Furthermore, we must not forget that the importation of irradiated fuel rods from foreign boiling-water reactors (BWR) and pressurized water reactors (PWR) is currently problematic, as the shipping containers and other equipment at Mayak and the Mining-Chemical Complex are not appropriate for use with foreign transport casks holding fuel rods from these reactors, and the Russian casks are not certified for use abroad and could not be used to ship these sorts of fuel rods. Minatom is holding a competition for the development of a standardized transport cask for irradiated fuel rods from VVER-440, VVER-1000, high-power channel reactors (RBMK-1000), BWR, and PWR. Seven cask designs differing in form and type of materials used have been entered in the competition.
International relations involved in the management of spent fuel rods are regulated at the level of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management as well as by intergovernmental agreements. Given the intent of the Russian Federation to expand the range of goods and services it offers on the world market, high priority should be given to implementing the provisions of this Joint Convention in Russia.
Nuclear and radiation security in the management of spent fuel rods can be achieved only through the observance of existing laws, norms, and rules regarding the use of nuclear energy. However, it must be noted that law and regulatory requirements in the Russian Federation do not fully cover the entire sphere of spent fuel rod management.
An analysis of potential accidents in normal and extreme conditions (including acts of terrorism) during the shipment of irradiated fuel rods shows that localized radiation contamination of the environment is possible. A breach in the packaging unit during an accident could lead to localized radioactive contamination up to a dose level of 20 R/hour. The fact that accidents could occur gives rise to the legal problem of who bears responsibility for the nuclear damages, a problem that could become a serious impediment to the successful activities of Russian organizations in the world market for spent fuel management services.
In 1995 the Russian Federation signed the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. The draft of the Federal Law on Civil Legal Responsibility for the Causing of Nuclear Damage and Provision of Financial Compensation has been under review by the State Duma since 1997. The lack of legal regulation on this matter is undoubtedly having a negative effect on insurance activities in this field.