More than 35 years ago, the world’s largest nuclear accident occurred at the Chornobyl NPP in Ukraine. Overcoming its consequences and transforming the Exclusion Zone into a useful territory for society are a modern challenge of our times. Various types and categories of radioactive waste evaluated in hundreds of thousands cubic meters had been generated by the Chornobyl disaster and stored in the Exclusion Zone at radioactive waste disposal sites, sites of temporary localization of radioactive waste, at the Shelter facility and outside the Exclusion Zone.
In order to minimize environmental hazards associated with radioactively contaminated areas resulted from the Chornobyl accident, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Ministers Council, by their decision №724/163, July 1, 1987, adopted a resolution to establish a production complex designed for the collection, decontamination, transportation, processing and disposal of RAW from areas contaminated by the Chornobyl NPP accident (a code name is “Vector”).
Since Ukraine became independent, approaches to ensuring safety of radioactive waste management have been revised due to recommendations of IAEA and other international organizations that have accumulated experience of countries with significant practical experience and developed infrastructure for safe radioactive waste management. New approaches became fixed in the Ukrainian legislation.
On September 29, 1997, Ukraine signed the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and became one of the first countries that ratified it by the Law of Ukraine on April 20, 2000.
In accordance with the mentioned convention, Ukraine has its Strategy on RAW Management (hereinafter – the Strategy), adopted in 2009 and designed for 50 years. According to the Strategy, RAW generated during the use of nuclear energy must be transported to the Exclusion Zone at the production complex “Vector” for further long-term storage or disposal.
SSE “CEMRW” is a legal successor of enterprises engaged in overcoming consequences after the Chornobyl disaster occurred. During this period, RAW storage facilities were urgently established on the territory of the Exclusion Zone – RAW disposal sites such as “Buriakivka”, “Pidlisnyi” and “ChNPP Third Stage”.
A huge part of RAW was placed in the trenches and burrows created in the immediate vicinity of the RAW detection sites, which were grouped into sites of temporary localization of RAW (STL RAW). The enterprise ensures the safe operation of these storages in accordance with the issued licenses and permits.
State Specialized Enterprise “Centralized Enterprise for Management of Radioactive Waste” was established by the Order of the Minister of Emergencies of Ukraine №1086 “On Reforming State-Owned Enterprises of the Exclusion Zone” on December 09, 2010. The enterprise is an operating organization that carries out its activities related to site selection, design, construction, operation, closure of RAW storage facilities and ensuring nuclear and radiation safety, physical protection of RAW disposal facilities at all stages of their life cycle. In accordance with the Order of the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM) №37 “On Renaming”, April 04, 2014, the State Specialized Enterprise “Centralized Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management” was renamed into
State Specialized Enterprise “Central Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management” (SSE “CEMRW”).
SSE “CEMRW” is subordinated to the State Agency of Ukraine on the Exclusion Zone Management which activities are directed and coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine through the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources. By the Order of SAUEZM №151, November 6, 2017, SSE “CEMRW” is appointed as the operating organization (the operator) at all stages of the life cycle of RAW disposal sites, such as “Buriakivka”, “Pidlisnyi”, “ChNPP Third Stage”, and sites of temporary localization of RAW. The key task of SSE “CEMRW” is creation and operation of the production complex for decontamination, transportation, processing and disposal of radioactive waste (the code name is “Vector”), namely:
- operation of first-priority facilities, including a specially equipped near-floor storage of solid radioactive waste (SENFSSRAW) where solid and cemented liquid RAW from the Chornobyl NPP are located;
- construction and operation of second-priority storage facilities that provide not only disposal, but also long-term storage and processing of spent ionizing sources, controlled storage of long-lived low- and intermediate level RAW and vitrified high-level RAW which have been returning from Russia after their processing.