Nuclear safety has been a prioritised area for the international collaboration in the Barents Region since the beginning. Since the first Russian nuclear submarine was launched in 1957, approximately 250 nuclear powered submarines have been built in Russia. About two thirds of these submarines have been delivered to the Northern Fleet. As a result of the age of the submarines and arms agreements more than 120 of this submarines are today taken out of service, many of them still have the spent nuclear fuel in their reactors.
The laid-up submarines and storages of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, the Kola nuclear power plant, the civilian nuclear powered icebreakers and its service vessels cause the greatest concerns for health, industrial activity and environment.
Solid and liquid radioactive waste are stored at several bases and naval yards at the Kola Peninsula and in Severodvinsk. In common for these places is that the storage capacity to large degree has been filled up, and that waste is being stored in open air.
A main task for the Russians is to build safe storages and depositories for all types of waste from civilian and military sources. This is a costly and time-consuming task. Some of the waste comes from operation and maintenance of the nuclear icebreaker fleet and Kola nuclear power station, but a lot also comes from military activity.
In this connection the decommissioned nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet pose a special problem. The submarines have been left unprepared, because of lack of storage for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, and many of the boats have high-active spent fuel in their reactors. These represent a real contamination risk and must be taken care of in a responsible way. In addition comes accumulation of large quantities of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in the Northern Fleet technical bases, such as in Andreyev bay and on board service vessels.
Articles on the nuclear safety in the BarentsObserver
Naval bases, spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, on-going safety projects, unofficial homepage of the Russian navy
Atomflot - nuclear powered icebreakers
Kola Nuclear Power Plant
- Facts about the reactors - Wikipedia
Articles about nuclear safety in Northwestern Russia: