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Management of Spent Sealed Radioactive Sources in Central and Eastern Europe - Interim Report

Management of Spent Sealed Radioactive Sources in Central and Eastern Europe - Interim Report



Sealed radioactive sources (SRS) have been widely used for many decades in industry, medicine and research. Although many countries have laid down a regulatory framework to control SRS, there are still a number of uncertainties concerning the management of historical 226Ra sources and the possibility of retrieving non-registered sources. Both of these uncertainties may represent high radiological risks to the population. In addition, management schemes and practices implemented in different countries can be somewhat conflicting and create problems for storage and disposal.

This study has been performed to consider the situation relating to the regulation and management of spent sealed radioactive sources (SSRS) in five of the Central and Eastern European (C&EE) countries that are being considered for admission to the EU, namely, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia. Two previous studies have considered the situation in the current EU member states and in the
Czech/> Republic/>, Estonia/>, Hungary/>, Poland/> and

The general aim of this study has been to acquire a thorough understanding of the management of SSRS in the five countries, in order to recommend improvements in management schemes and to establish whether the application of common disposal criteria would be advantageous.

It has been important to understand the full life-cycle of SRS, from manufacture through to disposal, and this was achieved by creating a questionnaire in the form of a discussion guide. This was sent to an expert body in each country that had the responsibility of identifying appropriate organisations involved in the manufacture, supply, use and disposal of SRS and providing relevant information on the management of SSRS in their country. Following completion of the questionnaire, the information supplied was reviewed. Visits were then made to the five countries to carry out interviews with a range of organisations, including source manufacturers, users, regulators and waste management organisations in order to extend the understanding of SSRS management in the country. A great deal of co-operation was given by all of the organisations that were interviewed.

A project interim report (ref SSRS2/P01) was submitted to the EC in September 2001. This report included the information that was received from the questionnaires. The information used in each of the country chapters for this Final Report for the project was sent to the subcontractor for checking prior to the preparation of this document.

A common concern in the five countries and many other countries, including the EU member states, is the problem of accidental inclusion of SSRS in consignments of scrap metal. The detection of radioactive material at the entrance to metal scrap facilities and at national borders has received, and is continuing to receive, considerable attention.

Bulgaria/>/> has one central storage facility at Novi Han that can accommodate SSRS. The operational licence was suspended in 1994, since when major improvements have taken place. Currently, SSRS are temporarily stored at the users' premises or at Novi Han in above ground storage. In the long-term SSRS are expected to be disposed of at a new national facility for which a site selection programme is currently underway. The regulations provide a controlled system of reporting and authorisation of all practices involving SRS. The regulator holds accurate records of all SRS and it is possible to track movements of sources through the life-cycle.

In Latvia SSRS were disposed of at the Radon facility at Baldone from the 1960s to the early 1990s. Since then, disposal is no longer permitted and SSRS are now from the receipt facility to a new interim storage vault. Future actions regarding SSRS already disposed of and those in storage will depend on the outcome of an environmental impact assessment to determine whether any remedial action is necessary. The regulations provide a controlled system of reporting and authorisation of all practices involving SRS. The regulator operates a database of users and SRS held and the waste management organisation keeps a comprehensive database of SSRS in storage and those previously disposed of.

Between 1963 and 1988 SSRS were disposed of in
Lithuania/>/> at the Maisiagala near- surface repository. Today, there is no radioactive waste disposal facility in
Lithuania/>/> and SSRS are interim stored at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP). Consideration is currently being given to whether any remedial action needs to take place at the Maisiagala facility. The regulator runs a database that allows the tracking of all SRS. A recently formed Radioactive Waste Management Agency will take national responsibility for the management of SSRS.

Romania/>/> is the only country in this study that manufactures SRS. There is one national radioactive waste disposal facility that can accept SSRS. In addition, there are two interim storage facilities for SSRS. The current regulations that cover storage and disposal of radioactive waste are not specific and are being developed to include waste categorisation, facility licensing and SSRS disposal. The regulator holds a database that includes SRS and the existing information is currently being transferred to a new database.

At present, there is no disposal route for SSRS in
Slovakia/>/>. There are plans to make the handling and temporary storage facilities at Bohunice NPP available for SSRS in 2002. There are also plans to extend the license for the waste repository at Mochovce to accommodate SSRS for disposal. At present, users are encouraged to return SSRS to the manufacturer, but if this is not possible then they are temporarily stored at the users' premises. One of the 2 major regulatory bodies is responsible for establishing a central register of institutional radioactive waste, including SSRS.

None of the five countries considered in this report have any plans to develop regional disposal facilities and no specific common disposal criteria have been developed. All the countries are, however, proceeding with their waste management plans, taking account (to varying degrees) of 'high level' international standards and practices relating to acceptable dose uptakes, environmental impact, etc. Such a situation is similar to that relating to the EU member states and the other C&EE countries that have been studied, who have also not developed specific prescriptive disposal criteria for universal application across all states.

In summary, generally the management and regulation of SSRS in Bulgaria/>, Latvia/>, Lithuania/>, Romania/> and
Slovakia/>/> is performed well and in a similar manner to a number of current EU member states. Many of the proposed improvements for waste management have been suggested to the states and implementation of these will serve to further improve the situation and provide a long-term safe environment for the management of SSRS

General Information

Management of Spent Sealed Radioactive Sources in Central and Eastern Europe - Interim Report
Budget year: 
Types of activities: 
Waste Management
Installation types: 
Radioactive Waste
Duration (months): 
RRCKI ( Russian Research Centre Kurchatov Institute)
Old reference: 
Effective contract date: 
Closure date: