The two shipments of liquid radioactive waste (LRW) from the naval shipyards in Severodvinsk to the nuclear icebreaker base Atomflot in Murmansk amount to a total of 1,400 tons, nearby the maximum annual capacity of the cleaning facility at Atomflot. The first shipment of 700 tons of liquid radioactive waste is still on board the tanker Serebryanka, awaiting unloading at Atomflot. The challenge for Atomflot is the lack of onshore storage room for the waste. To ameliorate the situation, Atomflot may transfer some of the LRW to the Imandra, another vessel for storage of spent nuclear fuel, while the rest goes into onshore storage tanks.
The present cleaning facility at Atomflot has a total annual capacity of 1,500 tons. A new facility with a capacity of 5,000 tons is under construction, with financial assistance from Norway and USA. The new cleaning facility was intended to start its operation in 1996, but has been delayed several times for unknown reasons. Under the present time schedule, it will start operating in December this year, but many sources in Murmansk tell Bellona Web even this is unlikely. Norwegian officials says they might withdraw the economic aid to the new facility if its construction is not completed by the end of 1999.
When the new cleaning facility begins operating, the present one will be closed down. With a capacity of 5,000 tons of LRW annually it will cover the needs of both the civilian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet and the Navy’s Northern fleet.