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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Nuclear fuel damage in Slovenian reactor
During a regular maintenance outage at the Krsko nuclear power plant in Slovenia, nuclear fuel was damaged.

Andrej Stritar, director of the Nuclear Safety Directorate, responded to a list of questions from Focus Association for Sustainable Development and Greenpeace Slovenia. Stritar said that on October 8, during an operation to transfer fuel from the reactor to the spent fuel pool, a fuel rod length of about 0.5m broke off and fell to the bottom of the spent fuel pool. Elevated radioactivity levels in the reactor pool, first detected in 2012, suggested a problem with fuel leaks.

Stritar said a report would be prepared into the incident but would not promise public release of the full report − his excuse is that release of the full report might jeopardise commercial intellectual property of the fuel manufacturer (Westinghouse).

Stritar said there are several possible causes of the incident such as small foreign objects that may damage the metal, or a manufacturing error.

Stritar said (translation by google-translate): "A finding of leaking fuel rods have not been evaluated by the INES scale, so we can not yet say what level would be."

The maintenance outage began on October 1 and will be extended beyond the planned 35-day period.

Questions and comments from Focus Association for Sustainable Development and Greenpeace Slovenia (google-translation):
Andrej Stritar's response to questions (google-translation):


Canada opens uranium sector to European investment, scraps new reactor plans 
A trade accord agreed in principle between Canada and the European Union (EU) will ease restrictions on European investment in Canada's uranium industry. It opens the door for companies like Areva SA and Rio Tinto to make much larger investments in Saskatchewan's uranium-rich Athabasca Basin. Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said that the changes would make the province's uranium mining projects "much more attractive" to EU investors and estimated that the province could see investments of up to US$2.4 billion over the next 15 years as a result of the agreement.[1]

Investment restrictions have been in place since 1970, when Ottawa introduced the non-residential ownership policy (NROP). The law prevents foreign companies from owning more than 49% of a uranium mine in Canada, unless they cannot find a Canadian partner. The NROP has limited the competition for Canadian uranium leader Cameco, which owns stakes in most of the major projects in the Athabasca. Cameco's position has been that the NROP should remain in place unless other countries open up to uranium investment as well. While this free trade deal may open up the European market for Cameco, a company spokesperson said there are no obvious uranium resource opportunities on the continent that are worth developing.[2]

The Ontario government announced in October that it has abandoned plans for two new nuclear power plants and will focus on refurbishing its ageing facilities instead.[3] Ontario Power Generation had received detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for the two reactor designs under consideration for new build at Darlington. The province's other nuclear operator, Bruce Power, has brought four mothballed units at the Bruce A plant back online but pulled back from plans for new units at Bruce in 2009.[4]



Pakistan, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748
Waste special


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The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has responsibility for radioactive waste management. A Radioactive Waste Management Fund is proposed in a new proposed policy. Waste Management Centers are proposed for Karachi and Chashma.(*01) The low and intermediate level waste (short-lived) will be conditioned for pre-disposal and stored on site. After a period of time, this waste will be transported to a low and intermediate level waste disposal facility for permanent disposal.

The spent fuel from the reactors is presently stored in spent fuel pools at the plant site. It is planned that at each plant site Dry Storage Facilities will be established. The spent fuel which has cooled for over 10 years will be removed from  the pool and placed in Dry Storage. It is expected that the Dry Storage Facility will be licensed for 50 years or more.

Although Pakistan is not reprocessing its spent fuel from nuclear power plants, it has not yet declared it as waste. With increasing uranium prices, it may be feasible in the future to use the spent fuel as a resource and it may be reprocessed (under IAEA safeguards) to obtain material to be used in the production of mixed fuel. Therefore, at present, the decision to put the spent fuel in a non-retrievable Deep Geological Repository is postponed.(*02)

