Resins treatment

Status: Ongoing
Period: 2015-2023

The project involves the preparation, shipment and treatment of 5,900 tanks, containing 800 tonnes of ion exchange spent resins and 60 tonnes of radioactive sludges, in the Bohunice (Slovakia) facility. 

The treatment will use the incineration technique, while conditioning will be carried out in pods containing radioactive ashes incorporated in a cement matrix within stainless-steel tanks with a capacity of 440 l.

The purpose of the project is reducing by 90% the volume of waste (from 1.290 mc to 130 mc), by creating final products to be shipped to the National Repository.

After treatment and conditioning, all waste (final products) will return to the site where it will be temporarily stored before being shipped to the National Repository. 

The complexity of the project is linked to the identification of suitable pre-treatments for resins and sludges, the management of treatment operations abroad and the recovery of the tanks containing the resins from one of the two interim storage facilities on the site (ERSMA - Medium Activity Waste Building), where this waste was stored in the past.

Starting from 2015, a series of preliminary activities have been carried out. In particular, a characterisation campaign for the resins stored in ERSBA 1 and 2 (Low Activity Solid Waste Building 1 and 2) was implemented in 2015 - 2016.  In addition, the adaptation works were carried out on the ERSMA interim storage facility for the handling, packaging and characterisation of the tanks extracted from the shielded cells. Among these, there is the dismantling of the transelevator, used in the past to store the drums in shielded cells and used by Sogin for the recovery of the first batches of tanks. It was replaced in 2018 with a new machine, of superior performance, which allows, with remote control, the extraction of the tanks, about 1,500, more difficult to recover due to their positioning.

In november 2017, the first resin tanks were sent to the Slovak facility to carry out the “cold tests” of the pre-treatment system and the incinerator’s power supply. 

Caorso - Preparatory activities for the transport of drums
The project continued in 2018 with a first phase of the shipment of 336 tanks containing radioactive resins and sludges to the Bohunice facility, aiming at performing the "hot tests" of the Slovakian plant, with the production of the first final products.

The positive outcome of the tests allowed, in the second half of 2019, the approval of the operational plan and the authorization for the shipment and treatment of the remaining waste scheduled in the project.

Therefore, Sogin launched, on January 29th 2020, the second and final phase of the transfer program (with 33 transports) of the remaining drums, approximately 5,600, to the Slovakian plant, whose conclusion is expected in 2022.

The transfer of this waste, which represents a volume of about 70% of the waste stored today at the site, will allow the three interim storage buildings of the plant to be emptied and upgraded to the current safety standards, without the need for building new temporary repositories. Moreover, emptying the three repositories will allow to restart and speed up the decommissioning of the plant, with the guarantee of the highest safety standards.

All transfer operations take place under the control of the various authorities responsible for ensuring maximum safety for the population and the environment.

Treatment of 5.600 drums and shipment operations are expected to conclude by 4 years (2020-2023).

On January 30, 2020, during the handling of radioactive waste for their shipment to Slovakia for treatment and conditioning, a drum of radioactive waste consisting exhausted ion exchange resins fell from its storage bay. Sogin promptly notified the event to the ISIN supervisory authority. The following day, the visit of ISIN in collaboration with ARPA Emilia Romagna officials, who carried out independent radiometric measurements, highlighted that the event did not have radiological consequences for the population and the environment.