Environmental protection

Whether nuclear energy is needed or not is a strongly debated issue. Nowadays, both in Hungary and abroad increasing attention is paid by the media to the future of the energy power industry. Mankind’s demand for energy is constantly increasing, while the Earth’s hydrocarbon reserves are getting depleted at a fast pace. Fossil fuels that were formed during milliards of years will be depleted within a few decades and meanwhile we have to face such new hazardous phenomena as the greenhouse effect, acid rains and the ozone hole.

The present-day state and development of science and technology offer limited possibilities for the use of renewable energy sources such as wind, water and solar energy.

Nuclear power plants – provided they are built on the basis of the highest affordable safety standards – appear to be more economically efficient and clean compared to other power plants using traditional fuels.

Fuel consumption and discharge of contaminants by different types of power plants (1000 MW power, annual utilisation of 6600 hours (75 per cent), totally for the case of 6600 GW electricity production per annum, in tonnes)

  Coal-fired power plants Lignite-fired power plants Oil-fired power plants Natural gas-fired power plants (CCGT) Nuclear power plants
Fuel consumption 2 000 000 7 600 000 1 289 768 920 000 21
Oxygen consumption 3 800 000 4 800 000 3 270 047 1 600 000 0
CO2 emissions 5 200 000 6 600 000 4 496 314 2 200 000 0
SO2 emissions 3 800 4 300 3 134 1 200 0
Nitrogen oxides 3 800 4 300 3 134 3 500 0
Dust 600 640 470 200 0
Ashes 150 000 950 000 2 000 0 0

Paks Nuclear Power Plant occupies a territory bounded by two major national parks, the Duna-Dráva National Park and the Kiskunság National Park. Even despite the human intervention, the immediate surroundings of the power plant are rich in natural resources. This territory provides habitat area for sandy, uliginous, moor-like and forest plants (known as Old and New Brinyó), for the alder marsh-moor forest, for wooded pasture in Dunaszentgyörg and numerous protected animals and plants in the vicinity of the Danube near Paks.

Under the impact of hot water in-flow, the quantity of biomass in the Danube is higher compared to up-stream parts. The animal life within a few-kilometres of the area effected by the in-flow represents one of the richest ranges of fauna in the region. Different water fowls find nutrition here, especially when the nearby lakes freeze up during the winter.

The nuclear power plant plays a significant role in the maintenance of an exemplary fishing paradise created next to the plant’s fence and provides for the continuous water replenishment in the lakes. The total area suitable for fishing is about 55 hectares. Lake Kondor with its here and there 7-metre-deep water, with old trees surrounding the lakeshores, bushy and bulrush banks, offers an ideal habitat area for water and land plants, and animal life. The environment surrounding the lakes is also strictly protected.

The most famous recreation and holiday area in Tolna county, the Danube backwater, is located in Fadd-Dombori, at a distance of about 20 km from the nuclear power plant. Every summer thousands of people seeking relaxation come to this area rich in natural beauty and consisting of hundreds of summer cottages and community facilities. A system of channels created with the help of the nuclear power plant has given new life to the backwater that was close to devastation in the recent past. Again we can see here the nests of herons, purple herons, goshawks and common buzzards, and in addition we can also encounter larger animals, such as roe deer, fallow deer and wild boar.

The results of the environmental analysis and examinations are composed of the measurement results received by remote environmental measurement stations and laboratory examinations of the large volume of natural samples (grass, soil, fish, surface and ground water, etc.). Applied methods of sampling, processing and measuring has ensured the determination of extremely low radioactive concentrations. In the course of environmental analysis and examinations it was discovered that the nuclear power plant’s operation has no negative impact on the environment, while the emissions of air-contaminating substances do not constitute a danger, even to the immediate environment of the plant.

Considering various parameters such as temperature, oxygen indicators, individual micro contaminations, oil and domestic sewage, the water used by the nuclear power plant is characterised by the values typical for the average contamination levels of the Danube water.

Waste management

Waste management is carried out as planned, with the primary purpose being the transfer of waste for recycling. For instance, more than 90% of industrial waste is recycled.

MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant Ltd. operates an environment-oriented management system, the basic component of which is the continuous improvement of environmental protection activities.

The most important issue with regard to the waste management by the nuclear power plant concerns the appropriate storage and disposal of radioactive waste. Radioactive waste with low and medium activity levels originating at the plant are placed for final disposal in the National Radioactive Waste Repository in Bátaapáti.

There are several approaches in respect of safe handling of spent fuel assemblies; however, an intermediate storage is unavoidable. Due to technical reasons, an intermediate storage is always necessary at the beginning of activities connected with spent nuclear fuel. This period is characterised by a significant decrease of the radiation and heat production by spent fuel rods, which facilitates the performance of further operations.

Spent fuel assemblies are transferred to the Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility (KKÁT).

For further information see: http://www.rhk.hu/

The tasks of the nuclear power plant in respect of nuclear environmental protection include monitoring of the plant’s radioactive emissions, determination of their composition, and continuous monitoring of the environmental radiation conditions of natural and artificial origin.

Measurements proved that there was no immediate measurable impact of the nuclear power plant on the radiation conditions of the environment. Based on the above, it can be concluded that the contribution of the plant’s emissions to the exposure dose rate affecting the population accounts for a thousandth part of the official limit and a ten thousandth part of the dose originating from background radiation.

Naturally occurring (2,4 mSv/year)
external cosmic 0,3 mSv
internal cosmic 0,015 mSv
external terrestrial 0,5 mSv
internal terrestrial 1,6 mSv
Artificially occurring           (0,4 mSv/year)
nuclear industry 0,0002 mSv
medical purposes 0,4 mSv
nuclear explosions 0,01 mSv

The nuclear power plant operated by responsible, well-trained and properly qualified personnel is a clean, environmentally friendly facility. It does not consume any oxygen and does not emit carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dust, ashes or slurry. Consequently, it does not contribute to the intensification of greenhouse gases leading to global warming.