A new radioactive waste repository will be built in Poland

składowisko odpadów promieniotwórczych

A new repository for low- and intermediate-level short-lived radioactive waste (NSPOP) will be built in Poland, according to announcements by the Ministry of Climate and Environment. A call for municipalities interested in participating in the process of selecting a site for a new landfill has now been issued.

Radioactive waste storage facility

Currently, Poland has had a National Radioactive Waste Landfill (KSOP) for 62 years, which is located in Różan on the Narew River at a distance of approx. 90 kilometers from Warsaw and covers an area of more than 3 hectares. The radioactive waste dump in Różan is located in one of the former military forts built by the Russian government in 1905-1908. Groundwater there is under a layer of clay with very low permeability and a layer of soil with sorptive properties at a depth of several meters below the landfill.

According to the classification of the International Atomic Energy Agency , the Różan facility is a type of surface repository designed for the final disposal of short-lived low- and intermediate-level waste (with a half-life of the isotopes they contain of less than 30 years) and sealed radioactive sources. It is also used for periodic storage of long-lived waste, mainly alpha-radioactive, awaiting placement in a deep geological repository. The radioactive waste repository in Różan is the only facility of its kind in our country. Due to the depleting storage capacity of this type of substance at the current site and the anticipated development of nuclear power, which will significantly increase the amount of radioactive waste generated in Poland, a new repository is needed.

Radioactive waste

Radioactive waste is solid, liquid or gaseous material that contains or is contaminated with radioactive substances and whose use is not anticipated or contemplated, including spent nuclear fuel that remains highly radioactive and poses a serious threat. Due to their special nature, they require special procedures.

The main sources of radioactive waste generation in Poland:

  • Maria reactor (National Nuclear Research Center) – for the production of radioactive sources;
  • Otwock nuclear complex;
  • Hospitals, clinics and other institutions that use isotope techniques;
  • nuclear medicine;
  • Industry: isotope smoke detectors, industrial gammography.

As of December 31, 2022. The volume of radioactive waste accumulated at KSOP is 4175m3, and its activity is approx. 45 TBq.

New radioactive waste repository

The new repository will be a surface facility designed exclusively for the storage of low- and intermediate-level short-lived radioactive waste and radioactive sources, which will come from nuclear power, industry, medicine and scientific and research activities in Poland. The repository will not accept high-level waste or spent nuclear fuel, which require the construction of an underground facility with completely different characteristics and in a different location.

Supervision and control of the radioactive waste repository in terms of nuclear safety and radiological protection is carried out by the State Atomic Agency (PAA). It is an independent institution of nuclear supervision in Poland. The total area of the new landfill, as planned, is expected to be 105.1 hectares, including: storage zone 26 hectares, technological zone 5.25 hectares, buffer zone with construction facilities 26.9 hectares + 2.15 hectares, surrounding zone 44.8 hectares.

Radioactive waste repository – benefits for the municipality

According to the Atomic Law, the fee for the municipality where the National Radioactive Waste Repository is located is 400 percent. tax revenue from property located in the municipality, obtained in the previous year, but no more than PLN 10.5 million per year. In addition, the construction and operation of the landfill are expected to provide new jobs in the municipality in the future. Also those related to the creation of the technical infrastructure necessary for its operation and associated investments (such as road construction or repair).

Schedule of investments

The selection of the best location for the construction of a new radioactive waste repository will take place after obtaining approval from the local community and conducting geological and geophysical surveys. These studies will assess whether the selected sites are suitable for the investment, according to the precise criteria formulated in the Atomic Law. According to the schedule, the final decision on the location of the investment is to be made in 2027, and a year later construction work will begin. The new nuclear waste repository is expected to begin operations in 2033.

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