CDI Russia Weekly

CDI Russia Weekly #126 - November 3, 2000

Russia aims to profit from spent nuclear fuel

St. Petersburg, 31st October: Russia could reap at least 20bn dollars in the next ten years if it signs and fulfils contracts for importing spent nuclear fuel from abroad, First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Valentin Ivanov has said.

For the purposes of concluding and implementing such contracts, amendments should be made to Article 50 of the Russian environmental protection laws, Ivanov said at the 3rd international conference on "Radioactive security: The transportation of radioactive materials" in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

If the law is amended, spent nuclear fuel will be transported to the "wet" storage facility at the Zheleznogorsk mining chemical plant in Krasnoyarsk Territory, Ivanov said. In one to one and a half years, up to 9,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel could be accumulated at this facility. At the moment, the storage facilities are only capable of accommodating 6,000 tonnes.

The Atomic Energy Ministry intends to spend the first revenues from the taking of spent nuclear fuel on constructing "dry" storage facilities capable of accommodating 34,000 tonnes, Ivanov said, a project estimated as costing 2.4bn dollars.

Spent nuclear fuel is a raw material source for power engineering of the future, Ivanov said. "We are now accumulating raw materials that will be converted into fuel for future reactors after regeneration," he said.

It is estimated that 200,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel have accumulated around the world, including 14,000 tonnes of Russian fuel, he said. The market for such fuel is characterized by tough competition; however, marketing studies the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy have conducted in Europe give grounds for hoping for large contracts, Ivanov said.