END POINTS for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States

Committee on End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States

Board on Radioactive Waste Management

Division on Earth and Life Studies and

Office for Central Europe and Eurasia

Development Security, and Cooperation

Policy and Global Affairs

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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END POINTS for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States Committee on End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States Board on Radioactive Waste Management Division on Earth and Life Studies and Office for Central Europe and Eurasia Development Security, and Cooperation Policy and Global Affairs NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this study was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy under cooperative agreement number DE-FG28–97NV12056. All opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Energy. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08724-4 Additional copies of this report are available from: The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Lockbox 285 Washington, DC 20055 800–624–6242 202–334–3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu COVER: Depicted are high-level radioactive waste at the bottom of an underground tank (upper left), an artist’s rendition of a high-level waste repository (upper right), a nuclear fuel assembly being lowered into the core of a power reactor (lower left), and a spent fuel dry-storage facility (lower right). The first appears courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy; the last two are courtesy of the Nuclear Energy Institute. Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A.Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and of advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A.Wulf are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON END POINTS FOR SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL AND HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE IN RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES JOHN F.AHEARNE, Co-Chair, Sigma Xi and Duke University, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina NIKOLAI P.LAVEROV, Co-Chair, Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Moscow RODNEY C.EWING, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor B.JOHN GARRICK, Garrick Consulting, Laguna Beach, California DARLEANE C.HOFFMAN, University of California, Berkeley GEORGE M.HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville NIKOLAY N.MELNIKOV, Mining Institute of the Kola Science Center, RAS, Apatity, Murmansk, Russia BORIS F.MYASOEDOV, V.I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Moscow, Russia ALEXANDER A.PEK, Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry, RAS, Moscow, Russia MIKHAIL I.SOLONIN,* Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials, Moscow Staff MICAH D.LOWENTHAL, Study Director KEVIN D.CROWLEY, Director, Board on Radioactive Waste Management GLENN E.SCHWEITZER, Director, Office for Central Europe and Eurasia DARLA J.THOMPSON, Research Assistant CHELSEA A.SHARBER, Program Associate LATRICIA C.BAILEY, Senior Project Assistant ANGELA R.TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant *   Professor Solonin was appointed First Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation and resigned from the committee.

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BOARD ON RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT JOHN F.AHEARNE, Chair, Sigma Xi and Duke University, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina CHARLES MCCOMBIE, Vice Chair, Consultant, Gipf-Oberfrick, Switzerland ROBERT M.BERNERO, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (retired), Gaithersburg, Maryland GREGORY R.CHOPPIN, Florida State University, Tallahassee RODNEY C.EWING, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor HOWARD C.KUNREUTHER, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia NIKOLAI P.LAVEROV, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow MILTON LEVENSON, Bechtel International (retired), Menlo Park, California JANE C.S.LONG, Mackay School of Mines, University of Nevada, Reno ALEXANDER MACLACHLAN, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (retired), Wilmington, Delaware NORINE E.NOONAN, College of Charleston, South Carolina EUGENE A.ROSA, Washington State University, Pullman ATSUYUKI SUZUKI, University of Tokyo, Japan VICTORIA J.TSCHINKEL, The Nature Conservancy, Altamonte Springs, Florida Staff KEVIN D.CROWLEY, Director MICAH D.LOWENTHAL, Staff Officer BARBARA PASTINA, Senior Staff Officer JOHN R.WILEY, Senior Staff Officer TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative Associate DARLA J.THOMPSON, Research Assistant LATRICIA C.BAILEY, Senior Project Assistant LAURA D.LLANOS, Senior Project Assistant ANGELA R.TAYLOR, Senior Project Assistant JAMES YATES, JR., Office Assistant

