Nuclear wastes piling up at Kola

Spent nuclear fuel generated by nuclear-powered submarines and civilian nuclear ice-breakers, is forwarded to the Mayak plant for reprocessing. There are two loading locations in the North of Russia – the "Atomflot" base in Murmansk, and one in Severodvinsk. Until 1993 an average of 10 annual shipments to Siberia counted up to 586 special containers with spent fuel. Since 1994 the number of transportations has been drastically reduced, due to financial and technical reasons.

In 1996 there were four used fuel transports from Murmansk and three from Severodvinsk. The last transportation from Murmansk took place at the end of October, while the Severodvinsk shipment was performed in the end of December. Both the latter trains carried spent fuel from laid-up submarines awaiting decommissioning.

The Bellona Foundation estimates that 320 reactor cores wil be accumulated at the Northern Fleet by the year 2000. The last eleven shipments comprised no more than 23 reactor cores, fulfilling only the acute needs for used fuel storage capacity. Based on this, a number of experts propose placing some of the used fuel in intermediate storage (50-60 years) in the region. This proposal is further justified by the fact that Mayak surroundings are heavily contaminated by radioactive pollution after years of reprocessing; further activities at the plant can only increase the problems.

References:

Alexey Klimov, with reference to Severodvinsk Gosatomnadzor, 1997-03-04
"Severny Rabochy", 1997-01-29 and 1996-12-25
"Vecherny Murmansk", 1996-10-31
"Murmansky Vestnik", 1996-10-22
Nilsen, T., Kudrik, I., Nikitin, A. The Russian Northern Fleet – sources to radioactive contamination, Bellona report no.2:96.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no