To Build Nuclear Waste Repository or Use the Slovenian One?

Total Croatia News

Joint nuclear waste repository offered by Slovenia’s would be too expensive, and there are environmental concerns.

After pipes contaminated by radioactive substances were recently returned to Croatia from Italian border, an issue of permanent repository for low and intermediate level radioactive waste has been reopened. The issue has not been solved for years. Smaller amounts of such waste generated in Croatia are stored in institutions in which there are produced, for example, in hospitals. Although they do not have their repositories, waste is keep according to standards, which are monitored by the State Institute for Radiological and Nuclear Safety, reports Večernji List on March 29, 2017.

Director of the Institute Saša Medaković says there is no reason for concern, but adds that the problem of low and intermediate level radioactive waste must be systematically addressed. A solution has been provided by law adopted in 2013, on the basis of which a public consultation process on the National Programme for Implementing the Strategy of Nuclear Safety has been organized, with the planned construction of a nuclear waste repository at the Trgovska Gora.

However, the proposal provoked strong resistance among residents of Dvor na Uni and local politicians, and also in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina. Still, Medaković points out that this is the only location which is being discussed and that any change would delay the whole process for many years. Croatia is already late with the construction of the repository. “The process takes years, and the national programme has already been prepared. We expect that it will be adopted relatively quickly, in the next few months”, says Medaković.

After the plan is accepted, Croatia will prepare spatial planning documents, solve land and property issues, and prepare a new environmental impact study, this time related to the specific location at Trgovska Gora. If everything goes according to plan, the repository could be built within a few years.

In addition to the waste produced in the country, Croatia has to take care of half of the low and medium radioactive waste from the Krško nuclear power plant, which is in joint Slovenian-Croatian ownership. Slovenians have offered the possibility of constructing a joint facility at Vrbina, downstream from Krško towards Zagreb. However, Croatian experts assess that the offer is unfavourable for several reasons.

The biggest problem is that the proposal includes only the storage of waste produced in Slovenia and does not address the issue of low and intermediate level radioactive waste that is produced in Croatia, which means that Croatia would still have to build its own facility as well. Another problem is the location of the proposed site near the Sava river, on the floodplain of the aquifer which provides water to Zagreb.

“We have immediately rejected similar sites in Croatia”, says Medaković, adding that Croatia will join the public consultation process on the repository and demand from Slovenia to demonstrate that it would not have a detrimental effect on Croatia.

The proposed solution is unacceptable for Croatia due to the price as well. The project will cost nearly 600 million euros, of which more than two-thirds will be paid in taxes and fees to the local community.

Medaković points out that Croatia plans to construct a repository after the nuclear power is decommissioned in 2043, when it will be know precisely what quantities of nuclear waste will need to be dealt with. He adds that the construction of the repository is envisioned in the report on radiological and nuclear safety which was adopted by the previous government led by Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković. “The process of systematic solving of problems was started four years ago and we expect to finish it, with stable funding and political support, within ten years”, says Medaković.

The question is, however, whether he can count on having political support, given that local communities do not want to have a radioactive waste repository in their area, and almost every year is an election year in Croatia.


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