Letter from Milena Cernilogar Radež, ENS Board Members and Member of the Nuclear Society of Slovenia - NSS

Nuclear Society of Slovenia

Milena Cernilogar Radez

In recent years, the Nuclear Society of Slovenia (NSS) has carried out several activities aimed at raising its profile by conveying messages about the advantages of nuclear energy to the general public and politicians. We believe that such frequently articulated messages can gradually help to reduce the extent of anti-nuclear feeling expressed by the public and young students. The board of NSS has reviewed recent trends in Slovenian nuclear energy policy and has promoted further action by inviting all the members of the society, especially the younger generation of members to take part in the activities of NSS. NSS

increasingly organizes conferences, workshops, exhibitions, and communication campaigns aimed at the public, which present positive reports on the future role of nuclear energy. Finally, Slovenian policy-makers have already started creating the favourable conditions that Slovenia needs to meet its economic, energy and environmental objectives – by keeping nuclear as one of the central options in their energy policy and by encouraging increased education about nuclear energy.

In September 1996, the Slovenian Government adopted its Strategy for Long-Term Spent Fuel Management, with ongoing revision of the strategy carried out by the national Agency for Radwaste. Furthermore, activities related to choice of site and conceptual design of the low and intermediate level waste disposal have been given top priority by the government. IN the last two years, substantial progress has been made towards the selection of a location for the final disposal of low and intermediate radioactive waste. The government, with the full support of members of parliament, recently adopted a national programme for the management with radioactive waste and spent fuel for the period from 2006 to 2015.

Slovenia has one operating nuclear power plant that contributes about 40% of the country’s electricity production, a research reactor, an interim central radioactive waste storage unit for low and intermediate level solid radioactive waste from non-power users of nuclear energy. Slovenia also has one uranium mine and mill that is currently being decommissioned.

The government’s energy policy is outlined in the National Energy Programme, which also addresses nuclear power. The main principles that underpin this programme are sustainability, ecological acceptability and security of energy supply.

The resolution on the National Energy programme was adopted by the Slovenian Parliament in 2004. In this document the following main policy decision was made: the Krško NPP will remain in operation until at least 2023. In order to ensure its continued safe and reliable operation, adequate steps will be taken and the decision on the life extension of the Krško NPP will be made in 2012. This decision will be based on an evaluation programme that will start in 2008.

The Krško Nuclear Power Plant, which is situated in the south eastern part of Slovenia, is a Westinghouse two-loop pressurized water reactor with originally installed capacity of 632 MWe. After the steam generator was replaced the power was up-rated to 676 MWe. In 2006, the low pressure turbine will be replaced and the power will be up-rated again providing an additional 23 MWe. The construction of the Krško NPP started in 1974. On the basis of a special permit, the first fuel loading took place in May 1981 and the plant was connected to the grid in October of the same year. After an authorised trial operation, full power was reached in August 1982, and the first full year of commercial operation was 1983.

Solid radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel are stored at the plant. A major project that took place in 2003 was the expansion of the capacity of the spent fuel pit, which has now enough capacity to store spent fuel until 2023 (with the possibility of further expansion of capacity in the future). Solid radioactive waste is treated and then packed into steel drums, which are then stored in the Solid Waste Storage unit at the plant. The safety features of the Krško NPP’s design are based on the requirements of the US Atomic Energy Commission of 1973. Westinghouse, as the main contractor, was responsible for the implementation of these requirements during the design phase, construction and testing.

The Krško NPP has been the subject of IAEA supervision since the very beginning of the project. The commitment made by the plant operator and the regulatory body (the Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration), advised by a number of technical support organisations, was to learn from international experiences and expertise in the field of nuclear safety and to fulfil strict western safety standards.

The research reactor TRIGA Mark II, at the Jožef Stefan Institute, is situated in the vicinity of Ljubljana and has a 250 kWth General Atomic pool reactor. TRIGA was initially licensed in 1966 as an IAEA project and was re-licensed for steady state and pulse operation after refurbishment and reconstruction, in 1992.

The Žirovski Vrh Uranium Mine and Mill was in operation from 1985 to 1990. Its lifetime production was 607,700 tons of ore, which corresponded to 452.5 tons (U308 equivalent) of yellow cake. Both the mine and the mill are undergoing decommissioning and the remediation of surface disposal of 1,548,000 tons of mine waste and red mud, and 593,000 tons of mill tailings is also ongoing.

The Central Radioactive Waste Storage unit adjacent to the Jožef Stefan Institute research reactor in Brinje is used to store low and Intermediate -evel solid radioactive waste from the reactor centre and from small waste producers such as medical, research and industrial units that use ionizing radiation.

Permanent publicly funded research programmes on nuclear technology are carried out by the Universities of Ljubljana and Maribor and by the Jožef Stefan Institiute. Projects and interdisciplinary research on nuclear technology are performed hand in hand with research on radiation protection and research on public opinion with regard to nuclear, radioactivity and radiation-related issues.

Scientists and university teachers from several Slovenian institutions, who are also active NSS's members, are involved in various international research projects related to both nuclear fusion and fission. These international research activities are - to a large extent - performed by the Jožef Stefan Institute. University courses are taught within the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN), of which the Jožef Stefan Institute is one of the founding members and the University of Ljubljana of the academic members.

In 2005, Slovenian institutions, together with Polish institutions, reached agreements with EURATOM, the European Atomic Energy Community that secured long-term R&D co-operation across the European Union in the field of fusion. Scientists and research organisations in both countries now have greater access to Europe’s integrated fusion research programmes and facilities. Slovenia is convinced that fusion is one of the few sustainable energy options that will benefit the long-term future of mankind. Research in this field has seen enormous progress made in recent decades. The results obtained in a variety of tokomaks and other experimental machines have enabled the foundations of future research to be laid. Slovenian institutions are participating in the work of the experimental tokomak facility (ITER), which demonstrates the scientific and technological feasibility of harnessing energy from fusion for peaceful purposes.

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