Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant radioactive dumps

Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant radioactive dumps

The now-defunct Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant (Ukrainian: Придніпровський хімічний завод, ПХЗ; Prydniprovsky khimichnyi zavod, PHZ) in the city of Dniprodzerzhynsk, Ukraine, has been enriching uranium ores for Soviet nuclear program from 1948 till 1991, preparing the so-called Yellowcake substance.

Its processing wastes are now stored in 9 open-air dumping grounds containing about 36 million tones of sand-like low-radioactive residue, occupying area of 2,5 million square meters. The sites, improperly constructed from the very beginning, have been abandoned by industry long ago and remain in very poor condition. The top concern is the dumps’ closeness to both the large Dnieper River and city residential areas. According to government experts, the dams separating the grounds from soil water are already leaking, causing the pollution of Dnieper basin. It is believed that further deterioration of the dams, irrespective of any outer accidents, may cause a devastating radioactive mudslide. Ukrainian government is now tightening control over the grounds and seeking international aid in projects, aimed at securing and gradual re-processing PHZ wastes. Recently, the International Atomic Energy Agency has evaluated the condition of the sites and is considering dispatching a major observation&aid mission to Dniprodzerzhynsk.

The isolated dump grounds (about nine altogether, at a depth of 3 m) of the former plant are now located in different parts of the city and operated by the purposely-created "Barrier" State Enterprise - with an obscure-meaning new name that has yet to be widely known. That is why the sites, the company, and the whole problem is still commonly referred to as the "Prydniprovsky Chemical Plant (PHZ) wastes".

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