Contact Expert Group

Chairman's Summing Up of the Tenth CEG Meeting's Major Decisions and Recommendations

(Helsinki, Finland, 23 - 25 May 2000)

[View the Agenda]

"The 10th meeting of the Contact Expert Group (CEG) for international radwaste projects in the Russian Federation*) took place on May 22-25, 2000 in Helsinki, Finland. The meeting was attended by 64 participants from 11 countries, 5 international organizations, and the EC."

The meeting considered three major topical issues, namely:

In addition the following presentations have been made and received with interest:

- The "Northern Dimension of the European Union"

by Ari Heikkinen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland

- Intergovernmental Working Group: co-operation between parliamentary and administration officials relating to nuclear spent fuel and waste problems in the Russian Federation

by Thomas Jandl, Bellona USA

- First results of the international co-operation project "Feasibility investigations into a nuclear repository on Novaya Zemlya"

by Jürgen Krone, DBE, Germany

- Description of the US Co-operative Threat Reduction Program

by Capt. Kenneth Trass, USN

- Presentation covering ongoing US activities which support the IAEA CEG/RF "Highest Priority Tasks"

by Randal Scott, US Department of Energy

RF Federal Programme on "Nuclear and Radiation Security of Russia" for 2000-2006

The RF Federal Programme on "Nuclear and Radiation Security of Russia" for 2000-2006 has been presented to the CEG and discussed in details. As has been reported the Programme replaces from 1 January 2001 the Russian Federation Government Resolution No. 1030, dated 23 October 1995, On the Federal Program "Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Materials Management, Recovery and Disposition in 1996-2005".

The CEG highly appreciated the detailed presentation of the Programme by the RF CEG member and the discussion followed and noted the great importance of the Programme for the planning of the further CEG activities including the work of the SWG;

Strategy for Radwaste and Spent Fuel Management in the RF

-- Revised and updated SWG reports (full and short versions) "On Russian strategy on management of RAW and SNF"

The Chairman of the Strategy Working Group (SWG) introduced the latest two reports by the Group (Report R3 - "Additional working papers prepared for the WG Chairman" and Report R4 - "Agreed summary of work to date"). He pointed out that it should be clear that what the Group is preparing was not a proposal for a Russian strategy for radioactive waste. Such work was the sole responsibility of the Russian authorities. Report R4 was, in fact, an "understanding" or interpretation of part of the overall Russian strategy for radioactive waste to assist potential donors in prioritising their support. He thanked both the contractors and the participants of the Working Group for working under very tight time constraints and, in particular, Mr. Lev Tchernajenko for his invaluable contribution to the finalization of the text.

Copies of the two reports were distributed to the meeting and their main findings presented by the four contractors (AEA Technology, NNC, DBE and SGN). The "Agreed Summary" identified three "priority programme areas" (see report Section 8): remediation of the naval bases in NW Russia; the recovery and safe interim storage of SNF afloat; and, the management of high-level liquid radwaste and sludges in fuel cycle facilities. The SWG had also identified the management of radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants as another major area of concern, but held the view, strongly supported by the Russian members, that the utilities, being commercial operators, should use their own funds to solve the problem. A number of other tasks were identified as "worth specific mention" (see report Section 8.4). It was clear that there was an urgent need for new spent fuel storage, though still considerable discussion about its location. Another major factor in the equation was the rate at which high level waste could be vitrified at Mayak. Policy and investment decisions would have to be taken soon.

The CEG thanked the SWG and warmly welcomed the reports.

It was clear from the discussions that the understanding of the Russian strategy in the "Agreed Summary" was in line with the thinking of both Russian and Western experts. The Russian member agreed that the data presented in the report gave an accurate representation of the actual situation and could be used as such to prioritise international support.

As the Group had only received the latest detailed information on the morning of the meeting,

the CEG agreed that:

-there should be a period in which the CEG members could submit comments before giving their formal endorsement. Any comments are to be sent to the SWG Chairman by 25 June. Absence of comments - or comments of a non-controversial nature - would be taken as formal endorsement of the report.

-it was hoped that a "final" text could be circulated soon after the closing date for comments. Only in the event of issues of substance that could not be resolved by mail, would the report have to be submitted for endorsement at the next CEG.

The CEG requested the SWG:

- to continue its work for development of assessments and recommendations in some other, important from its point of view, co-operation areas;

- to circulate these materials to the CEG members at least one month before the next CEG meeting and to present them for the meeting's consideration.

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.

"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"

The RF expert presented a detailed "Plan of Measures" suggested for realization of the most important projects in the frame of the RF strategy in the North-West region and under the CEG High Priority Tasks.

It contains, inter alia, a list of 60 new important Projects being suggested for international co-operation under 8 major Tasks of 5 Directions.

The CEG highly appreciating the presented material believes that it requires a comprehensive study in conjunction with the SWG reports and recommendations, and with due account of the previous CEG's prioritization efforts.

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

The CEG Executive Secretary presented an updated (on the basis of SWG's R4 recommendations and the "Plan of Measures" presented by the RF) summary information on the status of and problems of the CEG activity in identifying the CEG Highest Priorities of support areas.

The CEG acknowledged the value of the presented summary information and noted that three pertinent documents have been presented on the subject:

a) The SWG papers which describe SWG work, and which include an opinion about priorities for assistance to the RF and describe three program areas which, in the opinion of SWG, should have priority.

b) The RF "Plan of Measures" which is a statement of projects ("measures") which in the view of the RF should be pursued for the sake of "Environmental Safety" and "Remediation".

c) A set of "Highest Priority Tasks"

The CEG agreed (in parallel with the finalization of its work on the major key "Programme Areas" of concern)

-"to concentrate its 'short term', 'small scale' efforts on fast realization of those projects, which are consistent with donor priorities and resources."

The CEG noted that some problems of legal nature still at present limit the scope of co-operation.

CEG's organizational and financial matters

The CEG:

*) established under the auspices of the IAEA with the Secretariat operated by the IAEA