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Under this action item, the absence of the following could legitimately be characterized as a critical issue which requires that strategic (i.e., corrective) decisions be made immediately:

  • Technology needed to ensure the safety of the operating personnel during whatever activities they are performing;

  • Reliable data on the amount, type, and condition of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in storage at such sites;

  • Conceptual solutions for the management of the spent nuclear fuel (including defective spent nuclear fuel) in storage at such sites;

  • A final decision committing to the management of reactor fuel from Alpha-class nuclear-powered submarines;

  • The category of “very-low-activity solid radioactive wastes” in Russian legal, regulatory, and technical documents;

  • Clearly formulated and well-justified assessment criteria for describing the conditions of the buildings and compounds of coastal bases upon completion of rehabilitation activities;

  • Functional requirements and criteria for acceptance of radioactive wastes for final disposal;

  • A modern, high-capacity center for processing, conditioning, and storing solid radioactive waste;

  • An approved concept and decisions committed to selecting a type and location and conducting the requisite research and development and design activities for a regional disposal facility for final burial of low- and medium-activity radioactive wastes and for a storage facility for storage of high-activity waste; and

  • Physical protection that meets the present-day requirements.

Action Item: Ensuring external safety when performing multifaceted disposition activities with hazardous radioactive items and conducting environmental rehabilitation of hazardous radioactive sites

Problems of ensuring external safety are of systemic significance and have a bearing on all activities, sites, items, and tasks. It is abundantly clear that the reliable provision of a comprehensively safe setting is a prerequisite for undertaking any activities with items presenting a radiation hazard. Safety issues constitute the first order of priority and, as such, must be resolved as early as at the initial stage of engaging in large-scale disposition and environmental rehabilitation activities.

Among the most pressing tasks here are

  • Safe working conditions for the operating personnel involved in the disposition and environmental rehabilitation of hazardous radioactive items and sites;

  • The physical protection of valuable and radioactive materials; and

  • Radiation monitoring of the environment.

In the course of resolving the most important task—Task 6, which called for the creation of a methodology for priority-level justification and a rank-order listing of sites, items, pressing tasks, and priority activities—all the requisite data were collected through a combination of calculations, analyses, and expert assessments with the broad-based engagement of specialists from the scientific community and production and operations entities.

Implementation of specific projects selected on the basis of the listing of the most topical activities featured in the document will be conducive to the elimination of disposition-driven actual and potential sources of environmental hazard.

The results of the first phase of project work that has been completed ensure that the SMP—a living guideline for management of the investment in the nuclear disposition field—will be successfully completed during the second phase.

At all stages of its development, the SMP was being compiled in close collaboration with Russian agencies dealing with disposition issues. The list includes, first of all, the MINATOM (later on named Rosatom), complemented by EBRD experts and the International Expert Committee. Therefore, this document can justifiably be viewed as a product of international cooperation in science and technology; the sheer fact that it has been developed speaks to the effectiveness of the partnership between the Russian Federation and the international community in this critically important area.

The SMP was consecutively approved by the NDEP Nuclear Executive Committee (on November 5, 2004) and by the Assembly of Donor Nations (in December 2004). In addition, on December 1, 2004, the SMP came into force under the Rosatom Administrator’s Order No. 257. All of this secures the document a respectable legal status and gives hope for a qualitative improvement in cooperation among countries seeking to overcome the grim legacy of the Cold War.

The useful experience gained from the systemic approach to resolving such a huge problem as the disposition of nuclear naval vessels and the rehabilitation of radiologically hazardous sites in the Northwest region of the Russian Federation may also be applied in the course of international cooperation on many other problems.

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