Italy to build nuclear waste ship for Russian Northern Fleet subs


Publish date: August 4, 2008

Written by: Charles Digges

Russia has signed a €70 million ($110 million) a with Italy for the construction of a nuclear waste transport ship that will bear spent nuclear fuel from Russian nuclear submarines in Russia’s Northern Fleet.

The waste ship falls under the aegis of the Global Partnership plan conceived in 2002 by the Group of Eight industrialised nations (G-8) of which Italy is a part. Under the Global Partnership, G-8 nations will provide $20 million over the next 10 years $10 billion coming from the United States and another $10 from other of the group’s members.

In 2005, apparent shortfalls in money pledged and spent by member nations were discussed by the G-8 in Tokyo. Italy was among those that renewed its commitments to the Global Partnership, plugging €360 million ($560 million) into the agreement on top of other funding it had agreed to in 2003.

The contract for the vessel – which will go into service in 2011 – was signed between deputy director of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom Yevgeny Yevstatov, and Giovanni Battista Narbone, head of the industrial policy management department of Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development on Friday.

Italy’s Fincantieri will be building the vessel, which will operate under the purview of Atomflot, the shipyard that is responsible for Russia’s nuclear ice breaks, which was just severed from its parent company, the Murmansk Shipping Company, and put under Rosatom control.

The ship is projected to be 84 metres long 14 metres wide and 16.7 metres high. It will have two hermitic cargo holds capable of holding a total of 720 metric tons – 18 containers weighing 40 metric tons each – of spent nuclear fuel.

The ships hull will be heavily fortified to deal with ice along the Northern Sea Route, where it will be able to service submarines at Gremikha, Andreyev Bay, Saida Bay, Severodvinsk and other nuclear submarine recycling sites.

The waste collected by the ship will be delivered to northern ports that can facilitate rail deliver of the waste to storage and reprocessing at the Mayak Chemical Combine.

The vessel is part of a two pronged agreement signed by Russia and Italy that will also involve he construction of radioactive waste treatment and storage facilities at Andreyeva Bay. Two submarines have already been dismantled under a joint Italian-Russian project.

The Italian and Russian governments signed a cooperation agreement in November 2003 for the dismantling of Russian nuclear submarines and for the safe disposal of radioactive waste and used fuel.

Sogin, a company that manages Italy’s shut down nuclear power plants, was given the task of coordinating Italy’s participation in the Global Partnership agreement.