Although there is no sizable civil society, there are examples of people opposing nuclear developments, especially when nuclear waste is involved. This is also admitted by Tariq Bin Tahir Director General Nuclear Power Waste, PAEC, at a presentation at the World Nuclear Association in 2007. Speaking about the need for a disposal facility for low and intermediate waste: “Whereas there is no significant opposition when it comes to selecting a site for a nuclear power plant, siting for a waste site attracts an immediate negative response from the public. (…) The site selection therefore has more to do with socio-political acceptance rather than best technical choice.” Nevertheless, a number of sites are under consideration and, he expects that the disposal facility will start receiving waste in 6 years.(*03) But not much progress is made, because in 2008 a timeframe was mentioned of 8-11 years for a near-surface LILW-facility.(*04)

Also in 2008, at the same presentation, a time frame was published for a geological disposal facility for high-level waste and spent fuel (28-35 years), although it was unclear of the first phase, area survey and site characterization, had already started.

It looks like not much is happening: in one of the latest reports available on the PAEC website(*05) it is only mentioned that work remained in progress in 2009 on “Draft National Policy on Control and Safe Management of Radioactive Waste”. The Draft Policy aims at “establishing a national commitment to control and manage radioactive waste generated in the country in accordance with national legislation/regulations and international standards.” The construction of a dry spent fuel storage facility is still 'planned'


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Baita Bihor repository started operation in 1985 and is a disposal facility for low en intermediate-level waste from industry, medicine and research activities. Disposal galleries are former uranium exploration galleries that have been enlarged. A new near-surface repository is under consideration at Saligny, inside the exclusion zone of the nuclear power plant. A feasibility study is prepared. The conceptual design is similar to those of L’Aube (France), El Cabril (Spain) repositories. (*01)

Used fuel is stored at the reactors for up to ten years. It is then transferred to the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility (DICA), a dry storage facility for spent fuel based on the Macstor system designed by AECL for about 50 years. The first module was commissioned in 2003. Regarding the spent fuel from research reactors policy is return to the country of origin and/or deep geological disposal in the national repository. No reprocessing takes place.

The research of the geological environment for a deep geological repository of spent fuel and high-level waste, which should be available around 2055 is at a very preliminary stage.(*02) In the 1990’s, studies identified as potential host rock the following geological formations: salt, volcanic tuff, granite, shield green slate – Moesian Platform, clay. One to several potential host rock were identified in each geological formation. Over the last years, several R&D studies on general aspects of studying host rocks for a geological repository and general reference design concepts were performed by different organizations within the national R&D supported programs. (*03)

Since Romania is a country with a small nuclear energy program the preliminary estimation of the costs for sitting and construction of a deep geological disposal for spent fuel and long lived waste in a national repository are extremely high. This is the reason for Romania to consider that deep geological disposal in an international repository "could be a better solution for avoidance of leaving unfair burden for future generations," according to a 2003 statement.(*04)

Russian Federation

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Russia will soon start storing spent fuel in a new centralized 'dry' interim storage facility (ISF) at Zheleznogorsk, near Krasnoyarsk. The first phase of the facility, for RBMK-fuel, was completed December 2011, and the first fuel was planned to in March 2012. Reprocessing has always been a major part of waste management. The Russian Federation (and its predecessor the Soviet Union) is the champion of sea dumping. It dumped low and intermediate level waste in Arctic Seas (1964-1991): liquid radioactive waste in Arctic Seas (1959-1991); objects with spent nuclear fuel in Arctic Seas (1965-1981); liquid (1966-1992) and solid (19680-1992) waste in the Pacific Ocean; liquid waste in Barents Sea and Far Eastern Seas (1992) and finally, liquid radioactive waste in Sea of Japan (1993).)(*01). The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom is responsible for waste management, but in March 2012, a National Operator for management of radioactive waste was established in accordance with the “Federal Law on the Radioactive Waste management” signed in summer 2011.(*02)

Interim storage and reprocessing
Russia needs to build a centralized long-term dry storage due to the limited capacity of existing storage pools. In 19 December 2011, the first phase of a centralized storage facility has been completed at the Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) at Zheleznogorsk. The initial stage of the facility will be used for storing 8129 metric tons of RBMK fuel from Leningrad (4 units), Kursk (5) and Smolensk (3 reactors). The used fuel from these plants is currently stored in on-site cooling pools, but these are reaching full-capacity, and spent fuel discharges are expected to exceed on site storage capacity. (*03)

The second stage of the facility, for VVER-fuel, is now beginning. Later, used VVER-1000 fuel from reactors at the Balakovo, Kalinin, Novovoronezh and Rostov plants will also be stored at the facility. VVER fuel has already been sent to Zheleznogorsk for storage in water pools. The ISF - measuring some 270 meters in length, 35 meters wide and 40 meters high - will ultimately hold 38,000 tons of used RBMK and VVER fuel.

