27 May 2019 In an essay article in Sweden’s biggest newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Anna Storm, Achim Klüppelberg and Tatiana Kasperski outline how the nuclear future logics today and in the past differ considerably between Sweden, Germany, Russia and Finland. In connection to nuclear power currently being discussed in Sweden as a critical tool to mitigate climate change, the rhetorical question goes: “Is nuclear power environmentally friendly only in Sweden?” The article concludes that the negotiations on what our nuclear future should look like has to be re-politicized in an international context, and also take into account the legacies of radioactive waste which we will leave to future generations. Link to the article (in Swedish).
23 May, 2019 150 kilometers north of Stockholm you find not only the Forsmark nuclear power plant with three reactors, but also the site where a final repository for high-level radioactive waste in Sweden is suggested to be built, along with an already existing final repository for short-lived radioactive waste (SFR). To learn more, primarily about the existing repository, and in the company of Mr Igor Lozhnikov from the Leningrad nuclear power plant in Russia, the Atomic Heritage research team visited SFR’s facilities, which are located in the bedrock under the Baltic Sea.
Photo courtesy of Erica A Wallin, SFR.
21-23 May, 2019 What is the message we are to communicate to future generations about our radioactive waste storage? “Keep out?” “Do not dig?” And how is it to be communicated over such time horizons as 100,000 years? To discuss these questions, a group of representatives from nuclear waste management companies, radiation safety authorities, environmental organisations and universities gathered for three days in Stockholm. The workshop was titled “Information and memory for future decision making – radioactive waste and beyond” and co-hosted by Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste (Kärnavfallsrådet), Linnaeus University and National Archives of Sweden (Riksarkivet). Anna Storm was part of the wider organizing committee and Tatiana Kasperski, Andrei Stsiapanau and Florence Fröhlig also participated in the workshop.
12-20 May, 2019 Tatiana Kasperski and Andrei Stsiapanau visited Saint Petersburg and Sosnovyj Bor where they met with nuclear officials, NGO representatives and scientists from the Institute of Earth Sciences to discuss the preparation for the decommissioning of the first unit of the Leningrad nuclear power plant and related waste management problems. This is the first time when a RBMK (also known as channel-graphite or a Chernobyl-type) reactor will be decommissioned in Russia. Ten more such reactors are currently operated in the country, including units 2, 3 and 4 of the Leningrad nuclear power plant. The Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom announced it chose an “immediate dismantling” strategy for the unit that means the dismantling process is projected to start soon after the shutdown, but will still last several decades. Apart from safe disposal of the spent nuclear fuel that is unlikely to be reprocessed, the biggest and yet unsolved issue for the decommissioning of this type of reactor is how to dispose safely of the irradiated graphite. But these issues related to decommissioning are not only technical, but also social, political, economical. Many of these aspects so far have not been addressed and there is an important lack of public involvement in the matter.
The atom is highly visible in the atomic city of Sosnovyj Bor, Russia.
From Murmansk, Egle Rindzeviciute travelled to Moscow, where she visited three important museums that belong to the National Research Centre “Kurchatov Institute”. Kurchatov Institute is the central institution of the Soviet Russian nuclear programme. It is unique in that it kept the first pile reactor, F-1, operational until very recently. The pile reactor is now part of a museum: it has remained as it is, with fuel rods loaded in it. An interesting exhibition on the international development of nuclear physics and the design of nuclear reactors has been added to the building. In addition to F-1, Kurchatov Institute boasts a wonderfully preserved memorial house-museum of Igor Kurchatov. The house, designed in the Italianate style, is surrounded by woods and is taken care of by the director, Dr Raisa Kuznetsova. Finally, the institute has its own archive and an interesting museum that narrates the development of the institute itself and nuclear physics research in Russia.
Egle Rindzeviciute’s fieldwork concluded with a visit to the ROSATOM’s Central Research Institute of Chemical Technology (VNIIKhT), which is home to what is often described as the world’s largest collection of uranium ore.