In June 2008, emptying and reclamation the storage pool of spent nuclear fuel elements was completed.
These works were initiated in response to the discovery, in June 2004, of the partial leakage of the pool which, according to the results of the monitoring activities and environmental surveys put in place by the competent authorities, did not result in consequences for the population and for the environment.
After removal of the fuel elements, the pool reclamation operations concerned, in particular:
- removal of the remaining obsolete components;
- removal of the contaminated sediments still present;
- treatment of the contained water and its subsequent discharge into the Dora Baltea river after a complex purification operation.
All these operations were specifically approved by the Institute for Environmental Protection (ISPRA).
In 2010, the water tower was demolished and the new water supply system was put into operation, with the closure and the final disposal of the old collection wells.
Since 1970, two twin 1000 m3 tanks, called Waste Ponds 718 and 719, are in operation, which were used to collect the effluent from the plant’s activities in order to control it, before discharge into the Dora Baltea.
In August 2013 emptying and reclamation of Waste Pond 719 and recovery of the bottom residue (sludge) was concluded. The procedure for total replacement of the discharge system with one more modern and instrumental to the decommissioning programs was initiated.
Works for the construction of the new electricity substation, able to provide adequate power for dismantling infrastructures and activities, have been completed.
At the end of 2014, the application for deactivation of the Eurex plant was transmitted to the competent authorities.
The decommissioning activities are expected to end in 2036.
Having reached this stage, the radioactive waste, already conditioned and stored in the temporary repositories the site, will be ready to be transferred to the National Repository (attainment of the so-called brown field stage).
With the availability of the National Repository, the radioactive waste will be removed and the site will then be returned to the green field state, i.e. in a condition free of radiological restrictions, which will allow its reuse.
Waste management and safety measures
The solid radioactive waste is currently stored at the site in a temporary repository dating back to the seventies, called “repository 2300”. Its geometric volume is 6500 m3 and it contains approx. 1400 m3 of waste, with a storage volume/waste volume ratio of 4.6. A further 1200 m3 of waste is stored in other existing areas of the plant. Repository 2300, fully occupied, requires alignment with the new safety standards.
In 2011, therefore, work began on the construction of a new temporary repository, called D2, which will ensure maximum safety in the temporary storage exclusively of radioactive waste already on the site and that which will be produced by the dismantling works, in view of their subsequent transfer to the National Repository.
The D2 repository was authorized by decree of the Ministry of Economic Development of 25 June 2008 and was subsequently approved in the Detailed Project Report.
In June 2013, construction of the civil works and systems for the D2 temporary repository was completed.
Main characteristics of the new D2 temporary repository
Total geometric volume: 22300 m3
Gross surface area: 2100 m²
Type and quantity of waste to be stored: approx. 2400 m3 of past and/or future conditioned low and medium activity radioactive waste
The design duration of D2 is approx. 50 years in order to ensure a high level of safety and to permit efficient operation of the infrastructure. The ratio of the geometric volume of D2/useful volume for waste is approx. 9 in order to ensure complete inspectability and ease of movement inside the facility.
For storing higher activity liquid radioactive waste present at the site, in 2006 Sogin built a new series of tanks where these materials, amounting to 125 m3, were transferred between 2008 and 2009, ahead of their conditioning in the Cemex plant.
In 2008, the Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea, in consultation with the Ministry of the Culture Heritage, issued the environmental compatibility (EIA) decree for the construction of the Cemex complex, including the D3 temporary repository, and, in 2010, construction authorization was obtained from the Ministry of Economic Development.
In 2013, the authorization was concluded, with publication on the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport website of the authorization decree for the construction of the Cemex complex. Sogin awarded the tender for its construction in 2013, formalized the contract and work was started.
On 25 June 2015, ISPRA notified
approval with project requirements for the construction of the Cemex complex, on which work began in July 2015.
The Cemex plant will allow the approx. 260 m3 of liquid radioactive waste present at the site to be cemented and conditioned. The annexed D3 temporary repository will allow the solidified high-activity liquid waste to be safely stored, through the cementing process that will take place in Cemex, in preparation for its subsequent transfer to the National Repository.
Construction of the Cemex complex with annexed temporary repository for storage of the artefacts produced will allow the safety levels associated with management of the waste present to be further increased until its transfer to the National Repository. The project meets stringent nuclear safety and radiation protection requirements to ensure the highest levels of protection for workers, the local population and the environment.
Main characteristics of the new D3 temporary repository
Total geometric volume: 9000 m3
Net storage capacity: 600 m3 of radioactive waste (1 120 540 litre gross drums)
Surface area: 621 m²
Type and quantity of waste stored: conditioned high activity radioactive waste, approx. 900 cemented drums
The design duration of D3 is approx. 50 years.
