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Mazhilis approves establishment of Low-Enriched Uranium Bank in Ust-Kamenogorsk

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The Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan has approved the draft law On Ratification of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency on establishing the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium Bank.

International Low-Enriched Uranium Bank will be established under the auspices of International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel to the nuclear power plants of IAEA member states; it is a repository of low-enriched uranium, which is a starting material for the production of fuel for nuclear power plants located in one of the IAEA member states, Minister of Energy Kanat Bozumbayev said introducing the draft law.

In 2006, the IAEA decided to establish the Low-Enriched Uranium Bank and listed requirements for operator country. The country should have a non-nuclear status, technology and experience in this part of nuclear cycle, with appropriate infrastructure, IAEA trust, and system-launch control.

Kazakhstan possesses all these qualities, first of all, due to experience gained. The Republic of Kazakhstan is the largest uranium producer and, having a capacity of processing highly enriched uranium into the low-enriched form, intends to contribute to development of peaceful nuclear energy. Kazakhstan has carried out certain works by the initiative of the Head of State, and on July 29, 2011, the Republic of Kazakhstan submitted to the IAEA an official application on the intention to locate the International Low-Enriched Uranium Bank on its territory.

The application provided for two sites: Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk and No.5 site on the territory of former Semipalatinsk test site. On August 29 � September 2, 2011, the IAEA Technical Commission reviewed the sites; preference was given to Ulba Metalurgical Plant. The 65-year old enterprise has been for 45 years working with such materials.

The low-enriched uranium will be stored in the form of hexafluoride in the 30B European standard cylinder containers. Hexafluoride is the uranium fluoride that is stored in solid gaseous state at 70-degree temperature, ready for further processing to produce the fuel for nuclear power plants. On April 27, 2015, the Government approved the signing of an Agreement with the IAEA on establishing the low-enriched uranium bank. On August 27, 2015, the Agreement was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov on the Kazakh side and Director General Yukiya Amano on the IAEA side.

The project of establishing the low-enriched uranium bank involves the creation of reserve stock of fuel for nuclear power plants. The IAEA will be the owner of the uranium stored at the Bank, and the fuel will be under its control in its official legal possession. The Bank is not a source of permanent supply or a shop.

The uranium reserve, in fact, is a reserve stock that will be demanded only in case of world uranium markets crisis situation. The stock may be never required. The works on placing the IAEA nuclear material are currently under preparation.

There have been produced over 20 IAEA technical missions with participation of international experts specializing in various aspects of nuclear safety. The missions resulted in extensive detailed recommendations on improving the legislation, regulatory framework, public infrastructure, management and security in the use of nuclear energy.

The recommendations aim at meeting the IAEA safety provision, which, in fact, guarantee the highest level of project safety both for the environment and population.

During elaboration of a draft law On the Use of Atomic Energy, which was adopted in this-year January, the world-class lawyers gave significant recommendations included in this draft law.

Also a range of draft bylaws was analyzed by the IAEA experts, and their recommendations were applied in these documents preparation.

According to Vice Minister of Energy B. Dzhaksaliyev, the Ulba Metallurgical Plants facilities have been modernized. The IAEA decision on placing the Bank on this site indicates recognized highest level of safety of the plant, which meets the strictest international criteria on the workers classification and experience, the quality of work and the enterprise.

Source: Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan

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