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Preface Highly radioactive wastes in the United States and Russia are by-products of three interrelated programs that were born and grew rapidly during and after World War II: development and production of nuclear weapons, development and production of nuclear power, and the nuclear research that supported these activities. The character and diversity of the wastes produced within these programs pose difficult challenges to scientists, engineers, social scientists, and politicians who seek lasting and reliable strategies for managing these wastes. Efforts now are being made by the Russian and the United States governments to identify appropriate interim and final “end points” for high-level wastes, either through interim storage in surface or near-surface facilities or through permanent disposal in deep geologic repositories. Disposal of high-level waste is a federal responsibility in both countries. The actual approaches to management of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste in Russia and the United States are similar, although there is a philosophical difference in the desired approaches. Therefore, the programs share enough challenges and goals that there are many opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other. Further, the details of the current approaches should not be taken as fixed. Managerial decisions could and should be periodically revisited, taking into consideration technological progress and changes in the perception and understanding of the problem. This report, the first on this topic prepared as a joint effort of Russian and American experts, describes quantities and locations of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste in Russia and in the United States, as well as plans for managing and disposing of these wastes, and provides a technical assessment of interim and final end points being considered. The committee focused this study more on assessing technical factors rather than on evaluating government policy. Funds, schedules, and other constraints did not permit the committee to do a comprehensive review, to visit many sites, or to analyze the risks and costs associated with various possible decisions. The committee instead relied on the expertise of its individual members, each of whom is familiar with some of the relevant sites, facilities, and problems. Committee staff provided background information on inventories and sites in the United States. The committee also commissioned papers, writ-

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ten by scientists and engineers at institutes and facilities in Russia, covering topic areas, such as radiochemical separations and fuel fabrication, and inventories and practices at the Russian sites. Russia’s Pacific Fleet and the Siberian Chemical Combine at Tomsk, however, were not covered in any detail. The technical background papers, which have been placed in the National Academies public access file (available via its Public Access Records Office, http://www4.nationalacademies.org/onpi/paro.nsf/), provided much of the data and background text found in the committee’s report. They do not, however, represent a consensus of the committee. Analyses, conclusions, and recommendations in the technical background papers are those of the listed authors, whereas the committee’s conclusions and recommendations can be found in the body of this, the committee’s report. The committee’s report builds on work done in previous studies by the U.S. National Research Council (NRC),1 described in reports entitled Proliferation Concerns: Assessing U.S. Efforts to Help Contain Nuclear and Other Dangerous Materials and Technologies in the Former Soviet Union (1997), Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia (1999a), Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges (2001 a), and other reports by the NRC (see http://www.nas.edu/brwm/reports.html). A few comprehensive English-language descriptions of radioactive waste and the nuclear fuel cycle in the Former Soviet Union are currently available (see, for example, Bradley [1997]). This new study utilized the information contained in the commissioned papers, which can be seen as a continuation of the compilations begun by Bradley and others. Some issues associated with management of radioactive waste have changed very little in recent decades: for example, essentially the same storage technologies are available, although some are becoming more widespread. Other issues are undergoing rapid change and events that have occurred during the course of this study illustrate that point. The Russian Federation has passed laws allowing for importation of spent nuclear fuel from other nations. The United States has decided to pursue a license application for a deep-geologic repository at Yucca Mountain for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. And the terrorist acts in the United States on September 11, 2001, along with proclamations by terrorist organizations that they intend to acquire and make use of nuclear materials for terrorist acts, 1   The National Research Council is the chief operating arm of the National Academies in the United States.

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underscore the need for countries possessing such materials to undertake appropriate efforts to prevent their intentional misuse (see, e.g., NRC [2002]). Russia and the United States have the largest inventories of these materials and have both been targeted by terrorists. Analyzing the end points in management of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is a step in reducing vulnerabilities to, and mitigating the consequences of, such acts. The hazards from spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste will endure over time spans far longer than the recorded history of either Russia or the United States. Over the same period of recorded history, distances that once were nearly insurmountable now are readily traversed in less than a day. This underscores the increasing connectedness of our world. Dealing with wastes and environmental hazards responsibly is increasingly an international or global responsibility. Russia and the United States are responsible for generating the largest amounts of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. It is correct and fitting that they act together in trying to define the problems and to propose plans of action to address the problems. In this, the seventh decade of the nuclear age, the Russian and U.S. governments are making important efforts in formulating and implementing technically robust and societally responsible visions for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, waste management. These efforts, if successful, can serve as guides to promote the safe, secure, and environmentally sound management of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste worldwide. Achieving technically sound and politically sustainable progress, however, will require the continued cooperation among the international scientific, engineering, and policy-making communities, especially to promote technical information exchange and to develop and disseminate best practices. It is in this spirit, then, that the committee presents this report to the Russian and U.S. governments in the hope that it will help promote continued cooperation that will benefit both countries and the world community at large. John F.Ahearne and Nikolai P.Laverov Co-chairmen, Committee on End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in Russia and the United States

