Several hundred waste packages are transported to and subsequently stored at this repository each year. The waste consists solely of institutional waste, i.e. discarded radioactive emitters (fire alarms, flow meters, etc.) and contaminated debris, plastic materials, paper and so on.
Several storage chambers have been set aside for the storage of waste which has a higher activity level than permitted by the limits and conditions set out for storage at the Richard repository. Such waste consists for example of used radiotherapeutic sources discarded by hospitals and is being stored until it complies with standard storage conditions or prior to transfer to the future deep geological repository. Only that waste that has been processed into the prescribed form and does not contain amounts of radionuclides that exceed the permitted levels can be stored at the repository. The criteria that must be met for waste storage, the limits set and the conditions for storage at the Richard repository have been approved by the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB). From 2017, one storage chamber will be earmarked for the storage of waste containing only naturally occurring radionuclides.
SÚJB and Czech State Mining Administration personnel are responsible for the inspection of compliance with the limits and conditions set for the safe operation of the Richard repository nuclear facility and ensuring compliance with nuclear safety, mine safety, radiation protection and other criteria prescribed by legislation; such inspections are performed several times per year. Emergency preparation exercises are conducted at the repository on a regular basis and the repository is monitored in accordance with the official monitoring programme.
The EC Phare project as evidence of the legitimacy of the proposed repository closure method
In the period 2005 - 2007 the Richard repository hosted the EC Phare project conducted with the participation of an international research team. The aim of the project was to verify a method proposed for the final closure of radioactive waste disposal chambers. Several storage chambers at the facility have been reconstructed and filled with waste which originated from the first decade of repository operation. Individual package assemblies were removed from their original sites, inspected and, if deemed necessary, transferred to new containers and placed in new storage chambers. Individual chambers were then backfilled with concrete. For the purpose of the long-term monitoring of the quality of the concrete used, samples were taken from every batch of concrete delivered to the facility; the samples are stored near to the sealed chambers. The concrete samples are subjected to compressive strength testing at an accredited laboratory at regular intervals; testing is scheduled to continue for the next 40 years. The results of the tests conducted to date demonstrate the high quality and durability of the concrete mixtures employed. With respect to the monitoring of the potential inflow of water into the repository, a drainage system has been constructed in the vicinity of the sealed chambers which directs water into inspection wells. To date, no water has been detected in the water capture bottles placed within the inspection wells.
Waste storage in figures
The total amount of space used in the Richard II mine exceeds 19,000 cubic metres. The capacity of the storage chambers is 10,250 cubic metres, of which around 70% has already been filled.