Swedish Radiation Safety Authority leading EU project in Georgia for management of radioactive waste

In the form of a two-year EU project, Georgia is the recipient of EUR 1 million for national efforts to manage radioactive waste. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority coordinates this project. At present, the Authority is conducting an international procurement process for the design of a processing facility and an interim storage facility in Georgia.

Georgia has a legacy from the Soviet era, with waste in the form of radioactive sources, radioactive material, and sites contaminated by radioactive substances. In the early 2000s, the country ran a campaign to promote identification and collection of radioactive waste. As of 2013, Georgia launched work on compliance with fundamental international requirements, such as for a legal framework in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection, and the creation of an independent government agency and an organisation responsible for dealing with the waste. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has been working together with the regulator in Georgia for several years now.

“This partnership has allowed us to provide Georgia with assistance on developing a national strategy for management of all its radioactive waste, and in 2016, the Georgian government adopted this strategy. It was in connection with these efforts that the EU took notice of us and asked if we would be interested in implementing a bigger project in Georgia,” explains Björn Dverstorp, a senior specialist on geological disposal. Mr Dverstorp works at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s Office for International Relations, a secretariat that has been involved in the project work in Georgia since its launch.

Now that Georgia is considered to comply with fundamental requirements, the EU has approved the amount of EUR 1 million, which is to be used for a two-year project. Its purpose is to site and develop a preliminary design for a processing facility and an interim storage facility for radioactive waste. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority is coordinating this project in collaboration with Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and is at the same time contributing one-sixth of the total funding.

“It is fairly unique to have a regulator lead this kind of project. Apart from project management and facilitating, our experts are assisting as advisers and support for Georgia’s radiation safety authority,” says Christopher Walden, a project manager at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s Office for International Relations.

Starting nine months ago, this project has mapped the presence of Georgia’s radioactive waste, and a proposal has been made for siting of an interim storage facility and a processing facility. In accordance with EU requirements for transparency, Georgia has been assisted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s environmental law expert to arrange hearings. At these hearings, the public and stakeholders discussed and commented on the proposal. The next step is to develop a design for these facilities.

“We are now conducting an international procurement process for the design of the interim storage facility and processing facility. This could be expressed as our transitioning from a strategy into taking action as part of this project,” says Mr Walden.

The end product of the project is a preliminary design for a future waste storage site and a decision in principle from the government demonstrating its intention to proceed with construction of this site. Discussions are also in progress on continuation of the project, which is to be decided on by the EU this autumn.

For more information, please contact: Christopher Walden, Project Manager, Office for International Relations, via the Authority’s duty press officer, Tel. +46 8 799 40 20.