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Acknowledgments This study was undertaken with the cooperation of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Russian Academy of Sciences is the Russian Federation’s premier scholarly scientific institution. The Academy’s main responsibilities are pursuit of fundamental research into natural and social sciences, and promotion of the practical application of science. Established by Peter the Great and a Senate decree in 1724, the Academy is a self-governing organization constituted in part by a network of research institutes and laboratories, and serves as the chief scientific and technological adviser for the government. Academician Yury Osipov is president of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Many people within and outside of the academies in Russia and the United States helped make this study possible. The Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation and the U.S. Department of Energy provided information, presentations, and access to facilities. Dr. Yuri K.Shiyan of the Russian Academy of Sciences helped in many ways, at times serving as interpreter and as coordinator of the meeting in Moscow, and generally assisting the co-chairmen throughout the study. Ms. Angela Taylor and Ms. Chelsea Sharber of the National Academies coordinated the meeting in Washington and all of the committee travel, and Ms. Latricia Bailey readied the English manuscript for publication. Professor Vassily I.Velichkin, Professor Alexander A.Pek (as committee member, translator, and more) of IGEM in the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Micah Lowenthal of the National Academies helped to develop this report, and BRWM staff director Dr. Kevin Crowley and OCEE staff director Mr. Glenn Schweitzer guided the project from its initiation to its completion.

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List of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Leonid A.Bolshov, Institute of Nuclear Safety, Russian Academy of Sciences Don J.Bradley, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Thomas B.Cochran, Natural Resources Defense Council Sergey A.Dmitriev, “Radon” Scientific & Industrial Association Jaak Daemen, University of Nevada, Reno Charles Fairhurst, Itasca Consulting Group, Incorporated Leslie J.Jardine, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Milton Levenson, Bechtel International, Inc. (retired) Jane C.S.Long, Mackay School of Mines Ernest J.Moniz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Frank L.Parker, Vanderbilt University Ashot A.Sarkisov, Institute of Nuclear Safety, Russian Academy of Sciences Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Harold K.Forsen, foreign secretary of the National Academy of Engineering. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Contents     Summary,   1 1   Introduction,   13     1.1 Definition of Terms,   14     1.2 Background and Overview of the Challenges,   20     1.3 Nuclear Fuel Cycles,   25 2   Spent Nuclear Fuel and End Points,   31     2.1 Spent Nuclear Fuel in the Russian Federation,   31     2.2 Spent Nuclear Fuel in the United States,   38     2.3 Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium,   48     2.4 End Points,   50     2.5 Fuel-Cycle Steps and End Points for Spent Nuclear Fuel,   52 3   High-Level Radioactive Waste,   65     3.1 High-Level Radioactive Waste in the Russian Federation,   65     3.2 High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States,   75     3.3 End Points for High-Level Radioactive Waste That Is Not Spent Nuclear Fuel,   80 4   Conclusions and Recommendations,   88     4.1 Problems that Require Immediate Attention and Prompt Action,   92     4.2 Longer-Term Research, Development, and Implementation,   96     4.3 Areas for Collaboration,   102     References,   108     Appendixes     A   Statement of Task,   117 B   Acronyms and Abbreviations,   119 C   Committee Member Biographies,   121 D   Presentations and Site Visits,   125 E   Laws Governing Radioactive Waste of the United States and Russia,   128

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