NUKEM hands over Chernobyl Waste Treatment Project to its Customer
On 24 April 2009, NUKEM Technologies GmbH, based in Alzenau (Germany), handed over a turnkey waste treatment centre for solid radioactive waste (ICSRM = Industrial Complex for Radwaste Management) to its customer, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The project was primarily financed by the European Commission’s TACIS program, with additional funding provided by the Ukrainian government. High-ranking representatives of the European Commission, Ukraine, and partners involved in the project attended the handover ceremony held on-site at the power plant.
With the delivery of the plant to the customer, NUKEM is now the first western company to successfully complete a waste treatment project at the Chernobyl location.
Solid waste accumulated from the power plant operations and the decommissioning of blocks 1 to 3 is conditioned in the waste treatment centre. The waste is processed in three steps: First, the solid radioactive waste temporarily stored in the bunkers on the grounds of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is removed for treatment. In the next step, waste from the bunkers as well as the solid radioactive waste amassed in the course of decommissioning blocks 1-3 is processed into a form suitable for permanent safe disposal and storage. The following treatment technologies are used for low and intermediate level waste: separation into combustible / compactable / non-compactable waste, incineration, high-force compaction, and cementation. In addition, highly radioactive and long-lived solid waste is sorted out for temporary separate storage on the premises of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. In a third step, the conditioned solid waste materials are transferred to containers suitable for permanent safe storage.
Treatment of the waste represents a significant contribution to improving the environmental situation in Chernobyl. The project also benefits the local economy: a major portion of the work, including the approval and construction planning, supply of miscellaneous components, as well as construction and installation jobs, has been contracted out to Ukrainian companies.
Within the scope of this project, NUKEM already handed over an Engineered Near Surface Disposal Facility to Technocenter, the operator, at the end of 2007. In this facility, short-lived radioactive waste accumulated in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is stored after prior conditioning. The repository is located 17 kilometres away from the power plant at the VEKTOR complex within the 30-km zone. The storage area is designed to hold 55,000 m3 of treated waste. The waste stored in the facility will be subject to radiological monitoring for 300 years. After this period of time has passed, the radioactivity of the waste will have decayed to such an extent that monitoring is no longer required.