Special activities developed by the “Radiological Protection Technical Unit” of ENRESA

FULL VERSION
ENRESA, the Spanish Radioactive Waste Management Company, was founded in 1984 as a public and non-profit entity with the essential public mission of: collect, treat, condition and store the radioactive waste generated in the Spanish installations.

Different installations are currently operated by ENRESA:

  • “El Cabril” radioactive waste disposal facility, located in Hornachuelos, Córdoba.
  • José Cabrera NPP, located in Almonacid de Zorita, Guadalajara. ENRESA is the responsible of the dismantling project.
  • Vandellós I NPP dismantling project in Tarragona.
  • The dismantling of Santa Maria de Garoña NPP will start shortly and ENRESA will also be involve on it.

Additionally to these activities, Enresa provides other services that allow the optimal management of all radioactive materials in disuse. One of these services is the Radiological Protection Technical Unit (UTPR), created in 1990. The UTPR personnel works in the company’s headquarters in Madrid and gives service around all the country.

The ENRESA UTPR also carries out all those activities that were stablished by the Spanish Regulatory Body (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear) in the CSN Plenary Resolution dated on 10-10-2010, that modifies the ENRESA UTPR authorization and those derived from the CSN Guide 7.3  “Principles for the radiological protection services and technical units establishment”

The usual activities of the UTPR include all those associated with the removal of waste from radioactive facilities, including the review of removal requests, and requests from unregulated facilities and the metal industry.

It also includes the removal of sources, through transfer resolutions, once the orphan source removal campaign has ended, the venting of Kr-85 sources, monitoring tasks for the removal of lightning rod arresters and activities of control prior to removal of disassembled sources of ionic smoke detectors.

Throughout the years, exceptional situations have been occurred.  Non routinely activities have been developed by the UTPR :

  • Spent fuel condition and removal from experimental reactors
  • Cobalt heads removal (radioactive source) from the cobalt therapy equipment
  • orphan sources location and removal (without regulatory control)
  • Thorium used in valves, lenses and other military equipment identification and removal
  • Painted materials or radioluminescence materials with H-3 or Radio in its composition
  • Radioactive lightning rods removal and management as radioactive waste
  • Pacemaker with Pu-238 battery management.

Example of the removal of a radioactive lightning rod in the church of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Every day new situations should be faced by the UTPR. Radioactive material and orphan sources are detected in different parts of the country, for example in the scrap metal that arrived to the sea ports. These situations, together with the different campaigns to remove lightning rods or orphan sources, have been expanding and diversifying the activities of the UTPR, most of them are still ongoing, although all of these activities have not involved any radiological risk for personnel involved.

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