Radons

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Contents

Summary

„Radons“ is a near surface repository for both burial and storage of low and intermediate level radioactive waste. It is located 5 km from the city of Baldone and 27 km from Riga, the capital. The repository consists of 2 parts: supervised area and controlled area with 7 vaults[4]. Vault No.7 is still in use.

„Radons“ is in operation since 1962. Until 1972, only local radioactive waste was stored there, later waste from other Soviet states was brought - Latvia was a part of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1990. In 1986 protective garments from Chernobyl were stored there, too.[5] Nowadays import of radioactive waste is forbidden by Latvian legislation. During the Soviet time, Salaspils Research Reactor was built and radioactive waste produced there is also stored in „Radons“.

In 1991 the government made an order for extension of „Radons“, building 2 new vaults, but the extension was not implemented. In 2008 the government made a new order concerning the extension of „Radons“. As of April 2013, it is not implemented. A group of locals who were against the extension gathered into NGO “Musu Baldone”, organized several protest activities and later went to the Administrative Court claiming that the order about the extension was unlawful. The trial process lasted from 2010 to 2012, but the NGO lost the case in all three instances.

Critics

contact details of critical groups working against this facility

  • group name, phone, email, website, postal address
  • NGO "Musu Baldone"
phone: +371 28257999
email: info AT musubaldone.lv[6]
http://www.musubaldone.lv (currently not working - March 4, 2015)

Links

links to operator and critical websites

Background Information

Construction of „Radons“ started in 1959. Documents about this period are not available[7], but the general opinion is that Baldone was chosen because it was close to Salaspils, where construction works of Salaspils Research Reactor (SRR) had started in January 1959.

Before „Radons“ was built, low and intermediate level waste was stored in several places – in the Institute of Physics, the Polytechnical Institute and the Institute of Microbiology.[8] The site is located at a hill that rises up to a level of 35 m higher than the territory surrounding it. The level of groundwater in the vicinity of the site is 18 m below the earth surface.[9]

„Radons“ belongs to the state and has 7 vaults:

  • Vault No.1 (capacity - 200 m³) is not in use anymore and currently is covered by sand.
  • Vault No.2 (capacity - 200 m³) was cleaned from liquid waste and currently is not in use.
  • Vault No.3 (capacity - 200 m³) is made of standard concrete blocks therefore it was additionally sealed in 1986. Currently is not in use and is covered by sand.
  • Vault No.4 (capacity - 40 m³) was intended for storage of biological waste. Built in 1974. Currently not in use.
  • Vault No.5 (capacity - 40 m³) was intended for storage of biological waste. Built in 1987. Currently not in use.
  • Vault No.6 (capacity - 200 m³), built in 1970, is made of standard concrete blocks therefore is was additionally sealed in 1986. Currently not in use.
  • Only vault No.7 (capacity – 1200 m³), which is in operation since 1995, is still in use, thus its radioactive background is higher.[10]

At the end of 2008, the total radioactivity of waste in the repository was approximately 5.5×1,014 Bq. The total volume of waste was approximately 840 m³. The amount of radioactive waste accepted per year varies, fluctuating about 1,013 Bq per year.[11]

„Radons“ is a near surface repository, which means that it was constructed on the earth surface.[12]

The repository stores both liquid and solid radioactive waste.[13] Its biggest „client“ was – and still is – SRR. After decomissioning of it will be completed, „Radons“ will receive approximately 1,200 m³ of waste from there.

Apart from that, „Radons“ stores radioactive waste from research institutes, medical facilities and production sites[14] (for instance, from „Liepajas Metalurgs“ metallurgical mill[15]).

Although Latvian legislation forbids import of radioactive waste, it does not apply to Lithuania and Estonia. So waste from all three Baltic countries is stored in „Radons“.[16]

In 1991 the government made an order about the extension of „Radons“ - construction of 2 new vaults. Since „Radons“ is located very close to an inhabited locality, the government promised a compensation for the Baldone Municipaloty: money for building of a school, an ambulance with a pharmacy store, a dwelling-house for teachers and a complex boiler house.[17] However, the extension was not implemented and the objects mentioned above are still being built, which later led to disagreements between the municipality and the government.

In 2008 the government made a new order concerning the extension of „Radons“: 2 new vaults with the capacity of 1,200 m³ each. A compensation for the municipality was intended in this document, too, but the municipality reproached to the State that it has not performed the duties undertaken in the previous document.[18]

In the new decision the extension was grounded on the necessity to store radioactive waste – approximately 1,200 m³ - that would occure in the result of dismantling of SRR. It is more than „Radons“ could accomodate in vault No7. The rest of the space would be used to store radioactive waste that would occure from medicine and research and industrial activities.

Since „Radons“ is located so close to an inhabited locality, locals and the municipality are not happy about its existence and especially about the government’s plans to extend "Radons". For instance, in December 2008 nearly 30 people, including youth, picketed at the Cabinet of Ministers protesting against the planned extension. Also 3,000 signatures against the extension were collected. It is a very good indicator of the anti-Radons mood, because the population of Baldone is less than 6,000 people.

