Russian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Unveiled in Detail

Publish date: August 21, 2002

Written by: Irina Rudaya

A book by Vladimir Kuznetsov “The Main Problems and Current Condition of Safety at Nuclear Fuel Enterprises” was published in Russia in July 2002. The Russian version of the book is available on Bellona Web.

The subject of the book is estimation and analysis of nuclear industry condition, facilities for reprocessing and storing of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and perspectives to import foreign SNF for storage and reprocessing to the Russian Federation. Besides, the aim of the book is to present independent estimation of the nuclear safety condition at the nuclear enterprises, situated in the Russian Federation.

The book describes in great detail facilities at Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk (Tomsk-7), Krasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Combine in Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26), Electro-chemical Plant (Krasnoyarsk-45), Mayak reprocessing plant (Ozersk, Chelyabinsk-65), Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant, Electro-Chemical Plant in Ural (Sverdlovsk-44, Novouralsk), Cherepetsky Mechanical Plant (Glazov). It also gives a review of plutonium decommission in Russia, regulation of nuclear materials management, physical security of nuclear enterprises in Russia, questions of nuclear legislation, health condition of personnel working at the nuclear enterprises.

The book reveals the weaknesses in providing nuclear safety at the nuclear enterprises; helps to analyse previous mistakes made during usage of nuclear installations and management of SNF; recommends improvement of normative base to ensure safety in nuclear industry.

According to the President of the Academy for Engineer Sciences, Academician and Nobelist, Aleksandr Prokhorov, “It is the first attempt, undertaken in Russia, to systemise and generalise information about accidents at nuclear enterprises.”

The book prompts the following conclusions:

  • the nuclear enterprises in Russia are not ready to accept 20,000 tonnes of foreign SNF for storing and reprocessing and are in appalling condition in terms of safety;

  • the importation of foreign SNF will postpone implementation of the programmes on management of the domestic SNF from nuclear reactors both civilian and military;

  • transportation of SNF by trains may cause more accidents for the reason that the railway routes go through areas with run-down tracks;

  • in the case of import of SNF to Russia the chances of terror acts will rise along with increase of nuclear materials shipments rate;

  • import of SNF to Russia is extremely dangerous from the point of non-proliferation;
  • technical and economic substantiation of the necessity to import foreign SNF to Russia is missing;

  • discharges from the nuclear enterprises became the biggest source of radioactive contamination of the territory in the Russian Federation. In the past and at present the violations in handling the radioactive waste lead to huge discharges into the environment.

    The author also concludes that the scope of environmental issues is far more challenging then admitted by officials. And calls on all the nuclear club courtiers to unite efforts to overcome the consequences of the thoughtless polices of the past, and prevent development of such polices for the future.