Based on a bilateral agreement between U.S. President Clinton and Ukrainian President Kuchma in May 1995, Ukraine established the Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology in 1996.
Establishment of the Center is a milestone in Ukraine's effort to build in-country expertise in safe nuclear power plant operations. Before Ukraine's independence in 1991, mostly Russian personnel were responsible for designing, operating and maintaining Ukraine's nuclear power plants.
The Center's technical branch is the Slavutych Laboratory for International Research and Technology. Slavutych, a city of 33,000 people, is about 65 kilometers (40 miles) east of Chornobyl. Its economy has been almost totally dependent on Chornobyl plant operations. By helping to provide an alternative economic base, the Center will ease the social and economic impact of the plant's expected closure and help to retain urgently needed nuclear expertise in Ukraine.
Chornobyl Center for Nuclear Safety, Radioactive Waste and Radioecology.
Specialists at the Chornobyl Center are working with international organizations on joint projects in nuclear safety. The Center was established with the following objectives:
- Provide a means to address environmental and health issues for areas affected by the Chornobyl accident.
- Help to mitigate the socioeconomic impacts associated with the closure of the Chornobyl plant.
- Develop sustainable operational safety programs that support Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
- Help develop and maintain in-country expertise in the nuclear sciences.
- Address the shutdown and deactivation, spent fuel, and waste management issues at Chornobyl and elsewhere in Ukraine.
International collaboration with Center specialists on nuclear safety will accelerate Ukraine's use of internationally accepted nuclear safety practices. Meanwhile, research at Chornobyl will advance international experts' understanding of environmental management, enabling them to create improved technologies for use in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.
In July 1997, the Center held its first annual conference. More than 100 representatives of Ukrainian and international organizations discussed international support for safety work at Chornobyl. The Center held its second conference in October 1998.
Joint Technical Projects
U.S. and Ukrainian specialists completed three joint technical projects in nuclear safety in 1997: 1) a risk analysis of hazards posed by the Unit 4 shelter to the operating Unit 3 reactor, 2) an assessment of computer modeling needs for work at the shelter, and 3) an assessment of robotics technology needs.
More projects are under way. U.S. and Ukrainian specialists are reviewing the status of spent nuclear fuel at Ukrainian nuclear power plants and evaluating options for spent fuel management. When complete, this will be the Chornobyl Center's first major technology contribution to the Ukrainian nuclear industry. Other projects include nuclear data acquisition and evaluation, the establishment of a nuclear reference library, and planning and analysis work for the shutdown and deactivation of the Chornobyl plant.
Nuclear Data Facility
The United States worked with the Chornobyl Center and Ukraine's Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv in 1997 to establish a nuclear data facility in Slavutych. The United States has provided computers, software, and reactor analysis codes for performing nuclear data calculations.
The user facility is accessible to Ukrainian nuclear organizations and other research institutes. With support from the United States, Canada, and Sweden, the Science and Technology Center of Ukraine is providing funding to specialists from the Institute for Nuclear Research to set up and use the facility in Slavutych and to train Chornobyl Center staff for its ongoing operation. Users of the facility will have access to international nuclear databases (e.g., IAEA).
The United States has worked with Ukraine to develop the Chornobyl Center's infrastructure. U.S. and Ukrainian technicians installed a satellite-based communications system at the Center's Slavutych facilities in 1996. Through that link, the Center has gained reliable telephone and data access to the rest of the world, along with videoconferencing capability.
In November 1997, the Center's staff moved into a newly renovated building that includes computer stations, offices, classrooms, and conference rooms. The United States supplied office equipment and computer hardware and software.
The United States provides day-to-day management support to the Chornobyl Center. A two-week session in 1997 provided training on the fundamentals of management, including the development of a mission, vision, and organizational values; strategic planning; contracting; financial management; human resources; and property and facilities management. The participants and U.S. specialists identified short- and long-term needs for staff training.
U.S. experts are working with Chornobyl Center managers to develop systems for managing contract research and technical services for Ukrainian and international customers. Additional management training activities are planned.
The U.S. Department of Energy sponsored a technology commercialization workshop in Washington, D.C., in November 1998. Ukrainian institutes interested in commercial applications of their technologies will attend. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory staff will address the barriers to commercializing technology in Ukraine.
Collaboration with France and Germany
France and Germany have committed funds to support nuclear safety work in Ukraine. French and German specialists are working with Center personnel to compile a database on the safety status of the Chornobyl shelter. The team also will study the ecological effects of the accident and its health effects on cleanup workers and the general public. Experts from Russia and Belarus will participate in the studies. A joint venture (called RISKAUDIT) of France's Institute de Protection et de Surete Nucleaire and Germany's Gesellschaft fur Anlangen und Reacktorsicherheit mbH is undertaking the work.
Slavutych Laboratory officials signed a contract with the French firm, SGN, to provide staff, training, and information services to the On-Site Technical Assistance Decommissioning Project at Chornobyl.
Collaboration with Great Britain
In October 1997, Great Britain signed a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine to support further development of the Center and to conduct joint technical projects. Discussions are under way to establish a scientific project agenda and communications program. The British Department of Trade and Industry coordinates work with the Center.
Collaboration with Italy
Italy has expressed interest in supporting joint technical projects in emergency procedures, radioecology, medical consequences of the 1986 accident, and radioactive waste management. Italy's National Agency for New Technology, Energy, and Environment would coordinate work with the Center.
Dr. Valery N. Glygalo, who was appointed by the president of Ukraine, directs the Chornobyl Center. Mr. Anatoly V. Nosovsky, Dr. Glygalo's deputy, is director of the Slavutych Laboratory. A council, composed of representatives from several Ukrainian agencies, provides guidance.