Locals say that the presence of "Radons" produces discomfort and prejudice about Baldone, which makes negative impact on Baldone’s development and there are not many people willing to buy a real estate in the area. Also locals are concerned about "Radons" impact on health and the environment and claim the amount of information on these issues not to be sufficient.[19]

A group of locals have gathered into an NGO “Musu Baldone” (Our Baldone), which went to the Administrative Court. In their claim the NGO wrote that the order about the extension was unlawful. The hearing was held on September 16th, 2010. The verdict was announced on October 7th and it rejected “Musu Baldone” claim. The NGO appealed against this decision. The appeal took place on January 10, 2012. The verdict, announced on January 31, 2012, was negative again. On February 2, 2012 "Musu Baldone" announced on their webpage that the battle is not over and they would appeal against this decision, too. At the end of 2012, the Supreme Court of Appeal left the verdict of the Court of Appeal unamended.

In January 2013, Baldone's activists announced that they would wait, but not relax.[20] Two months earlier activists stated that in case of a negative court verdict, they are ready to protest, including massive protests. “After all, in Germany people lay down on rails. We are talking not about two tanks here, but duplication of the total volume. Radioactive background will increase during construction works,” said Karīna Putniņa, the Chairwoman of Baldone District Council.[21]

As of March 5, 2015 Radons still has not been extended.

At the beginning of 2015, after a leakage at SRR in December 2014 and a possible leakage in January 2015 the government had a meeting in which they decided to finally finish the decomissioning of SRR. The current costs are approximately EUR 5.5 million and the decommissioning should be completed in four years, commencing in 2016[22]. The source of funding is currently unclear as the government has not budgeted money for this purpose.

However, that would be only half of the costs. Another 7 million euros are necessary for the extension of Radons.[23] Without the extension the decommissioning cannot be completed.

In January 2015 it was announced that the State Ltd. Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre will order a new safety assessment for Radons as the previous one was carried out in 2004[24].

In February 2015 residents of Baldone gathered for a hearing for the Rail Baltica project. Three different options were offered to the locals but all of them received a negative feedback as two of them plan to have the railway too close to Radons and the third one would bisect a village. The locals were concerned that in all three cases vibrations created by trains could affect the safety of Radons.[25]

Rail Baltica is a Trans-European railway project that would link Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, Warsaw and continue on to Berlin[26].


Additional Information

Media Coverage

Open Questions

  • Constructor?
  • Radiation doses?
  • Type of waste materials?
  • Licence (how much waste is allowed to be stored there)?
  • Accidents?

  1. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  2. National Report On the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties, the Republic of Latvia. The Radiation Safety Centre of the Republic of Latvia 2008.
  3. National Report On the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties, the Republic of Latvia. The Radiation Safety Centre of the Republic of Latvia 2008.
  4. National Report On the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties, the Republic of Latvia. The Radiation Safety Centre of the Republic of Latvia 2008.
  5. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/N_Radons.htm as of April 25, 2013
  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.
  7. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  8. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  9. National Report On the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties, the Republic of Latvia. The Radiation Safety Centre of the Republic of Latvia 2008.
  10. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  11. National Report On the implementation of the obligations under the Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, 3rd Review meeting of the Contracting Parties, the Republic of Latvia. The Radiation Safety Centre of the Republic of Latvia 2008.
  12. http://www.rata.lt/en.php/flash/?PHPSESSID=7572b943abd933d8d94a24f02cb4fcc9 as of April 25, 2013
  13. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  14. http://www.db.lv/laikraksta-arhivs/pasvaldibas/dunas-radons-un-citi-elementi-256503 as of April 25, 2013
  15. http://www.aprinkis.lv/sabiedriba/pasvaldibas/item/6477-radona-radons-baldone-%E2%80%93-kluss-kaimins-vai-nelugts-viesis as of April 25, 2013
  16. http://www.aprinkis.lv/sabiedriba/pasvaldibas/item/6477-radona-radons-baldone-%E2%80%93-kluss-kaimins-vai-nelugts-viesis as of April 25, 2013
  17. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/N_Radons.htm as of April 25, 2013
  18. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/N_Radons.htm as of April 25, 2013
  19. http://www.baldone.lv/Lapas/index.html as of April 25, 2013
  20. http://www.aprinkis.lv/sabiedriba/pasvaldibas/item/7300-radona-pretinieki-nogaidis-bet-neatslabs as of April 25, 2013
  21. http://www.aprinkis.lv/sabiedriba/pasvaldibas/item/5906-nelabveliga-sprieduma-gadijuma-radona-lieta-baldoniesi-protestes. as of April 25, 2013
  22. http://skaties.lv/latvija/politika/valdiba-vienojas-ka-bistamais-salaspils-kodolreaktors-tiks-pilniba-demontets/ as of March 5, 2015
  23. http://skaties.lv/latvija/sabiedriba/finansejuma-trukuma-del-salaspils-kodolreaktors-netiek-pienacigi-uzglabati-apdraud-rigu-un-apkartni/ as of March 5, 2015
  24. http://nra.lv/latvija/132748-pec-10-gadu-partraukuma-novertes-radioaktivo-atkritumu-glabatuvi-baldone.htm as of March 5, 2015
  25. http://www.aprinkis.lv/sabiedriba/pasvaldibas/item/23557-rail-baltica-del-baldone-raizejas-par-ipasumiem-un-radioaktivo-atkritumu-glabatavas-radons-drosibu as of March 5, 2015
  26. http://www.rail-baltica.com/pub/ as of March 5, 2015

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