Title: Decontamination & decommissioning - Clearing Yugoslavia's nuclear past
Citation: NUCLEAR ENGINEERING INTERNATIONAL vol. October 2009 no. 10 p. 30-33
Publication Year: 2009
JRC N°: JRC54938
ISSN: 0029-5507
URI: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?storyCode=2054753
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The 6.5MW heavy water moderated and cooled research reactor "RA" located at the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences near Belgrade in Serbia, was in operation from 1959 until 1984. In 2002, the Serbian government decided to decommission the RA reactor and its ancillary facilities, and set up for that purpose the Vinca Institute Nuclear Decommissioning (VIND) programme /1/. According to the decommissioning plan for the RA reactor, the first activity was the removal of fresh and spent reactor fuel. The fresh fuel, containing 48 kg of highly enriched uranium in about 5000 fuel elements, was repatriated to the Russian Federation in 2002 as a result of a joint project between the Serbian government, the USA, the Russian Federation and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) /2/. The removal of about 2500 kg of spent fuel is currently ongoing and comprises a number of coherent actions starting from the removal of spent fuel from spent fuel storage facility and reactor core, the packaging into proper shielding and transport containers and the final repatriation to the Russian Federation. The second action within the VIND programme is the decommissioning of the RA reactor. Besides the development of the decommissioning plan and the full radiological characterisation of the facility, several experimental facilities and supporting equipment have been dismantled and processed as radioactive waste during the preparatory phase for spent fuel removal. Further decommissioning steps will include the decontamination of the empty spent fuel pool, the dismantling of the remaining reactor supporting systems, internals and core shielding with the subsequent decontamination and eventual dismantling of the reactor tank. The final decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia on the decommissioning or future use of the reactor concrete vessel and the reactor building has not been done yet. The third principal action that is being implemented within VIND programme is establishing and equipping appropriate and modern facilities for processing the historical waste from former Yugoslavian nuclear programme that has been improperly stored at the site in unsafe conditions. The facility will be used for retrieving waste from old waste storage facilities and for processing of all kinds of radioactive waste, generated in decommissioning activities. As a part of this action, a new surface storage facility (storage building) for processed waste and disused sealed sources has been recently completed next to the waste processing facility and is expected to be ready in 2010 to accept the waste packages. In parallel, a radiation protection infrastructure is being set up and equipped to ensure the safety of all decommissioning and waste handling operations. As a result of the recent promulgation of a new Law on Ionizing Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety in Serbia in May 2009, two new organizations, playing a key-role in the implementation of the VIND programme, have been established: the Agency for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety of Serbia (ARPNSS) and the Public Company "Nuclear Facilities in Serbia" (PC NFS). The latter will take the responsibility for management of entire VIND project and for the implementation of the Serbian part of all decommissioning activities at the Vinca site. It should be also underlined that without external aid from several countries (USA, UK) and international organisations (Nuclear Threat Initiative, IAEA and the European Commission), the VIND programme would have faced important problems of funding.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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