The decommissioning of old reactors is a complex and long-term process. It requires an integrated solution of technological, environmental, social and economic problems. Therefore, preparations for it should be foreseen at the design stage.
Unfortunately in Russia no integrated solutions of nuclear power unit decommissioning have been developed either at the stage of plant design or during its operation. These solutions have not materialized even after a lifecycle extension decision was taken for several reactors belonging to the first generation.
In essence, the decommissioning of a nuclear power unit includes the consecutive
implementation of a package of administrative and technical measures directed at the termination of any activities related to the facility operation. The unit is brought to an environmentally safe condition, which does not require supervision from regulatory bodies.
World experience shows that this stage requires considerable intellectual and material expenditures and careful planning. It is necessary to prepare a special regulatory-legislative basis and develop appropriate infrastructure for solving this integrated problem, which
needs innovative engineering and social solutions. Finally, the availability of efficient and well-qualified personnel is a must.
It goes without saying that during decommissioning most serious attention should be paid to the safety of personnel, general public and the environment.
But it is not always evident to everybody that it is necessary to mitigate the negative social consequences resulting from jobs lost in the satellite towns of NPPs. These neighborhoods with 30 - 100 thousand inhabitants are socially and economically vulnerable.
Their community infrastructure is rigidly tied to the operating nuclear facility.
There are no alternative working places. Some of these towns are closed or semi-closed municipalities.
The challenge of old reactors' decommissioning can find a most efficient resolution , if it is taken by three sectors of the civil society - authorities, nuclear industry experts and concerned public.
One of the justifications for using such approach is in the problem of site selection for the SNF storage or disposal -protests of local community often complicates the problem.
How this course was prepared
This course was created on the basis of ten-year study of the experience of decommissioning of nuclear power plants around the world. This experience is described in the "Concept of a decommissioning plan for nuclear power plants” prepared by the international "Decommissioning” network.
The "Decommissioning” course was prepared within the framework of the project "Best Practices for the Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Plants in the U.S. and in Russia” and was supported by the U.S. Embassy Moscow. As part of this project, a study tour in the U.S. was organized. International round tables in Russia and the U.S. were held with the participation of Russian and U.S. authorities of various levels, nuclear energy sector experts, and the public.