Formation of the institutional RAW management system in the USSR

Towards the end of the 1950s, along with the formation of the Eastern Urals Radioactive Track, the process of RAW accumulation began in the

350 Radioactive waste management and contaminated site clean-up Table 10.2 Characteristics of radiation exposure on the Techa river and EURT

Fundamental

characteristics

Techa river

EURT

Summary discharge, Ci

3 x 106

2 x 107

Type of pollution

Aqueous

Air

Isotopic composition

90Sr, ssSr — 20.4%, 137Cs

90Sr+90Y — 5.4%,

— 12.2%, S5Zr+S5Nb

95Zr+95Nb — 24.9%,

— 13.6%, 106Ru+106Rh

144Ce+144Pr-66.0%,

— 25.9%, REE — 26.9%

137Cs — 1.0%

Contamination area

The Techa and the Iset

23,000 km2 (density

rivers(width to 4 km)

0.1 Ci/km2)

Maximum density of

10,000 Ci/km2 (by 137Cs)

3,000 Ci/km2 (by 90Sr)

contamination

Maximum exposure dose

3.5-5 Rh/h

1-3 Rh/h

rate

Taken out of land tenure

80 km2

1,000 km2

Number of people

12,400 people (Techa

272,000 people

exposed to radiation

and Iset rivers)

Displaced population

about 8,000 people

More than 12,000 people

territories where scientific and research institutes were located, mainly in the large cities in the central part of the USSR. Furthermore, the develop­ment of the nuclear industry helped to solve a wide range of medical and technological problems with the help of radioactive materials. Two new systems were almost simultaneously implemented by government resolution.

The first of these systems was ‘Isotope’, an All Union association estab­lished in 1958 with the aim of revolutionizing isotopic production, radiation techniques, and medical and general purpose equipment.

Isotope had the following functions:

• delivery of isotopic products for external and domestic markets;

• addressing radiation safety problems during handling of ionizing sources

(IS);

• supplying medical and scientific establishments with the required iso­topic products;

• development of radioisotopic technologies.

The establishment of this organization helped to solve many of the prob­lems associated with the introduction of new nuclear technologies and their influence on the national economy.

At the same time, a centralized system for the collection and disposal of RAW and spent ionizing sources (SIS) was created, with 35 different

organizations involved (16 from the Russian Federation, 5 from Ukraine, and 1 from each member republic of the USSR). For example, in February 1960 the Council of Ministers of the USSR created an organization called ‘Radon’ in Moscow, which was designed to act as a central facility for RAW processing and disposal serving organizations in Moscow itself, the Moscow region and 10 adjacent regions. It began practical operation at the start of 1961, when the special vehicles column made its first journey to the Kurchatov Institute.

The introduction of these new specialized facilities for RAW and SIS collection and disposal stabilized the accumulations of RAW in scientific and production establishments across the USSR, as RAW removal began to be effectively and routinely carried out. For example, industrial, medical and research establishments in the central regions of the USSR sent the following quantities for further disposal:

• up to 2,500 m3 of solid radioactive waste (SRAW) with an activity up to

1015 Bq,

• up to 300 m3 of liquid radioactive waste (LRAW) with an activity up to

1011 Bq,

• up to 20,000 units of SIS with an activity up to 1016 Bq.

The sources were predominantly composed of 60Co (more than 90% of the overall activity) and 137Cs (up to 6%). Over almost 50 years, more than 100,000 m3 of RAW was removed from the Moscow area. These specialized enterprises also improved radiation control systems, developed monolithic matrix technologies as a product of RAW processing, and drew up new models and algorithms for safe RAW processing.

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