Specialized Division Permanent Repository for Radioactive Waste – Novi Han
The Permanent Repository for Radioactive Waste (PRRAW) is situated near the village of Novi Han, municipality of Elin Pelin. It was established in the late 50’s and the early 60’s of the XX century in accordance with the country’s legislation in effect.
The repository was designed for storage of radioactive waste resulting from the application of radioactive sources in medicine – for diagnostics and treatment, as well as in industry, science and education.
Since its commissioning in 1964, until 2006, the Permanent Repository for Radioactive Waste – Novi Han was managed by the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in accordance with the country’s legislation and with the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency – Vienna.
The purpose of the repository, as well as of all similar facilities in each country, is to ensure safe management of the waste in the long run. Currently the repository provides safe storage for radioactive waste generated over the last 48 years. They are stored in appropriate multi-barrier facilities – shafts, concrete containers, high-load capacity containers.
In the last years, the repository has been modernized through construction of installations for processing and storage of radioactive waste. Such modernization aims for safer RAW management. With the commissioning of the new facilities, the waste stored on the site of the Permanent Repository will be processed and loaded into packages, which comply with the latest safety requirements. This will allow transportation of the waste collected on the site of Novi Han to the National Repository Facility upon its commissioning in 2015.
The Novi Han Repository is subject to continuous inspection – both the site and the adjacent environment. The control is performed by the operator – State Enterprise Radioactive Waste, as well as by the state inspection authorities – the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and Waters. The monitoring results show that the facility is managed in a way which is safe for the people and the environment.
In the autumn of 2008, a team from New Bulgarian University conducted an independent study of the region in order to provide more information to the people from the nearby towns and villages. The study concluded that the repository did not pollute the environment and posed no risk to the region’s population.
The Hot Cell in the Novi Han Permanent Repository
In pursuance of the Strategy for Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste on the site of the Specialized Division PRRAW – Novi Han, a new modern installation was built during the last few years – a Hot Cell.
The project value is approximately two million BGN, and the funding was provided through the PHARE programme.
From a technical point of view the installation is of the latest generation of this type and it is designed for treatment with Sources of Ionizing Radiation (SIR) with activity of up to 500 TBq. The hot cell will be used for the needs of the input control, which includes
air-tightness control and activity assessment of unknown SIR.
Special radiation protection, in accordance with the competent authorities, was achieved within the project framework. It guaranties full safety of the operating personnel and the environment.
The hot cell, as a unique and expensive facility, has received its own license for operation with SIR, for the purposes of technical maintenance, assembly and disassembly, measurement etc; for reloading of gamma-radiation equipment, flaw detectors and others with highly active SIR (Co-60,Cs-137, Ir-192 etc.), which will allow the rendering of services to external customers in the fields of medicine, industry and agriculture.