Depleted uranium hexafluoride (ollu) is a valuable raw material or radioactive waste? Comprehensive expert answer to this fundamental question was given by the videoconference, organized by the Public Council of Rosatom state Corporation, environmental and legal centre “Bellona”. Its participants – ecologists, engineers, physicists, lawyers, bloggers, official representatives of the state Corporation “Rosatom” – has managed in less than two hours to eliminate the information gap, the acute shortage of knowledge which exists in the management of OGPU. Draw a line under a difficult and sometimes painful debate, largely associated with the resumption of 2019 transportation OGPU with the German uranium enrichment factory at Gronau on the enterprises of “Rosatom” in our country.

In the narrow-minded, amateurish level of nuclear technology are often perceived as a potential scourge, a threat to humanity. And – with questionable benefit. However, the threat does not mean useless, but useful – not so dangerous, says Alexey Ekidin, leading researcher of the Institute of industrial ecology of Ural branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Electric energy, no doubt, useful, but also dangerous, if you break the rules of it. The same can be said about road transport. OGPU is no exception,” says Ekidin.

Review the report, entitled “Depleted uranium hexafluoride (present situation, issues of safe handling and prospects)” was prepared in order to understand the issue of the treatment of OGPU and to dispel the myths surrounding fears that exist in society.. Work on it required expert efforts of many organizations – educational, scientific, and environmental. Participated in the training and activists of the regions on the territory of which is stored and processed OGPU. The authors in an accessible form tried to explain what is and where does depleted uranium hexafluoride, what properties it has, what purpose it imported as used and stored at the enterprises of the nuclear industry, and what standards and technologies are applied when handling this substance. In fact, as noted by Alexey Edicin, the authors were able not only to collect literally bit by bit rather complex information, but also to adapt it to the level of understanding of the General public.

the Main point around which the rage of passion: what ollu – useful raw materials or radioactive waste? In the latter case the claims of those who claim the illegality of the import of OGPU from abroad to Russia, turned out to be unfounded. The fact that according to the Federal law of 21.11.1995 № 170-FZ “On nuclear energy use” of radioactive waste are “not subject to further use m��materials and substances, content of radionuclides exceeding the levels set in accordance with the criteria established by the Government of the Russian Federation” (p. 8. V. 3). Ollu is the raw material in recycling of the nuclear industry and is subject to further processing.

If purely scientifically, the uranium hexafluoride is a compound of hexavalent uranium and fluorine (UF6). Under normal conditions it remains in the solid state (1.7 times higher than the density of lead) and in different forms – from particles such as rock salt to a continuous solid mass. But if quite simple, it is nuclear material, by-product of uranium enrichment.

“OGPU – a valuable raw material, and it is recognized not only Russian but also foreign specialists. In particular, uranium hexafluoride has found application in different industries. It serves as a source of fluorine for the chemical industry,” says engineer and physicist, member of the Public Council of Rosatom Oleg Muratov.

moreover, according to Muratov, the domestic gas centrifuge technology of uranium enrichment is so effective that allows you to use OGPU as a secondary resource in the manufacture of fuel for nuclear power plants with fast neutron reactors. We are talking about depleted uranium increased from the natural uranium isotope 235U. As for the question of interest to many storage OGPU, today the world has accumulated more than 2 million tons of this substance, including over 1 million tonnes in Russia. The vast majority of this volume is stored in a special sealed steel containers in open areas of the separation plants. Storage recognized scientists, experts and environmentalists are perfectly safe.

In Russia it is four enterprises of separation-sublimation complex of the fuel company “TVEL”: JSC “Ural electrochemical plant” (Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk region), JSC “Production Association Electrochemical plant” (Zelenogorsk, Krasnoyarsk region), JSC “Siberian chemical combine” (Seversk, Tomsk oblast) and JSC “Angarsk electrolysis chemical complex (Angarsk, Irkutsk oblast).

In case of depressurization of the container main risk is leakage of OGPU in the environment: reacts with air moisture, it becomes a toxic substance. Meanwhile, over the past 45 years we know about about ten PE containers containing solid uranium hexafluoride. The majority of incidents were caused by corrosion. Significant consequences, i.e., death or extensive contamination of territories, followed. Radiation hazard OGPU is not. For the development of the domestic economy, OGPU important because we have uranium deposits are very small, or they emergency.Oh dear, said the Advisor to the General Director of JSC “Techsnabexport” Oleg Kozin. And, of course, he concluded, geksaftorida uranium is no waste, and unique raw material, extremely demanded in several industries. In fact, the import of radioactive waste into Russia is prohibited even not one, but three laws, and since 1990-ies in our country have not got a single gram, says, in turn, a member of the Public Council of Rosatom state Corporation Valery Menshikov.

the conference also agreed that in addressing issues of safe handling of OGPU it is necessary to create conditions for public control related processes. We can talk about such forms as the public examination, monitoring, assessment. In General, there is no limit to perfection. In the meantime, we managed to take an important step to meet people – most simple words to tell about what is uranium hexafluoride, summed up the conversation General Director of environmental law center “Bellona” Alexander Nikitin.