RWE NUKEM lays cornerstone for the radioactive waste treatment centre in Chernobyl
- Major step forward in the project devoted to the construction of turnkey treatment facilities for solid radioactive waste
The laying of the cornerstone for solid radioactive waste treatment centre now being built by RWE NUKEM GmbH as a turnkey facility contracted by Energoatom of the Ukraine on November 11, 2003 represents a significant milestone in project progress. The project is funded by the European Union, whose representatives took part in the ceremony.
Roughly 40 per cent of project work has now been completed, and the facility is scheduled to be turned over to the client in mid 2005.
Radioactive waste treatment will represent a major contribution to the improvement of the overall environmental situation in Chernobyl. The project also benefits the local economy. A significant portion of the work, including planning for regulatory approval and project realization, the supply of plant components and construction and installation measures, has been contracted to Ukrainian firms. RWE NUKEM also maintains a local project office which is currently staffed by 13 permanent employees, of which 9 are from the Ukraine.
Accumulated solid waste from power plant operations and the decommissioning of blocks 1 - 3 will be conditioned at the waste treatment centre (ICSRM = Industrial Complex for Solid Radwaste Management): Waste conditioning will be accomplished in a three-step process. In the first phase, the solid radioactive waste materials presently stored in bunkers on the grounds of the power plant will be removed for treatment. The next step will involve processing of waste materials from the bunkers as well waste accumulated in the course of the decommissioning of blocks 1 - 3 into a form suitable for permanent safe storage. The following conditioning technologies will be used to process waste materials with low or intermediate radioactivity levels: sorting of burnable / compactable / non-compactable waste, incineration, high-pressure compaction, cementing. At this point, highly radioactive and long-lived solid waste materials will be sorted out for separate temporary storage on the grounds of the Chernobyl power plant. Then the conditioned solid waste materials will be transferred to containers suitable for permanent safe storage. In addition, waste recovered from the processing facility for liquid radioactive materials, which is also under construction at this time, will be suitably packed for storage. The permanent storage facility is located about 13 km from the Chernobyl power plant within the 30-km security zone to which public access is prohibited. Tested solutions based upon state-of-the-art technology which comply with relevant technical standards as well as Ukrainian regulations will be used in all processes.
RWE NUKEM has assumed responsibility as general contractor for the construction of all three plant complexes as turnkey facilities, to include planning, support in securing required regulatory approvals, production and construction as well as commissioning and transfer to the eventual plant operator.