News | January 7, 1999

Ukraine May Reconsider Nuclear-waste Options

The Ukraine's Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko on January 6 ordered cabinet officials to check the feasibility of establishing a nuclear-waste-storage facility near Chernobyl-site of the atomic power plant meltdown in 1986.

Pustovoitenko's order reflects a changing attitude among Ukrainian officials. There is growing consensus that, if Russia raises its tariffs for nuclear waste reprocessing, it would be less costly for the Ukraine to keep the waste in domestic storage using, for example, special containers costing U.S.$30-$40 per kilogram, according to an Associated Press communiqué.

Containers designed by the U.S. companies Duc Engineering and Services and Sierra Nuclear are under construction at Ukraine's Zaporizhia nuclear-power plant, according to the independent Ukrainian News service. Were their commitment fulfilled, the Ukraine would have some 380 containers, each capable of holding more than 9000 fuel rods. The country produces 600 to 700 waste-fuel rods a year.

Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov met on January 5 in Siberia with Russian Governor Alexander Lebed to cajole a reversal of Lebed's ordering a local plant not to accept the latest shipment of nuclear waste. Lebed said the Ukraine is paying too little.

The nuclear-waste shipment, now stranded in the Ukraine, had been headed to the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Plant, formerly called Krasnoyarsk-26. The plant stores spent nuclear fuel from all Russian power stations and four Ukrainian plants.

(See the earlier story, "Russian Official Fears Loss of Nuke-waste Storage," posted to this site on January 6.)