The fuel will be stored in the facility for up to 50 years,(*04) during which time substantial reprocessing capacity should be brought online. Currently, Russia reprocesses about 16% of the used fuel produced each year, but Russia aims to reprocess 100% in the year 2020.(*05)

In the long-term, a geological repository for high-level radioactive waste is planned.

No waste repository is yet available, though site selection is proceeding in granite on the Kola Peninsula. In 2003 Krasnokamensk in the Chita region 7000 km east of Moscow was suggested as the site for a major spent fuel repository. (*06)

Since the early 1970s, Minatom (Ministry of Atomic Energy) has been studying various sites and geologic formations to determine their suitability for use in the construction of underground radioactive waste isolation facilities. According to the regional approach that has been developed in Russia with regard to the selection of geologic sites for permanent isolation, it is most expedient to have the burial sites near the waste sources. Purposeful research for the high-level waste geological isolation has been done in the two areas where the Mayak Production Association (Chelyabinsk Oblast) and the Mining-Chemical Complex are located. After the results of all research studies were analyzed, two sites nearby Mayak reprocessing plant were selected as top priorities.

A second Russian geological isolation site is the Nizhnekansk granitoid massif, one of the largest massifs in central Siberia, very close to the MCM. It is composed of various types of magmatic and metamorphic rock. Here, also two specific sites were selected. In 2005, however, because of a lack of financing, work on the study at the two Nizhnekansk sites was halted. (*07)

Then in 2008 the Nizhnekansky sites were on the table again as a site for a national deep geological repository. Rosatom said the terms of reference for the facility construction would be tabled by 2015 to start design activities and set up an underground rock laboratory. A decision on construction is due by 2025, and the facility itself is to be completed by 2035.(*08)

Although the import of foreign fuel for the purpose of final disposal is prohibited, much Russian-origin spent fuel is imported. In the 1990s contracts for fuel for reprocessing, has been signed with Ukraine, Bulgaria (both for spent fuel from nuclear power plants), Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic and Latvia (spent fuel form research reactors). The contracts envisage the return of the solidified radioactive waste resulting from the reprocessing. (*09) During Soviet times, spent fuel from VVER-440 reactors in Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia was shipped to Mayak for reprocessing. (*10)

The reprocessing waste from Russian-origin fuel can be left in Russia. Most of the Russian-origin fuel that Russia has repatriated has not been reprocessed in Russia's existing reprocessing plant, however, but is in long-term storage pending the construction of a larger reprocessing plant.(*11)

Slovak Republic

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The state regulation over nuclear safety for radioactive waste and spent fuel management is entrusted to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Slovak Republic (ÚJD SR) established on 1 January 1993.(*01)

Low and intermediate level waste is stored at a near-surface disposal facility in Mochovche. Selection of the site has been carried out between 1975-1979 out of 34 sites. Permission was granted in1999 and operation started in 2001.(*02)

Spent fuel was transported prior to 1987 to Soviet Union for storage and reprocessing: all spent fuel from Bohunice A-1  as well as VVER-440 fuel. Currently spent fuel is not reprocessed.

Waste management strategy is long-term interim storage (40-50) years at a facility at Bohunice, called MSVP, in pools. MSV is in operation since  1987.(*03)

Looking for international solution
Slovakia started its own program of development of deep geological disposal in 1996. Fifteen potentially suitable areas for further investigation were identified, later narrowed to three distinct areas: with five localities: three in granitoid rocks, two in sedimentary rocks environment.(*04)

The research program had been stopped in 2001,(*05) however, and a new strategy had been specified by the government in 2008: disposal in deep geological repository; international solution (export to Russian Federation, international repository); zero alternative, interim storage for a further not specified period of time (“wait and see“ approach).(*06)

The handling of spent fuel after interim storage has not been defined in the Slovak Republic. It can be assumed that this will hamper the determined search for a location for a repository and for the development of a repository concept. According the original plans, decision on selection of the host environment was expected after 2005, selection of a candidate site around 2010, and commissioning of a deep geological repository by 2037.(*07) This has now been postponed for an indefinite period of time.

