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Radioactive and Nuclear Materials of Unknown Origin

Radioactive and nuclear materials of unknown origin

The Slovak Republic assumed responsibility for institutional radioactive waste (IRAW) as well as for radioactive and nuclear materials of unknown origin (RMUO) occurring on its territory. The institutional waste comes from the use of radiation sources, materials, chemicals and packed nuclear materials (with the exception of spent nuclear fuel). These are used by state and public institutions as well as organizations and companies especially in the field of public health, education, defence, regulation, measurement and defectoscopy. In line with the “polluter pays” principle, the Slovak Republic secures collection, treatment and storage of the waste at the expense of the waste producer. The storage of this waste, until its safe disposal, is centralized in a newly constructed storage facility for institutional radioactive waste and radioactive materials of unknown origin in Mochovce (so-called IRAW and RMUO storage) commissioned in 2016. The operation of this facility is managed by the company JAVYS, a. s.

An orphan source or radioactive/nuclear material are, after being detected (e.g. intercepted radioactive and nuclear materials at borders or ironworks entrances, municipal waste dumps investigated by the police, by the Public Health Authority of the SR, by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of the SR, or by the Ministry of Transport and Construction of the SR), considered to be radioactive or as nuclear material of unknown origin. These materials must be eliminated from the environment, treated and disposed. The investigation is usually initiated by the Public Health Authority of the SR. The search, transport, identification and storage are managed by authorized organizations.

If the originator or the owner of radioactive material is unknown, the competent authority declares it for institutional radioactive waste intended for disposal. The costs associated with the search, safe delivery, transport, storage, conditioning and disposal of radioactive material of unknown origin are borne by the state.

With respect to social responsibility, it is necessary to guarantee immediate transport and safe management of radioactive and nuclear waste of unknown origin in order to avoid putting people’s lives in danger as well as spreading these materials in the environment (including secondary contamination of other materials). This requires significant expenses and legal certainty of the reimbursement of these costs. The National Nuclear Fund is a guarantee of the coverage of these costs. The Fund reimburses the operating costs of IRAW and RMUO, and the costs associated with collection, treatment, storage of radioactive materials of unknown origin from the subsidy of the Ministry of Economy of the SR intended for this purpose. These costs are part of the state budget. The total amount spent for these activities by the National Nuclear Fund until the end of 2018 amounts to € 4.08 million.