Ukraine: Dry storage cheaper than reprocessing in Russia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1998) Ukraine is considering to use casks for long-term storage of all its spent fuel. Early next year spent fuel from the six Zaporozhia nuclear plants is to be loaded into a storage cask, with the help of Duke Engineering-Sierra Nuclear. Recently, 40 tons of Ukrainian spent fuel from Zaporozhia were refused by the Krasnoyarsk governor.

(503.4964) WISE Amsterdam -The Ukrainian deputy minister of Finance, V.G. Kotko, said that initial cost estimates show that dry storage in casks would be "five to six times cheaper" than sending the spent fuel to Russia (for reprocessing). No decisions have been made yet. The lack of hard currency is only one of the problems. It could take years before US storage equipment receive Ukrainian certification. Russia will not be glad with these developments: it affects their reprocessing portfolio for their RT-1 plant at Mayak, which only works at less than half of its capacity.
The Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy finally decided this November not to complete the nearly-finished reprocessing plant at Krasnoyarsk. This plant should have reprocessed spent fuel from VVER-1000 reactors, like the ones at Zaporozhia. Minatom First Deputy Minister Ivanov said: "There is absolutely zero money" for Krasnoyarsk. Since the early 1990s spent VVER-1000 fuel from Ukraine and Russia has been sent to Krasnoyarsk for interim storage pending completion of the reprocessing plant. In the future, spent VVER-1000 fuel is to be reprocessed at Mayak, using the new molten salt method, which is under development. This will take 10-15 years at least.

Recently, 40 of tons of Ukrainian spent fuel from Zaporozhia were refused by the Krasnoyarsk governor, General Lebed, Itar-Tass and AFP reported. Lebed ordered the Krasnoyarsk reprocessing plant not to accept the spent fuel. The reason: the price for handling the waste was too low: only US$275/kg, against closer to US$1000/kg elsewhere, said Kulenkova, deputy to Governor Lebed. The agreement on nuclear waste storage was made between Russia and Ukraine without consultation with the region. Payments also were often too late. Officials from Zaporozhia said the latest spent fuel had left Ukraine two weeks ago. Every year six transports with each between 20-50 tons spent fuel arrive at the uncompleted Krasnoyarsk reprocessing plant. The next transport is planned to arrive in February 1999, according to Volodir Varankine, an official at the plant.


  • Nucleonics Week, 12 November 1998
  • Nuclear Fuel, 2 November 1998
  • Agence France Presse (AFP), 17 November 1998

Contact: Vladimir Sliviak
WISE Kaliningrad