PRESS STATEMENT - storage and evacuation of irradiated materials - 2018 13th dec
The Institute for Radioelements (IRE) is responsible for the chemical treatment of medical radioisotopes in order to administrate them to patients. The residues resulting from this chemical process, which are still highly enriched, must then be stored and evacuated.
These irradiated materials are stored in special containers on the IRE site in Fleurus. Given that the administrative storage capacity limit will be reached by the end of 2019 if the containers are not removed from the site, several measures have been taken by IRE.
On the one hand, several additional containers were purchased to allow storage of irradiated materials on site until 2021. This enables extending the physical storage capacity.
In order to validate this extension of storage capacity, a request was made in January 2018 to extend the administrative storage capacity. The AFCN scientific council has already given a favorable opinion on this request. Local consultations (communal and provincial) are in progress and will have to be decided by the end of 2018, before a second round to the Scientific Council at the beginning of 2019 for final opinion.
On the other hand, a structural solution has been found for the evacuation of irradiated materials through the RECUMO project (Recovery of Uranium from Mo99 Production). Born from the partnership between the Nuclear Energy Study Center (SCK • CEN) and IRE, this project will recover these rare and qualitative resources. The residues will be diluted with low enriched uranium and then purified by SCK • CEN to obtain a low-enriched high quality material. The RECUMO project is supported by the Belgian authorities and by the United States because it reduces the risk of proliferation in the world.