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Russian specialists call for creating global spent nuclear fuel infrastructure

March 12, 2012, 21:11 UTC+3

Russian-Japanese working groups are trying to evaluate technical solutions aimed at dealing with the consequences of the accident

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MOSCOW, March 12 (Itar-Tass) —— Countries that use atomic energy need global infrastructure for recycling spent nuclear fuel, especially after the Fukushima-1 accident in Japan a year ago, an expert said.

“One of the conclusions made after Fukushina is that it is necessary to return to global recycling of spent nuclear fuel and think about building common infrastructure for handling spent nuclear fuel. If the spent nuclear fuel storage at Fukushima-1 had not been affected, the environmental damage from the accident would be have been lesser,” Pyotr Shchderovitsky, a member of the Expert Council of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, said.

He also believes that scenarios of such accidents should not be limited to a nuclear power plant only. “We must consider a broader context as it is obvious that the accident occurred not because of improper operation of the nuclear power plant but because of a natural cataclysm. Now we must take into account such situation when assessing risks and in safety evaluation methodologies,” he said.

He called for looking at such facilities “solely in terms of life cycle”. “Safety requirements that are good when a plant is ten years old are no longer good when it is 40 years old. This is why at each life cycle of such a sophisticated facility we must change the regulatory framework and requirements to the work of the personnel, assessment of certain technical solutions that are used for upgrading and extending service life,” Shchedrovitsky said.

He noted that professionals are already discussing these issues and “a number of important decisions will be adopted on the basis of the official report on the causes of the accident at Fukushima”.

Russian-Japanese working groups are trying to evaluate technical solutions aimed at dealing with the consequences of the accident. “When the agreement on the peaceful use of atomic energy between Japan and Russia is ratified, we will be able to broaden our cooperation with Japanese colleagues,” he said.

Energy Strategy Institute Deputy Director-General for Science Alexei Gromov believes that “stricter requirements for construction and operation of nuclear power plants will reduce the profitability of such projects in the short term, but spurs innovation development of the industry, on the other hand.”

“Nuclear generation was and remains one of the key components of energy security amidst geopolitical instability in the Middle East and growing risks of disrupted hydrocarbon supplies and new oil and gas price hikes,” Gromov said.

As an example, he named Iran, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Algeria, Venezuela, and Poland.

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