In 1986, Ukraine experienced a major nuclear accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant (NPP); over three decades later, this event continues to define Ukraine’s waste management situation. Today, radioactive waste at the Chornobyl NPP site and surrounding exclusion zone constitutes over 98% of total solid radioactive waste.
Spent nuclear fuel is excluded from this figure as it has special legal status and is not considered to be radioactive waste. Following Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, it’s institutional system to manage nuclear waste problems has continually changed and has not reached the state of clear responsibilities and distribution of roles between various institutions. However, the need for this clarity is recognized by experts and proposals have been made to centralize the management system. EU and IAEA funding enables research on the waste management system most suitable for Ukraine, including deep geological disposal (DGD), regulatory system improvements and physical infrastructure. Adaptation of the Ukrainian standards and practices to the European standards will be accelerated in view of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. Because of the ongoing military conﬂict with Russia, Ukraine lost control over its research reactor in Sevastopol and the nuclear waste collection center in Donetsk.
Too much to handle: Radioactive waste management in the post nuclear accident country Ukraine (PDF)