Photo: Vera Ponarova
“We are talking about buildings that have already been illegally constructed, without any state environmental inspection,” Oleg Bodrov of the Sosnovy Bor group Green World told Bellona Web.
“Now, to get them online, formal procedures that are purely decorative in nature must be carried out.”
Currently, SNF is housed at a storage facility on the site of the Leningrad NPP, 90 metres from the Gulf of Finland. Fuel assemblies are held in leaky wet storage tanks in special sheaths that are submersed in water.
The Leningrad NPP wet storage facility has been filled above capacity since 1995, and currently holds 4,000 tonnes of SNF. In 1996 a decision was taken to condense the space the fuel rods take up in the overloaded facility by developing special suspension brackets that hold two fuel assemblies instead of the usual one. The is was a technological breach of as yet untold proportions.
Increasing the number of assemblies above the projected norm produced greater stress on the wet storage facility’s foundations, leading to defects in the construction and leakage of irradiated water.
Dry storage facility
Construction of the separation and dry storage facility on the Gulf of Finland began in 1999. The main aim of creating the complex was to remove SNF from wet storage―arguably the worst method of storing SNF―and keep it in concrete containers.
Permission for the construction was granted by the then Ministry of Atomic Energy, know know as Rosatom. The work was carried out by the Northern Administration of Construction in Sosnovy Bor. The Leningrad NPP had no license to build the complex. No project was submitted for state environmental inspection of the construction.
Oversight bodies have reminded the Leningrad NPP administration of these infringements. In 1998, the head of the second administration of the state nuclear oversight body, Sergei Adamchik, sent Leningrad NPP director Valery Lebedev a letter mentioning the necessity of securing a license for the dry storage facility’s construction. Nevertheless, construction was started without observation of the formalities.
It is, however, the position of most nuclear experts and the assertion of Bellona that dry storage is a far safer method for holding SNF―and one that is long over-due for the LNPP and its overburdened wet storage facilities.