Spent fuel storage barge on fire

Publish date: December 17, 1999

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Submarine spent fuel storage barge catches fire in the Pacific.

The PM-80 storage barge for submarine spent nuclear fuel caught fire. Four cabins were destroyed. The fire was caused by an electric short circuit. The barge (Project 326) is based at Primorye in the Russian Far East and belongs to the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The information about the incident was reported by the local daily Vladivostok with a reference to unofficial sources in the Pacific Fleet. PM-80 was built in 1964 and has been taken out of service. The barge had reportedly around 100 spent fuel assemblies onboard. The fire was put out by the crew and led to no casualties.

The Russian Navy has eight Project-326 barges split evenly between the Northern and Pacific Fleet. Each barge is capable of holding 80 containers for a total of 560 spent fuel assemblies. The barges are also outfitted with three storage tanks for liquid radioactive waste. The total volume is 230 cubic meters. The average age of the barges is more than 30 years.