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IAEA Helps Member States Do More Cost Effective Management of Decommissioning Waste

JAVYS experts explain to course participants how containers with metallic waste pass clearance dosimetry control on exit from processing area. (Photo: JAVYS)

Decommissioning of nuclear facilities produces large quantities of slightly radioactive material which can be disposed of or reused, but first has to be cleared from nuclear regulatory control. The procedure to release such materials from nuclear regulatory control involves a series of measurements and conforming to national regulations and international standards.

Scientists, engineers and regulatory authorities from 20 Member States recently participated in an IAEA regional training course to learn more about the best practices in this field. The course demonstrated how existing engineering approaches and measuring equipment can facilitate decommissioning projects, while leading to significant reduction of waste management costs.

“Most of waste arising from decommissioning has no or very low level of radioactivity,” said Michael Ojovan, a radioactive waste specialist at the IAEA. “Once this waste is cleared, it can be dealt with as any other industrial waste. It can be disposed of or, even better, it can be reused for other purposes or recycled. Learning how to do that efficiently is a great benefit to our Member States.”

The training course in Bratislava, Slovakia, was held at the Nuclear and Decommissioning Company JAVYS.

“By closely cooperating with the IAEA and hosting such courses, we contribute to the safe implementation of procedures for free release of waste and help ensure cost effective management of nuclear decommissioning,” said Anton Masár, Vice Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors and Director of Finance and Services Division.

The course covered requirements, clearance limits and practical methods to characterize and manage radioactive waste subject to clearance. It included practical exercises so participants could use the knowledge and understanding gained from the presentations and discussions. Participants also visited Jaslovske Bohunice Nuclear Power Plant and Mochovce disposal sites for low level waste and very low level waste, both operated by JAVYS.

“This course gave me technical knowledge to manage slightly contaminated pieces of material at the centralized facility of radioactive waste management in Moldova. That is especially great, because it will help reduce the storage costs,” said Ruslan Papusoi from the Republic of Moldova.

Alexander Ermolaev, a participant from Lithuania, said he appreciated learning more about the procedures and equipment used for decommissioning projects in Slovakia. “I also noted similarities, which will be useful for the decommissioning project at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant,” he added.

The training course, held in the last week of September, was responding to a growing demand for IAEA assistance to Member States facing large and small decommissioning projects in practical implementation of clearance procedures. These include both unconditional and conditional release, technological and characterization approaches. The course was organized under the IAEA regional technical cooperation project RER9143, designed to enhance radioactive waste management capabilities in Member States.

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