The State has already spent almost two billion CZK on the preparation of the radioactive waste repository. However, it still does not know where it should be created
Press Release on audit No 19/25 – 9 November 2020
The Supreme Audit Office examined the financial management of the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO, from Czech “Správa úložišť radioaktivních odpadů”) between the years 2014 and 2019. It also focused on expenditures connected with the preparation of a deep geological repository of radioactive waste. The preparation has been ongoing for more than 23 years and the SURAO has spent on it over CZK 1.8 billion so far. The date by which the final site is to be selected keeps being postponed. The reasons for the postponement are the opposition of the municipalities concerned and the fact that there is no law regulating their involvement in the selection of the site for the repository. The auditors did not find any serious errors in the management with state assets from the part of the SURAO.
Initially, two possible sites were to be identified for the radioactive waste repository by 2015. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has postponed this deadline several times up until the year 2022. The final site should be selected by the year 2025 and the deep geological repository should be created by the year 2065.
At the time of the SAO audit, a total of nine sites had been proposed. In January 2019, the MoIT was to limit the selection to four sites and submit it to the Government for approval. However, the MoIT did not do so by the end of the audit. However, the SURAO spent almost CZK 566 million in the years under review on the selection of the sites. According to the MoIT, the amount of relevant data was insufficient in order to reach a decision. Another reason was the opposition of the municipalities concerned towards the construction of the repository.
The fact that a site has not yet been selected for the repository is also affected by the fact that there is no law regulating the involvement of municipalities and their citizens in the selection of the site. The aim of the law should be to secure the interests of municipalities, strengthen their position, and clearly specify their role in the selection of the site for the deep geological repository. The draft objective of the Act was to be submitted to the Government by the MoIT in 2019, but this did not happen until May this year.
Moreover, between 2014 and 2017, the SURAO only planned tasks for the preparation of the repository in general, without specific steps for each year. Nor did it have a timetable and financial plan for each task. This shortcoming were already raised by the SAO in 2009. At the time, the Government instructed the MoIT and the SURAO to remedy the situation.
According to the SAO, the constant postponement of the deadline for the selection of the repository, the associated costs of new research works and the lack of specific activities in the research, and development plans of the SURAO entail a risk that the State will ultimately pay more for the preparation of the radioactive waste repository than it would have had to.
According to the auditors, expenditures on the Bukov underground research site are also problematic. This site is intended to serve as a test site to study the behaviour of rocks in the same depth in which the repository will be established in the future. The SURAO has already paid over CZK 506 million for the construction, operation, and research programme of this site. Of this, a total of CZK 444 million was paid to the State-owned enterprise DIAMO for the preparatory work, construction and operation of the research site.
A further almost CZK 2.3 billion are planned to be issued by the MoIT and the SURAO by 2030 for the operation and extension of the research site. Both the SURAO and the MoIT have several studies and assessments which highlight the vagueness of the research experimental programme in Bukov. According to studies, its technical set-up or the non-transferability of research results and the geological diversity of the site represent a weakness. The technical, financial and staffing connection between the research site and the Rožná Mine is also problematic. The Rožná Mine is the property of the State and is managed by the State-owned enterprise DIAMO. The SURAO thus partially pays the operating costs of DIAMO.
Supreme Audit Office