Waste Characterisation and Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant

Quintessa has successfully completed a contract under EuropeAid's PHARE programme to improve the characterisation of radioactive waste at Cernavoda nuclear power plant (NPP) in Romania.

Cernavoda Unit 1 is Romania's only NPP. It is a 700 MWe CANDU 6 pressurized heavy water reactor that has been operating for over 10 years. Unit 1 is the first operational reactor on the site, which is being developed to support additional units.

Wastes had previously only been characterised according to contact dose rate, tritium content and a small number of gamma emitting radionuclides. Although this information is important for operational management of the waste, extra information about the content of longer-lived alpha- and beta-emitting radionuclides is needed to determine its safe management in the future.

Working closely with the excellent team at the NPP, Quintessa and our partners Decom (Slovakia), Jozef Stefan Institute (Slovenia), Mate-Fin (Romania) and WERT (Slovakia) have:

  • Reviewed waste characterisation at the NPP and best European practices;
  • Specified a new waste characterisation assay system and assisted in its procurement, installation and commissioning;
  • Developed reliable methodologies for radioactive waste characterisation;
  • Provided training to NPP staff and conducted a wider study tour;
  • Undertaken a campaign to characterise selected wastes; and
  • Assessed wastes based on their potential disposal route.

The successful outcome of the 18 month project has provided the site with a highly capable resource for radioactive waste characterisation that will be of major benefit to the efficient and optimised management of wastes in the future.