There is no definition, whether the five locations shall be further explored in case of a decision for a Slovak repository. A time schedule for the further procedure is not stipulated as far as publicly known.(*08)


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The Agency for Radwaste Management is the state-owned public service for radioactive waste management. It is financed through the national budget and partially through the Fund for the Decommissioning of the Krško nuclear power plant. Operational low and intermediate-level wastes are stored on site of the Krsko nuclear power plant, as is used fuel. (*01

A permanent repository for low- and intermediate-level wastes is due to open in 2013 at Vrbina, near the Krsko plant. Site selection has been undertaken over five years, and compensation of 5 million euro per year will be paid to the local community. Vrbina is only for Slovenia's portion of the waste, although it could be doubled in case of an agreement between with Croatia or further use of nuclear power. It will also hold all of Slovenia's industrial and medical radioactive waste as well as the LLW and ILW from the 250 kW research reactor at the Josef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana.(*02)

The 2006 long-term strategy for spent fuel management foresees spent fuel storage in dry casks. Spent fuel will be moved to dry storage between 2024 and 2030 and will be stored until 2065, when a deep geological repository is assured. The operational phase of the spent fuel repository will end in 2070 and the repository should be closed in 2075. In the case of export option, the removal of spent fuel from dry storage is planned between 2066 and 2070. The option of multinational disposal is kept open.(*03)

A particular problem for waste management could be the fact that the reactor at Krško is operated jointly together with Croatia. Differing interests and responsibilities of the two countries may lead to problems when developing a Waste-Management Concept, or with respect to the financing of the Waste Management and to the determination of a location for the repository. The final disposal of the spent fuel is planned, however no efforts are visible regarding the realization.(*04)


*01- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in Pakistan, March 2012
*02- Director General Nuclear Power Waste, PAEC: Radioactive Waste Management Policy & Strategy of Pakistan, September 2007
*03- Tariq Bin Tahir, September 2007
*04- Bymanzur Hussain, Directorate General National Repository PAEC: Status of Radioactive Waste Disposal in Pakistan, April 2008
*05- Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA): Convention on Nuclear Safety, Report by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan for the Fifth Review Meeting, 2011, September 2010

*01- Nuclear Agency & Radioactive Waste (AN&DR):  Romania Nuclear Power Sector Reverse Trade Mission September 6 - 16, 2010 United States of America. Powerpoint presentation.
*02- European Commission: Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management in the European Union, Seventh Situation Report, 22 August 2011, p.58
*03- Nuclear Agency & Radioactive Waste (AN&DR), September 2010
*04- Romania: Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, First National Report, March 2005

Russian Federation
*01- IAEA: Inventory of radioactive waste disposals at sea, IAEA-Tecdoc-1105, August 1999
*02- RIA Novosti, National Operator for radioactive waste management has been appointed, 2 April 2012
*03- Nuclear Fuel: Russia on track to complete spent fuel facility by 2015, 6 February 2012, 5
*04- World Nuclear News: Russia commissions fuel storage facility, 30 January 2012
*05- Nuclear Fuel, 6 February 2012
*06- World Nuclear Association: Russia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle, March 2012
*07- Tatyana A. Gupalo: Creation of Underground Laboratories at the Mining-Chemical Complex and at Mayak to Study the Suitability of Sites for Underground Isolation of Radioactive Wastes, published in: An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility, The National Academies Press, 2005. p.240-247
*08- World Nuclear Association: Russia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle, March 2012
*09- Russian Federation: The National Report of the Russian Federation on Compliance with the obligations on the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2008, p.97-98
*10- International Panel on Fissile Materials: Managing nuclear spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, 2011, p.73
*11- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Managing nuclear spent fuel: Policy lessons from a 10-country study, 27 June 2011

