The radioactively contaminated area will be zoned on the basis of its possible usage scenarios
The State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management (SAUEZM) has developed a draft law harmonizing the zoning of the Exclusion Zone with safety regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and when speaking in the Ukrainian parliament, Oleksandr Kovalchuk, Acting Chairman of the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, requested MPs to support this initiative, Ukrainian Energy reports.
“The revision of legal regime of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone would ensure efficient use of this area. Our agency has developed a draft law concerning the zoning of radioactively contaminated area based on its possible usage scenarios. The passage of this law would ensure harmonization of contaminated area zoning criteria with IAEA’s international safety regulations,” Mr. Kovalchuk said.
He also revealed the priority areas of the Exclusion Zone’s development.
“Presently, we have defined the following prospective areas of the Exclusion Zone’s development: first of all, it’s safety. This is our most important goal, at which the efforts of companies located and operating within the Exclusion Zone are aimed. It also includes monitoring, radiation control, safe handling of radioactive waste, decommissioning of Chornobyl NPP, and maintaining the area in a fire-safe state,” Mr. Kovalchuk said.
Secondly, he continues, the Exclusion Zone is one of the world’s most recognizable tourist attraction.
“Chornobyl proved itself as a good image-wise and economically beneficial region of Ukraine. It is worth noting that since the beginning of 2019, the Exclusion Zone received almost 120 thousand visitors, 80% of whom were foreigners. Our agency is continuously developing the area’s infrastructure and preparing new routes,” SAUEZM Acting Chairman said.
Thirdly, SAUEZM has plans to develop the Chornobyl Natural Preserve.
“Today, this is the largest biosphere preserve in Ukraine. It serves as the natural buffer between a radioactively contaminated area and the rest of the Ukrainian territory,” Mr. Kovalchuk said.
He also added that his agency has developed a draft law concerning the functioning and the environmental protection regime of the Chornobyl Natural Preserve, which is intended to fix legislative contradictions.
Mr. Kovalchuk urged the ministry concerned and the parliament to support his lawmaking initiatives.
It is worth reminding that the government has re-announced the contest for selection of the SAUEZM Chairman. Ukrainian Energy has learned that on Friday, 15 November, the government also dismissed the SAUEZM Acting Chairman Volodymyr Feshchenko, temporarily replacing him with Oleksandr Kovalchuk.
On 14 October, the government dismissed the previous head of the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, Vitali Petruk, and announced a contest for the vacant position. The highest number of points at this contest was scored by Kateryna Pavlova, the head of International Cooperation and PR Section.
After the merger of the energy and ecology ministries, SAUEZM became subordinated to the newly-established Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection, which caused a conflict of interest : the ministry oversees enterprises producing radioactive waste, and SAUEZM handles this waste.
Specialized experts criticized the subordination of SAUEZM to the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection. Since a separate ministry responsible for ecology no longer exists, nuclear professionals suggest subordinating SAUEZM to the government.
Oleksii Orzhel, Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection suggested that in order to resolve the conflict of interest, the government may separate the radioactive waste handling department from the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management.