Problematic cases and lessons learned

Problems of RAW management in Eastern Europe vary from country to country. The management of RAW systems in both the Czech and Slovak Republics from operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities was influenced by the Soviet design concept of waste management of WWER reactors, which allowed for the fact that virtually all RAW will be stored until decommissioning of the NPP. A great disadvantage of this design was also the fact that various sources of wastewater were mixed and therefore recycling of separate wastewater is complicated and difficult. The consequence of this design is that usually much higher amounts of waste have to be disposed of at the low — and intermediate- level waste disposal facilities such as at Dukovany or Mochovce, unlike in Western reactor designs. Both in the Czech and Slovak Republics, however, special programmes focusing on reduction of generated waste have been launched.

In the Czech and Slovak Republics the main conditioning technology for operational liquid waste from NPPs selected by the end of the 1980s was bituminisation. This technology is associated with many problems such as maintaining a suitable pH of wastewater concentrates or flammability of bitumen, necessitating conducting fire hazard tests prior to waste condition­ing. Another problem in both countries is finding suitable sites for deep geological repositories. In the Czech Republic, the process started by selec­tion of sites only according to geological criteria. It turned out, however, that socio-economic aspects are equally as important as geological criteria for selecting suitable sites. The biggest problem for finding suitable sites is the rejection of these sites by local communities and non-governmental organisations.

In the Czech Republic problems with remediation of sites after uranium mining and milling remain. It may be that the sites will be cleaned up so that they will not significantly endanger people and the environment, but only after spending large amounts of money and it is unlikely that most of these sites will be open for free, unrestricted use in future. They will have to remain under some institutional control, probably indefinitely. They will require constant monitoring and periodic assessment, and, if required, maintenance.

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