeva Bay. Other donors are invited to join the efforts.

During discussion of the ways to improve coordinating mechanism at the CEG, it was agreed that CEG can suggest informational support to different bilateral and multilateral programmes, give them a clear picture of what needs to be done, make recommendations on priorities and deliver technical proposals for new projects.

Recognising importance of the CEG activities and anticipating further extension of international co-operation in the CEG-related areas, CEG decided to continue the CEG and its Secretariat operation for another two years under the same organisational and financial conditions.

At the 17th CEG meeting (Murmansk, Russian Federation, November 2003) CEG CEG discussed major progress in implementation of the RF Program on decommissioning of nuclear submarines, remediation of Andreeva Bay site and CEG organisational issues.

It was recognised that infrastructure at the Andreeva Bay site was substantially improved under Norwegian assistance. Activities under the UK assistance on SNF management and under Swedish assistance on improvement of SRW management moved to implementation stage. Radiation protection and working conditions of the personnel are the first priority for SevRAO, and some progress has been reached in this area with assistance of Western donors. It was recognised that projects sponsored by different donors should 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. CEG recognised that the CEG workshops are useful tool for initiation of new projects. CEG decided to organise in 2004 two CEG workshops with the following topics:

  • Practice and tools for risk management and the environmental impact assessment as applied for dismantling of nuclear submarines and remediation of sites, and
  • Methods and techniques for radioactive waste management (decontamination, conditioning, treatment, etc.) applicable for remediation of isolated nuclear sites (e.g. Andreeva Bay and Gremikha).

At the 18th CEG meeting (In Russian) (Moscow, Russian Federation, October 2004) CEG discussed status of cooperation under the G8 Global Partnership Programme, remediation of the Gremikha site and a number of the CEG organisational issues.

It was recognised that several countries, including Canada, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom, United States of America, Japan and Sweden are actively implementing NS dismantlement and nuclear clean-up projects. Preparatory activities for the RF-Italian Programme are being conducted and project initiation will start after ratification of the Agreement between RF and Italy, which is expected early next year. Several important projects were initiated under the TACIS Programme. At the same time no activities on submarine dismantling have been started under the French assistance programme.

It was recognised that long-term planning is important not only for the Russian side but for the donors as well. The need for improvement of coordination between the donors participating in projects on Andreeva Bay remediation and those who is planning to join these efforts was underlined. In this regard the establishment of the Andreeva Bay coordination group was supported.

CEG recognised that international assistance for remediation of the Gremikha site has not been provided. Russian funding is not enough to stabilise and improve the situation there, so Western support is urgently needed.

The 19th CEG meeting (in Russian)(October 2005, Ottawa, Canada) discussed the following major issues:

  • State of remediation of the Andreeva Bay site and the Gremikha site.
  • Main outcomes and findings of the CEG workshops held in 2005.
  • State and perspectives of the Lepse project.
  • Lessons learned from cooperative projects.
  • CEG organizational and financial matters.

The meeting recognised that Coordination group for projects in Andreeva Bay is a useful tool for integration of activities supported by several donors at the relatively small site where there is a strong interdependence between the portfolio of projects funded by international donors. Establishment of the similar group for Gremikha site was supported. It was appreciated that several projects were initiated there under the French assistance and EBRD and EC are prepared to start additional projects soon.

It was noted that the Lepse project will start soon after been on hold for several years. In several weeks Russian integrating company Aspect-Conversion will be contracted by EC to develop necessary technical documentation for this work including:

  • Feasibility study to select the best option;
  • Development of the selected option, getting necessary approvals;
  • Preparation of the documentation for tendering the industrial project.

All documentation including Environmental Impact Assessment will be developed according to the current Russian legislation and it should satisfy Western donors and Russian authorities.

The meeting elaborated a number of aspects identified as crucial for successful implementation of cooperative projects (see the meeting's Minutes) and discussed several organisational aspects.

The 20th CEG meeting ( in Russian) (October 2006, Munich, Germany) discussed the following major issues:

  1. Major achievements of international cooperation in 2005-2006.
  2. Main outcomes and findings of the CEG workshops held in 2006.
  3. Dismantlement of nuclear powered submarines.
  4. Remediation of contaminated sites.
  5. Dismantlement and replacement of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG).
  6. CEG organizational and financial matters.

The meeting recognised substantial progress gained in 2005-2006 in the CEG-related areas: first stage of the coastal reactor compartment storage facility was commissioned in Sayda Bay (NW Russia) and dry casks storage facility was built for icebreakers fuel at Atomflot site near Murmansk, work on remediation of the former naval bases and dismantlement of nuclear submarines also progressing well.

The CEG supported a project on construction of the regional centre for radioactive waste management and storage in Sayda Bay and recognised the need of additional assistance from Donors to the submarine dismantlement in the Pacific Region. A number of projects was proposed by the Russian side for the Far East Region and supported by the CEG.

The 21st CEG meeting (in Russian) (5-7 September 2007, Brugge, Belgium) discussed the following major issues:

  • Midterm milestone of the G8 Global Partnership Programme: Progress and results in NPS dismantlement and remediation of nuclear sites and achievements under bilateral and multilateral Nuclear Legacy programmes in the Russian Federation.
  • Main outcomes and findings of the CEG workshops held in 2007.
  • CEG organisational and financial matters.
  • CEG noted substantial progress reached in the Russian Federation within the frame of the G8 Global Partnership Programme in dismantlement of the retired nuclear powered submarines (NPS). CEG took into consideration that all submarines (except the accident ones) would be dismantled by the end of 2010 as the Russian side reported.

    Substantial improvements have been achieved in spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and radioactive waste (RW) management. Activities on remediation of the legacy storage facilities in the Andreeva Bay and in Gremikha are also progressing smoothly, but substantial preparatory work is still required before the actual SNF and RW removal may be initiated. Several donors are participating at each site. CEG members recognized that the allocated resources are not sufficient for the complete remediation of these sites. This work will continue long after 2012 – the Global Partnership final year. It is important to achieve tangible results from all current and proposed projects before 2012.

    CEG highly appreciated the completion of the Strategic Master Plan (SMP) development and the results achieved. CEG noted that SMP presents a unique comprehensive strategy and programme for elimination of the nuclear legacy in the NW Russia and formulates all major tasks that have to be carried out. CEG acknowledged the SMP importance as a document of high strategy level that will be a basis for further development of short-term and long-term programmes of Rosatom dealing with the dismantlement and remediation of sites in the NW Russia and also for planning of international cooperative efforts.

    Efforts of Western donors and the Russian Federation to ensure safety and security of RTGs are strongly supported by CEG.

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