Slovak Republic
*01- UJD: UJD SR established, company website
*02- OECD: Radioactive waste management programmes in OECD/NEA member countries: Slovak Republic, 2005, p. 5
*03- Slovak Republic: National Report of the Slovak Republic compiled in terms of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radwaste Management, August 2011
*04- Slovak Republic: Answers on questions on the National Report of the Slovak Republic, April 2009
*05- Wolfgang Neumann, Nuclear Waste Management in the EU, October 2010, p. 72
*06-  Slovak Republic, August 2011, p.95
*07- Slovak Republic, April 2009
*08- Wolfgang Neumann, October 2010

*01- Republic of Slovenia: Fourth Slovenian Report under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2011
*02- World Nuclear News: Permanent store for Slovenian waste, 15 January 2010
*03- Republic of Slovenia:, October 2011, p.14
*04- Wolfgang Neumann: Nuclear Waste Management in the EU, October 2010, p 75

Mochove: further delays and Bank Austria withdraws

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Yann Louvel

Bank Austria, the Austrian subsidiary of the Italian UniCredit banking group, has confirmed that by mutual agreement it will terminate a financial facility granted to Slovenske Elektrarne (SE). SE will be the operator of the Mochovce nuclear reactors 3 & 4, currently under construction.

The confirmation of the Bank Austria withdrawal came after enquiries by Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) and Greenpeace Austria."Slovenske Elektrarne has boasted in public presentations that the credit provided by private banks for its ongoing operations were in fact indirectly used to build the scrap nuclear reactors at Mochovce," said Patricia Lorenz, nuclear campaigner for Global 2000. "This is in direct contradiction with assurances made by Bank Austria earlier on the use of their credit."

In a related development Mochovce NPP operator ENEL/SE also announced early March that the two nuclear units 3 and 4 will be completed one year later than previously planned. The construction of block 3 will now be completed by the end of 2013, and unit 4 not before the middle of 2014.

"We have warned the management of Bank Austria against this risky business for months and are pleased that our negotiations have now led to some results with the bank. The completion of Mochovce 3 and 4 is again pushed a bit further away," said Niklas Schinerl, nuclear expert for Greenpeace Austria.

The reactors planned for Mochovce 3 & 4 are Soviet-type VVER 440 2nd generation reactors, which are designed without a full containment building and cannot be upgraded. As such there is a higher probability of severe accidents and the release of radioactivity.

The building of Slovakia's Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear reactors is the longest running nuclear construction project anywhere in Europe. The reactors were designed by the Soviet Union back in the 1970s. Construction began back in 1987 but in 1992, soon after the collapse of the communist regime, it was suspended. Economic studies in 2000 showed the project to be a financial disaster.

Although operating since the mid 1980s in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, four of the same model of reactor as Mochovce 3 and 4 under construction in East Germany, were cancelled in 1990 after the German re-unification because the reactors did not meet basic safety standards.

Russia is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for this type of reactor which makes a mockery of the idea that nuclear power provides energy security. An estimated 22 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel is generated by each reactor every year.

The investment required to build Mochovce 3 and 4 is expected to reach 2.775 billion euros. This will devour a massive 77% of SE's investment for new electricity generation 2007 to 2013. Due to the high financial risks for investors, the Slovak government provides generous state aid that is very likely illegal under EU legislation.

"The credit freeze and construction delay are new hurdles for SE and signal a victory in the fight against the building of these reactors" said Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for BankTrack. "As all banks financing SE know, money is fungible. They should do the same as Bank Austria and close down their credit lines with Slovenske Elektrarne to prevent the completion of Mochovce 3 and 4". BankTrack is the global network of civil society organisations targeting the operations and investments of large, international operating  commercial banks.

Source: BankTrack, Press release 15 March 2012
Contact: Yann Louvel at BankTrack,Vismarkt 15, 6511 VJ, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: +33 (0) 688 907 868
Email: yann[at]

Global 2000Mochovce-3Mochovce-4