President of Ukraine's National Nuclear Energy Generating Company Enerhoatom Yuriy Nedashkovskyy says that in 2020 Ukraine will stop shipping its spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants to Russia for processing.
Spent fuel will be stored in a centralized storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, which is currently being built in the Chornobyl exclusion zone, Nedashkovskyy told journalists while visiting the storage facility on August 16. According to Nedashkovskyy, the main goal of the construction of the facility is the energy security of Ukraine.
"With its launch, Ukraine will get rid of the last, so to speak, leverage, monopoly influence on us or monopoly dependence on the aggressor country," Nedashkovskyy said. "In 2020, we will cease sending our spent nuclear fuel to Russian processing plants, as we'll store it at our storage facility. The project is directly aimed at future prospects. There are certain speculations or even explicit lies alleging that it's a nuclear waste landfill or burial site, while it is a repository of strategic materials which could be used in future to generate environmentally friendly and low-cost electricity," he said.
From an economic point of view, the price of storing spent nuclear fuel in containers in Ukraine is four or five times lower than exporting it for processing in Russia. Currently, three plants of US-based Holtec International are manufacturing equipment for the Ukrainian storage facility and conducting acceptance tests.
The first stage of the storage facility will be commissioned in 2019. Spent nuclear fuel from Rivne, Khmelnytskyy and Yuzhnoukrayinsk nuclear power plants will be stored there for 100 years. Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has been using its own storage facility since 2001. Ukraine annually spends about $200 million on the removal and processing of spent nuclear fuel in Russia because it has not had its own storage facility. Its construction was approved by Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers early in June 2017 and begun on 9 November 2017. Holtec International is a contractor under the construction project.