Site studies to begin for Czech repository

28 October 2014

The Czech environment ministry has given its approval for initial geological surveys to begin at seven candidate sites for a national repository for high-level radioactive waste.

Czech repository concept 460 (SURAO)
The concept for the Czech deep geologic repository (Image: SURAO)

The ministry has issued a licence to the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO) to conduct only the initial stage of geological investigation work at the sites. This will involve the taking of surface and near-surface measurements and rock soundings, data collection and gathering of rock samples using non-invasive methods.

SURAO said as soon as the decision comes into force, preparations will begin concerning geological investigations at the sites. It said that the contractor selection process is already under way so that the investigation work can start as soon as possible. "Geological work plans and reviews of existing available information and data will have to be prepared prior to the commencement of work at the sites," SURAO noted.

The candidate sites include: Horka (Budišov) and Hrádek (Rohozná), both in the Vysočina region; Čihadlo (Lodhéřov) and Magdaléna (Božejovice) in the South Bohemia region; Březový potok (Pačejov) in Plzeň region; and Čertovka (Lubenec) in the Plzeň and Ústí-nad-Labem regions. A former military area at Boletice in South Bohemia region is also under consideration.

Although the municipalities have voluntarily participated in the site selection process, they had 15 days from the date of the environment ministry's decision, on 23 October, to appeal against the licence.

SURAO noted that 40 communities in the locations concerned will be entitled to claim compensation of almost CZK72 million ($3.3 million) per year. Compensation payments would be made throughout the duration of the investigation period, it said.

SURAO's managing director Jiří Slovák said, "Throughout the whole investigation period SURAO will act in compliance with Czech legislation, enable the communities concerned to monitor its work and keep the communities fully informed of its activities. Communities have the right to comment on the process and intervene in accordance with relevant legislation." He added, "We believe that this procedure will be acceptable for all the municipalities."

SURAO said that the selection of the final location for the repository "will be based on detailed geological investigation, comprehensive technical and economic studies, studies regarding potential environmental impacts and socio-economic analysis."

Construction of the Czech repository - to be built to a depth of some 500 metres - is envisaged to begin around 2050, with the facility put into operation in 2065. SURAO said the repository's underground galleries "may well have to cover an area of several square kilometres depending on the amount of material to be disposed of and the design of the repository."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News