At the end of the decommissioning works and gradual transfer of radioactive waste to the National Repository, all temporary repositories at the site will be dismantled.
As regards the other main activities related to the management and securing of radioactive waste, in 2013 the conditioning and characterisation of most of the large metal components coming from the decontamination of the pool was completed and approx. 100 products overpacks or drums containing radioactive waste, already suitable for transfer to the National repository were produced.
The pre-characterisation of low activity solid waste from the previous dismantling of the Fuel Fabrication Plant (FFP) has been completed. These operations, carried out within the scope of a specific operational plan authorised by ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection), are in preparation for transportation of waste at the Nucleco plant in Casaccia, near Rome, for its processing and conditioning. When finished, the artefacts produced, already suitable for transfer to the National Repository, will return to the Eurex plant. So far approx. 140 overpacks have been produced.
At the end of 2017, the volume of radioactive waste present in Saluggia is equal to 2.710 m3.
Quantity (in cubic metres) of radioactive waste, divided by type, present at the Eurex plant as at 12/31/2017
Very short lived waste
|Very low lived waste
||Low level waste
||Intermediate level waste
||High level waste|
||0 m3 |
The treatment, characterisation and supercompaction of radioactive waste to make it suitable for transfer to the National Repository are still in progress. The inventory of radioactive waste at 31 December 2015 meets the new classification defined by the Ministerial Decree of 7 August 2015.
Removal of the fuel
The fuel, originally in the pool of the Eurex plant, in 2007 was transferred, in view of the subsequent transfer to France, to the Avogadro Repository. The latter also contains elements from other Italian power plants.
To complete the transfer of all the remaining fuel in the Avogadro Repository in Saluggia to France for reprocessing, a total of 3 shipments using 3 casks is necessary.
Following the Lucca Intergovernmental Agreement of 2006 and the commercial agreement between Sogin and Areva of 2007, a total of 5 shipments from the Avogadro repository in Saluggia have been carried out, in addition to having completed removed all the spent fuel present in the Caorso and Trino plants.
In 2014, removal of nuclear materials from the plant within the scope of the GTRI (Global Threat Reduction Initiative) programme between Italy and the USA was completed. The adhesion of Italy to this initiative was instrumental to the process of decommissioning the nuclear plants since the removal of nuclear materials and spent fuel is essential to achieve release of the sites without radiological constraints.
To ensure environmental sustainability, all interventions are designed, implemented and monitored so as not to produce any impact, neither radiological nor conventional, on the environment.
Sogin has extended the existing environmental radiological monitoring and monitors, with continuous and programmed checks, the quality of the air, soil, surface and ground waters, sediments of the Dora Baltea river, as well as the main food products in the area: milk and corn. All the environmental radiological monitoring networks were established at the time of construction of the nuclear plants.
Every year, Sogin systematically carries out hundreds of measurements on the food and environmental matrices that constitute the environmental monitoring network. ARPA Piemonte
carries out similar radiological monitoring and surveillance activities with its own network.
The results of the analyses and the values of the discharge formulas have always confirmed radiologically insignificant environmental impacts. The monitoring results are sent to ISPRA, Institute for Environmental Protection, and made public, also through the company's Sustaibility Report.
Sogin’s Environmental Management System is ISO 14001 certified. After registration of the Caorso and Trino plants, in February 2017, Sogin also obtained the EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) certificate for the activities at the Saluggia plant.
EMAS is a voluntary tool proposed by the European Community with which companies and government agencies can evaluate and improve their environmental performance and provide the public and all stakeholders with information concerning environmental management.
The construction of the EUREX (acronym of Enriched URanium EXtraction) plant started in 1965.
The plant came into service in 1970. ENEA, owner of the site, carried out research on the reprocessing of spent fuel there, an operation which, through appropriate treatment, allows nuclear material that can be reused to be separated and recovered.
Activities were suspended in 1984. Since then, safety of the facilities and systems to protect the population and the environment has been guaranteed
Following the flood in 2000, which nevertheless only affected the conventional structures of the site (auditorium, canteen, a number of offices), a water defence wall, about five meters high, supported by palings going as much as 15 metres deep, was erected around the area of the Eurex plant in Saluggia. This defence is able to withstand even major floods of the Dora Baltea river.
In 2003, Sogin took over management of the plant with the objective of decommissioning it. Since then, all activities implemented and in progress have the objective of securing and dismantling the plant, reducing the level of danger for citizens and the environment and preparing the radioactive materials present at the site for future permanent transfer to the National Repository.