On April 5 a senior U.S. diplomat said “The Obama administration held informal talks with Mongolia about the possibility that the Central Asian nation might host an international repository for its region’s spent nuclear fuel (see GSN, March 9, 2010). “U.S. Energy Department officials and their counterparts in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia are in the early stages of discussion and there has been no determination yet about whether to proceed with the idea”, said Richard Stratford, who directs the U.S. State Department’s Nuclear Energy,Safety and Security Office, informed Global Security Newswire.
The publication entitled ‘Mongolia Might Store Foreign Spent Nuclear Fuel’,’ was placed with translation in many Mongolian press and news websites. The Nuclear Energy Agency of Mongolia denied this information. A statement released by NEA reads, “There has not been any talks on this issue with a foreign organization, administration or individuals and NEA considers no legal grounds exist to conduct such talks. Article 4.1 of Mongolia’s Law on exporting and banning import and trans-border shipments of dangerous waste asserts to ban the import of dangerous waste to Mongolia with a purpose to exploit, store,deposit temporarily and eliminate. Also Article 4.2 of the law asserts banning trans-border shipment of dangerous waste through Mongolian border.”
NEA Deputy Head Ts. Damdinsuren said, “There have not been any talks made through official lines. We read it in the newspaper. I don’t know about it.No matter what, I would like to say that there have not been any official talks or agreements to store spent nuclear fuel in Mongolian territory. The law clearly asserts banning trans-border shipment of dangerous waste through Mongolia’s border, but there is a clause to allow exports. We will obey what the law says.This is not the first time such talks were alleged. There was similar talk in 2000 when a law on radioactive materials was adopted. There was a rumor spread that the waste of radioactive materials would be brought from Taiwan and South Korea.”
As Mongolia does not have a nuclear power plant, there is no spent nuclear fuel.However, when radioactive generators commonly-used in hospitals, agriculture and geology are depleted, they are stored in an Isotope cabinet. “How to resolve dangerous nuclear waste becomes a main pressing issue the whole world faces.
Nuclear power plants have facilities to temporarily store their nuclear waste. For example, Fukushima nuclear plant has a pool to store fuel. Spent fuel emits certain heat; therefore, it is cooled by water.Nuclear plants stores their spent fuel inside for some years and transfer it into dry storage. It also stores it near the plant.
There has not been longer storage in the world and the plants store it for 50-60 years in its storing constructions. Longerterm storage is said to be some hundreds of years, but there has not yet been such technological solution anywhere in the world. It means that there is no solution in the world to eliminate and store spent nuclear fuel. However, there is a study to build a construction to bury spent fuel in Semiplatinsk where nuclear tests in Kazakhstan were conducted. To do this,many studies have been carried out, such as active earthquake zones, and biological structures and conditions. For Mongolia,there is no study on the possibility to store nuclear waste,” said Ts. Tumendelger, Director of the Isotope cabinet at the NEA.
Foreign Ministry denies nuclear waste rumors
On April 5, the Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a press statement concerning recent reports published in some media about storing spent nuclear fuel in Mongolian territory. It reads, “Article 4.1 of Mongolia’s Law on banning import and transit
of dangerous waste through Mongolia asserts to ban the import of dangerous waste to Mongolia with a purpose to exploit, store,deposit temporarily and eliminate.
Also, Article 4.2 of the law asserts banning transit transportation of dangerous waste through Mongolia’s border. Moreover, article 3.1.22 of Mongolia’s nuclear energy law describing the burial of nuclear waste concerned waste that originates from Mongolia only.
The statement officially reports that the Government of Mongolia has not had any talks to host a repository for foreign spent nuclear fuel in Mongolia’s territory within frames of cooperation with foreign countries in the nuclear sector.”