The Vektor complex in Chernobyl
The Vektor complex in Chernobyl

The Vector radioactive waste storage complex is located 17 kilometers from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Its capacities are sufficient to ensure the decontamination process and subsequent storage of radioactive fuel waste concentrated in the territory of the exclusion zone itself.

Experts note that today there are about three million cubic meters of such radioactive materials in the exclusion zone. The complex includes a storage facility for the disposal of radioactive waste in reinforced concrete boxes, as well as facilities for the disposal of waste in bulk.

Special infrastructure facilities, such as a car wash, a radiological inspection, a sanitary center, and other radiation monitoring facilities, are also concentrated in it. What else will the Vector store?

In addition to the radioactive waste on the basis of the Vector listed above, the waste, accumulated both during the operation of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and after it, is stored. Liquid and solid wastes subjected to a special processing procedure at the respective enterprises will subsequently be transported to the territory of the Vector, to a surface storage with a capacity of 50250 cubic meters. The first batch of containers from the Chernobyl NPP has already been loaded, the functional capacities of the Vector have been put into operation.

Furthermore, fuel processing segments from the reactors of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant, which cannot be used in any industry, either in the nuclear energy industry or anywhere else, will be stored on its base. Moreover, the Vector will become the base that will receive waste from special enterprises of the integrated Radon system for burial.

It is also planned to place radiation waste from other nuclear power plants in Ukraine. When filling the first row of the storage, the container with the radioactive waste immersed in it will be poured with concrete, then the next boxes for preservation will begin to be placed on top, and so on. When a four-story concrete complex is formed in the process of accumulation, it will be mothballed, covered with several layers of clay and soil, and planted with herbs. This is how radiation waste will be stored for the next 300 years.

As you know, the modern world industry in the field of radiation safety has traditionally provided for only two types of storage of radioactive waste. They haven’t invented anything new yet. The first is geological, in special deep-seated formations within the earth. The second is near-surface storage.

Things are still extremely difficult with the first option in our country. If the prospect of such a grandiose construction is worth considering, it’s not earlier than 50 years later. But the Vector is an entirely suitable alternative today, with its own advantages. Firstly, it has a near-surface storage, and, secondly, its location is in proximity to the exclusion zone.

Compare for yourself, what is better – to take some kind of dirty substance and shift it into a hole located nearby? Or drag it through the entire village to the back yard, losing a good half of it along the way and messing up the streets that were clean before that. Not only that, no one will give guarantees that no one will get dirty about this mud at a new location. Such a comparison is very primitive, but it is very revealing.

It happened that the territory of the 10-kilometer exclusion zone does not imply the prospective residence of a person on it. So why don’t we use it to store radioactive waste, and not stain half the country for this purpose? After all, the waste placed on the basis of the Vector will have exclusively domestic roots.

Disaster disposal

Having embarked on a series of measures to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, several locations were constructed at once in the exclusion zone for the disposal of radiation and emergency waste. Among them are such objects as “Buryakovka”, “Podlesny”, “Chernobyl Third Stage”, as well as temporary accommodation facilities.

Burial “Buryakovka” is an object that stores solid low and medium active radiation waste. Over the course of about thirty years, they will be under the control of an administrative nature, and for the next 300 years they will remain under sanitary supervision.

This burial site was commissioned back in 1987, it has 30 near-surface structures, a kind of “trenches” for laying and burial. From the point of view of engineering fencing, this radionuclide location object is equipped with a special clay screen, its thickness is about one meter.

If we count from the moment this burial was put into operation, the amount of radiation waste of Chernobyl origin disposed in it is approximately equal to one and a half thousand tons. In addition, a radiation-affected equipment was used on a specially designated site of this burial site, which was used to eliminate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

Its fragmentation and dismantling began only in 2012. Not so long ago, regulatory authorities gave permission to expand Buryakovka, through the construction of six more trench storage facilities with a total area of about 120 thousand meters.

What about other burial sites?

Both burial sites, Podlesny and Chernobyl Third Stage, were created in the first years after the Chernobyl accident. They began to dispose of critically hazardous, long-lived and highly active radiation waste after the accident in them, in the first period of liquidation of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

If according to the rules, in the future these wastes should be transferred and reburied in an underground storage, the so-called, geological, but Ukraine is so far only determined with such a geological formation. Time does not play in favor of those who have taken a wait-and-see approach. 

It is also necessary to accelerate this process in order to manage in time to organize measures aimed at protecting future potential storage facilities from degradation of engineering barriers, thereby ensuring a progressive improvement of technological structures.

The most famous of the temporary disposal sites for radioactive waste is the Rossokha repository. This is a huge, twenty hectare “septic tank” of infected equipment. This is in it in anticipation of a natural reduction in the dose of radiation to acceptable levels. Today, this burial site is considered to be virtually eliminated.

In addition to the disposal sites indicated in this material, there are several smaller objects of temporary location of radioactive waste on the territory of the exclusion zone. In total, this is about a thousand trenches spontaneously created during the aftermath of the accident.

Everything that could be pulled to them was dumped on these sites. Today, their fate depends on the time of operation and the degree of wear. They are periodically reburied in other repositories, in particular, if there is a question about the possible flooding or deformation of the soil.