Nuclear complex at Krasnoyarsk (KMCIC)
To front page waste
Mining and Chemical Complex (KMCIC) is located about 60 km northeast of
Krasnoyarsk on the east bank of the Yenisei River which empties into the
Kara Sea. The city of Krasnoyarsk is now called Zheleznogorsk. The complex
started operations in 1958 and is the last facility producing weapons grade
plutonium that was built in the former Soviet Union. The entire complex was
built underground to protect it against possible attack. Two reactors for
plutonium production were cooled by water directly from the Yenisei River.
This caused substantial radioactive contamination downstream from the
complex. The site originally contained three nuclear reactors, a
radiochemical plant for separating weapons grade plutonium and uranium, and
facilities for storing nuclear waste. Only one of the reactors is now in
operation along with a chemical plant used to recover spent fuel from the
reactor. The reactor has a closed-loop cooling system which discharges
substantially less radioactive pollution into the Yenisei River.
Impact assessment of
waste treatment/storage at the Krasnoyarsk complex
An assessment of pollution levels has been carried out at the Krasnoyarsk
complex. This involved modelling and impact assessments and included an
assessment of suitable river models, calculations of radiation doses for
population groups in the northern areas and assessments of consequences of
current practice and of possible accidents. A main aim of the project has
been to generate information on the transfer of radioactivity along the
Yeniseis river system and consequences for humans (Arctic population). The
final report is being drawn up, giving information on current and historical
levels of radioactive pollution, a description of operations at the complex
and quantity of radioactivity that has accumulated over the years in the
environment and in subterranean storage facilities. The report also contains
impact assessments of various accident scenarios along with an assessment of
radiation doses to the Arctic population.
Radioactive pollution in
Radioactive contamination of the Yenisei
River diminishes with increasing distance from the discharge site and fell
markedly after 1992 when reactor operations involving direct discharges were
halted. The complex is located about 2000 km from the Kara Sea where
radiation is now mainly associated with fallout from nuclear testing in the
1950s and 1960s. The use of deep reprocessing waste injection wells close to
the complex has reduced local contamination in the area.
The first two reactors used
water from the Yenisei River to cool the reactor core and discharged the
coolant directly back to the river. This led to radioactive contamination of
the river, sentiments, flora and fauna. A quantity of low and medium active
liquid waste was stored in basins, treated and released into the river. Most
of the liquid waste was injected into deep subterranean wells after
separation of plutonium and uranium. The wells are located about 12 km
northeast of Krasnoyarsk-26 at Severny. The wells reduced pollution of the
environment around Krasnoyarsk-26, but two 15 km long pipes transporting
liquid radioactive waste to Severny have leaked on previous occasions,
causing local radioactive contamination.
One of the reactors at the
complex is still in use today, albeit only for production of electricity and
heat. The reactor has a closed-loop cooling system which does not entail any
substantial increase in radioactive contamination of the Yenisei River.
Radioactive discharges to the Yenisei fell by a factor of ~15 after the
first two reactors were halted in 1992.
It was decided to build a recovery plant
(RT-2) in 1974. So far only the storage facility for spent fuel has been
built, and was put into service in 1985. It remains in operation today.
Construction of the recovery plant was halted in 1990 due to local
opposition and lack of funding, and remains 30-40% complete.