On July 8, 2020 the Commission for Environment of the ROSATOM’s Public Council and Environmental and Legal Center Bellona presented on-line a joint report.
The issues of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUH) management in Russia have been under focused attention of the public since November 2019. During several months, public environmental organizations, scientists and specialists carried out the joint work to consider in detail all safety aspects. The result of this joint work is the report “Depleted uranium hexafluoride (current situation, issues of safe management and prospects)”.
It is important to note that this report was written by a team of authors who represented independent public associations and scientists. Independent experts confirmed and close the chapter on DUH saying that it is a resource rather than radioactive waste that follows the IAEA concept. Importation of DUH to Russia for re-enrichment does not violate the law of the Russian Federation. Safety requirement in DUH transportation, reloading, enrichment, storage and processing are rigorously observed that is confirmed by the public control measures.
The report was discussed by more than 70 persons: representatives of public organizations, experts and representatives of science, members of the Working Group for DUH Safe Management and experts of the ROSATOM’s Public Council, representative of mass media, ROSATOM’s organizations and bloggers.
Aleksandr Nikitin, Head of the Environmental and Legal Center Bellona and the coordinator of work on the report, noted answering one of the questions during discussion: “It’s easy to copy jump scares than to make it out. Preparing this report, we task ourselves to reduce the problem related to the lack of knowledge in handling DUH the concerned public has. It is exactly the concerned public, because other public does not pay and will not pay attention to the DUH problem. But we cannot force people to focus on the topic and acquire knowledge if they don’t want or cannot do it due to some reason. That is why we did what we should do: we have prepared an information product which will help the people concerned to understand what is DUH. Then, each can make out if he/she wish”.
Alexei Ekidin, a representative of the scientists in the public group and leading researcher of the Institute of Industrial Ecology of the Urals Branch of RAS warned: “You can’t eat DUH with a spoon. The same way as electricity, car or sunlight; DUH is potentially dangerous. Yet, you don’t get in the transformer vault with a spoon. Professionals should do each business. Other aspect is the ensuring of the public control. Every time when issues or anxiety of the population arises, it is necessary not only to spell out, as they say, but to ensure that a concerned human, using instruments and, that is important, knowledge, can control that jointly with scientists and specialists”.
Oleg Muratov, a member of the ROSATOM’s Public Council, Responsible Secretary of North West Branch of the Nuclear Society of Russia, said that “as stock reduces, DUH will become the largest secondary uranium source and foreign enrichment facilities will possibly undertake its re-enrichment. Also, it is necessary to note that Russia has 40% of world enrichment capacities and most efficient enrichment technologies”.
Members of the ROSATOM’s Public Council and scientists supported conclusions of the report and noted the huge work done by the authors. It was noted that this work would increase the level of trust to arguments of nuclear specialists as regards issues of nuclear material management and close the information gaps and eliminate the lack of knowledge of the public in the sphere of nuclear power.