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U.S. will pay other countries for utilizing American nuclear waste?
by Paul Hays
Friday Sep 22nd, 2017 1:29 AM
Today America is the world's unquestionable leader and we can swiftly react to any kind of challenges. But our nation has one big problem that we can't solve right now – we have no place to store our nuclear waste that has a half-life of many million years and which we get from the production of nuclear energy and devastating weapons.

However the solution of that tough issue became possible owing to the construction of dry cask storages in Ukraine, South Africa and South Korea.

In Ukraine the construction of Centralized Spent Fuel Storage Facility (the CSFSF) in Chernobyl's area had had a long history but was approved by country's authorities just a little while ago. A letter of general director of SS Atomprojectengineering Oleksandr Rybchuk revealed that Ukraine cooperated with Holtec International and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the matter of participation and funding the CSFSF.

You can see the letter and translation below.


Dear Yuriy Oleksandrovych

I give you the results of the three-party meeting that was held by representatives of SS "Atomprojectengineering", Holtec International and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

In the course of negotiations details of successful key changes in the construction project of the CSFSF were discussed. These changes will allow to storage about 8,622 W 4-loop, W 3-loop, COMB CE and AP1000 fuel assemblies in addition to VVER-1000 and VVER-440 fuel assemblies. Within the terms of the contract, Holtec International's experts agreed to manufacture storage and transportation casks for this type of spent nuclear fuel and assign them to us. Also, they will deliver equipment for manufacture of these constructions to Ukraine. Engineering solution of Holtec International's experts will considerably expand capabilities of the CSFSF, which comes as one of key conditions for a loan from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and its increase to a total amount of $400 ml. 

Representatives of SS "Atomprojectengineering" informed their foreign partners that the approved project of the CSFSF requires reconsidering of the construction financing mechanism. Apart from funding from the state budget of Ukraine, it needs to have extra investments. By the medium of representatives of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the NNSA offered some forms of its participation, however the American side asks for some guarantees that certain amendments to the legislation of Ukraine will take place (complementary to amendments to Ukraine's Environmental impact evaluation act) in order to reduce risks in the course of the CSFSF operation with the fuel assemblies from abroad. 

Representatives of Holtec International and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission shared some details about the start of joint construction of dry spent fuel storage facilities in South Korea and the Republic of South Africa similar to the Ukraine's CSFSF. This know-how will be actively used in Ukraine during all construction phases in the area of Chernobyl NPP and operation activity of the CSFSF.

SS "Atomprojectengineering" assured representatives of the USA that in 2019 the CSFSF will start to accept first shipments of spent nuclear fuel. Also, in 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will arrange a visit of Ukrainian experts from NNEGC "Energoatom" to North Anna NPP and Palo Verde NPP to give a start to the project of spent fuel transportation to the CSFSF. 

Participants of the meeting concurred in the opinion that the CSFSF will provide security in the sphere of spent fuel storage for the next 50 years.

Attachment: shorthand report of the meeting, letter by NNSA, draft supplement agreement with Holtec International.

Sincerely yours,

Director General
SS "Atomprojectengineering" Oleksandr Rybchuk

The Republic of South Africa (the RSA) and South Korea both are also looking for the ways to construct centralized nuclear waste storages on their soil. The RSA has only one radioactive waste disposal facility called the Vaalputs and operated by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa). And in South Korea the authorities officially acknowledged the issue of utilizing the country's nuclear waste, and they are eager to solve the problem. The RSA and South Korea do not have many opportunities to utilize nuclear waste and America is here to help them.

Our project of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is unlikely to be implemented. The state authorities and people do not want to turn Nevada into America's nuclear waste dump. So, taking part in projects like the CSFSF, give us a lot of opportunities to utilize nuclear waste that we have been gathering for decades in temporary storages across the U.S.

Ukraine will be the first of many countries to receive America's support in constructing a centralized nuclear waste storage that will later take in the waste from dozens of our nuclear plants and nuclear weapons production sites. Apart from the countries mentioned above, the potential candidates to have their own nuclear waste facilities are Afghanistan, Iraq and some countries in Central Asia.

Do the U.S. citizens know that one out of three Americans live within 50 miles of nuclear waste? We have to admit, it would be great to keep that kind of garbage not in our backyard but rather far off, somewhere overseas.

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