Comment concerning risk and environmental assessments conducted in past AMEC projects

Publish date: January 25, 2006

By Dr. Thor Engøy (FFI), Dr. Steinar Høibråten (FFI), Dr. Monica Endregard (FFI), Dr. Barry Spargo (NAVFAC), Dr. Robert Dyer (EPA), CAPT Andrew Griffith (DOD)

In an article posted on the Bellona web site, "UK sticks to its guns in AMEC quarrel," 20 January 2006 there are statements that could be interpreted to mean that previous AMEC projects have not applied risk and environmental impact assessments or competitive procurement. This is not correct.

From the start of the early AMEC projects care was taken to make use of proven technology and best international practice in the Arctic environment. Experts with intimate knowledge of the spent nuclear fuel handling and radioactive waste management practices of their respective countries were employed, e.g. in the development of a transportable storage cask for spent nuclear fuel (SNF), development of solid radioactive waste (SRW) treatment technology, development of SRW storage technology, and development of an automated environmental monitoring system.

Furthermore, proposed technical solutions were designed in detail and approved by the governing Russian authorities before being fabricated. An important part of the design is the safety substantiation (TOB) and environmental impact assessment (OVOS). These Russian documents were independently reviewed by the AMEC countries’ experts. For example, during the development and review of the transshipment pad for SNF casks in Murmansk, Russian, U.S. and Norwegian experts evaluated all accident scenarios, including worst case scenarios as required by the Russian legislation, and a public hearing was conducted evaluating and discussing safety and risk. Independent AMEC safety analyses were also performed to strengthen the confidence in the Russian Federation regulatory process, that has evolved since the end of the Cold War. Examples of AMEC safety analyses conducted that supplemented the Russian Federation regulatory requirements include AMEC SNF cask Certificate of Compliance and the evaluation of concrete durability for application in a concrete SRW storage and transportation container.

Project and program risk analysis was integral to the planning and execution of AMEC projects. Project plans were continually assessed as information on project risks became better known and understood. Through the Records of Meetings, documenting the decisions and recommendations of each project meeting, AMEC shows a long history of project risk evaluation and management. AMEC has faced many barriers, but has been successful in completing difficult projects because of its ability to analyze project safety and technical risks.

Competitive procurement was used in all cases where legal and feasible, e.g. for the development and construction of the TUK-108/1 SNF transport and storage cask, design and construction of the steel PST 1A-6 containers for storage and transport of SRW, design and construction of the mobile pretreatment facility for SRW and the construction of the waste management complex at FSUE “10 SRP” (Polyarny).