“Chornobyl Orphaned Fissionable Materials Assessment”

Customer: Idaho National Laboratory (INL) operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, (Battelle Energy Alliance)

Objective: identification and documentation of information about orphaned fissionable materials and all other fissionable materials that cause concern and are still located within the Chornobyl exclusion zone and possibly on ChNPP site.

In 2013, in the course of the project:

  • ChC specialists took part in the project management structure development and in allocation of responsibilities among responsible executives;
  • the project action plan was developed and actual data on the work performed were registered using Microsoft Office Project software;
  • technical proposals on generation of OFM database were developed;
  • works to design an application module for OFM database were started;
  • terms of reference to design an application module for OFM database were developed;
  • database scheme structure was developed;
  • prototypes of the following modules were developed: Reference Modules, OFM Source Data, OFM Main Registries, Authorization, Localization;
  • necessary support to fulfill responsibilities of the project secretary was provided.

In 2014, in the course of the project:

  • development of AS OFM soft shell;
  • preparation of the database populated with primary sources and inventory data;
  • development of “AS OFM User Manual”;
  • development of “AS OFM Administrator Manual”;
  • preparation of the software package for installation files.

In 2015 within the framework of the project:

  • procedures for measurements and surveys of fission materials were developed and described;
  • gamma-scanning and geo-radar magnetometer surveys were carried out;
  • geodetic survey and electro-tomography of fission materials locations were carried out;
  • open test pits were made to define more precisely the design of objects and characteristics of preserved soil layers;
  • experimental drilling of surface and deep wells, their gamma-logging and measurements of absorbed doses in wells were conducted using the CRAD neutron counter;
  • samples of materials were taken in investigation wells at all objects; laboratory research of radionuclide content in these samples was carried out;
  • based on the results of the studies, the assessment of the potential presence of nuclear materials and their degree of proliferation hazard was made.

A final report on the project and proposals for further research were submitted to the Client.

In 2016, the program of instrumental survey of RWDS “Pidlisnyi” and the cooling pond was developed and the instrumental survey of the facilities was completed.

During the project activities, our experts identified and documented the areas within the exclusion zone that may contain fissionable materials, namely at RWDS “Pidlisnyi”, “ChNPP Delivery Stage 3”, on a site around the Shelter Object (with a radius of 300 m), at RWTLS “Stara Budbaza”; worked out the methods for detection and characterization of fissionable materials.

The neutron and gamma radiation measurement results allowed clearer identification of the ChNPP Unit 4 emergency fuel locations within the Chornobyl exclusion zone. Particularly, it was found out that no fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel are present at the radioactive waste temporary localization sites (RWTLS).

The project results were highly appreciated by the Customer.

In 2017 the Chornobyl Center jointly with SSE “CEMRW” and SSE “Chornobyl NPP” completed the project and received high appraisal of the work results from the Client. The final project meeting was held on 1-2 March, 2017. Within the framework of the project, the specialists identified and documented places which may contain fission materials within the Exclusion Zone, in particular, at RWDS “Pidlisnyi” and “3rd Stage of ChNPP”, at a site 300 m in radius around the Shelter Object, and RWTSP “Stara Budbasa”; and exercised methods of detection and characterization of such materials.

The work results were handed over to the Client.

Proposals for prospect activities on preparation and conduction of invasive research at RWDS “Pidlisnyi” were also sent to the Client. The respective research programme was developed. The document package was agreed on with the SNRIU.