PR:What does Radioactive Waste Repository Authority keep secret about the Underground Research Laboratory Bukov?

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=> CZECH version of this press release

Press release dated August 9, 2017
http://calla.cz/index.php?path=hl_stranka/tiskovky/2017&php=tz170809.php

What does Radioactive Waste Repository Authority keep secret about the Underground Research Laboratory Bukov?

Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA) has strengthened doubts as to whether hundreds of millions of Czech crowns, which will vanish into the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) Bukov (situated in the former uranium mine site) in the future, are efficiently spent resources. RAWRA has decided to conceal the fundamental technical and economic study of the implementation of the research program at URL Bukov, which was to prove the suitability of the site for research activities related to a deep geological repository (DGR). Calla appealed against a decision because the arguments put forward by RAWRA - a reference to copyright or a statement that the study is a mere "underlying information" - are not supported by law [1].

The Government has decided about a preparation of the requested study after the regulator State Office for Nuclear Safety (SONS) has also criticized the non-consensual procedure of RAWRA [2]. In particular, doubts are raised by that the geological structure in URL Bukov differs significantly from the other potential sites selected for a DGR in the Czech Republic. In addition, the rock environment in Bukov is very complicated, disturbed, so the underground laboratory project had to be changed twice in a short period of time because of serious difficulties during the excavation. There is also water penetration in a quantity that was not anticipated, and additionally, this water passage is connected to mine sites, which means that such conditions are not suitable for a DGR [3]. Perhaps the project will serve well the second declared purpose – rising awareness and public relations directed at the general public.

However, the question marks also arise over the legality of the decision on the construction of the already completed URL Bukov. The works contract between RAWRA and state enterprise DIAMO as a supplier, which climbed to 107 million Czech crowns, was signed in May 2013, without the government decision to approve the action plan and budget [4]. In December 2016, on the proposal of the then Minister of Industry and Trade Mládek, the government decided to grant another 313 million crowns from the nuclear account without a tender for DIAMO to ensure the operation of URL Bukov until 2019. The total costs of public funds for construction, operation and research by 2030 should be around CZK 1.8 billion [5].

Edvard Sequens, Energy Consultant of Calla – Association for Preservation of the Environment, said: Repository Authority likes to talk about transparency, but in fact, it does the opposite. The secrecy of the tech-economic analysis of URL Bukov is just one of the recent examples.

Magdalena Sedláčková, Lawyer of Doucha Šikola Advocates Ltd., said: "The decision by RAWRA to refuse to provide information is purposeful and unlawful because none of these reasons are supported by the Czech Act on Free Access to Information or the Case law."

Additional information can be provided by:

Notes:

  1. Decision of the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority Board dated 24 July 2017 regarding the rejection the Calla’s request for a study pursuant to Act No. 106/1999 Coll., On Free Access to Information and Appeal by Calla dated 8th August 2017 can be sent upon your request.
  2. Government Resolution No. 50/2016 of 25 January 2016 on "Proposal to address the social consequences of the closure of the Rožná uranium mine in Dolní Rožínka", which also included a proposal for further development of the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) Bukov financed from public funds. In its comments, the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SONS) stated: "The SONS expresses serious concern that considering the current nonconceptional withdrawal of resources from the nuclear account, an example of which is also the construction and operation of the Underground Research Laboratory (URL) Bukov, a total nuclear depletion of the nuclear account may take place in the future before the construction or operation of the deep geological repository (DGR) in 2065. Therefore, there would be no DGR in the Czech Republic, nor money for its further development. SONS can not currently comment on suitability or unsuitability of the Bukov site for construction and operation of URL, because RAWRA has never contacted SONS about construction of a URL. Generally, however, we can not rule out a situation that results of future exploration work in selected sites in the required depth will prove unsuitability of the site for a URL and the need to build a completely new URL. Therefore, it is necessary to consider that the economic benefits associated with existing mining infrastructure in the site of Bukov presented in the proposal are hypothetical and full depreciation of investments in the URL can not be excluded. Experience from abroad shows that this situation may occur and that and that the optimal solution to minimize the probability is to situate URL at the site of the future deep repository (as with the Onkalo site in Finland)."
  3. See presentation "Underground Research Laboratory Bukov - Can It Contribute to the Safety of Future Deep Geological Repository?" by Mgr. Matěj Machek Ph.D. of the the Institute of Geophysics of the Academy of Science, Czech Republic http://www.nechcemeuloziste.cz/en/documents/prezentation-dok/podzemni-vyzkumne-pracoviste-bukov-muze-prispet-k-bezpecnosti-budouciho-uloziste.html
  4. In accordance with Article 26 (4) of the then applicable Atomic Act, the withdrawal of funds from the Nuclear Account for the activities of RAWRA could be done solely on the basis of a government approved action plan with the RAWRA‘s budget for the year in question. In the "Radioactive Waste Repository Authority Plan for 2013, a 3-year Plan and a Long-term Plan" there is no reference to the URL Bukov and the investment in it. The information about URL Bukov is missing even in other years and it appears for the first time in the Plan of Action for 2016. Even in the current Governmental "National Programme on Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management in the Czech Republic", the construction and operation of such an URL is not mentioned.
  5. See in detail the document "Proposal to address the social consequences of closure of the Rožná uranium mine in Dolní Rožínka" that the government adopted in January 2016.
  6. For protection against automatical email address robots searching for addresses to send spam to them this email address has been made unreadable for them. To get a correct mail address you have to displace "AT" by the @-symbol and "DOT" by the dot-character (".").
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