Finnish Andreeva Guba project suspended

In May 1996, IVO Power Engineering Ltd. and RTP "Atomflot" in Murmansk signed a contract aimed to utilise a Finnish mobile facility – the Nures – to process liquid radioactive waste generated by the nuclear-powered ice-breakers. The project was funded by the Finnish Foreign Ministry, which allocated some 700,000 USD.

In September 1996, the facility was shipped to Murmansk. Due to problems with the customs, the facility was granted a one year temporary import licence to operate in "Atomflot".

By May 1997, the facility had processed some 300 cubic meters liquid waste. The operation was split into two parts: 150 cubic meters containing low grade salts (around 0.4 grams per litre) was finished by December 1996. The second stage was delayed due to problems with delivery of the necessary, special filters over the Russian boarder, but nevertheless was finished by May 1997, with an additional 150 cubic meters processed. These wastes contained higher grade salts (some 2-4 grams per litre). The latter was important, since the further intention was to apply Nures for processing of liquid wastes from the military submarines, which contain higher grade salts than the waste coming from nuclear-powered ice-breakers.

The Northern Fleet

In February 1997, preliminary negotiations were held with representatives of the Northern Fleet. The Finnish experts proposed to utilise Nures at the Northern Fleet base at Andreeva Guba in Zapadnaya Litsa, where, roughly estimated, 2000 cubic meters of liquid wastes are currently stored. The proposal received a positive reaction from the Northern Fleet, and IVO Power Engineering applied to the Finnish Foreign Ministry for additional funding, intending to process 600 cubic meters of the Andreeva Guba wastes. The Ministry rejected the application, referring to the project’s inherent strengthening of the military capability of the Northern Fleet. Currently, IVO Power Ltd. is searching for funding elsewhere, although reporting no practical results as of yet.

In September this year, the temporary import licence for Nures will run out, and the facility is expected to be shipped back to Finland.

According to Murmansk Shipping Company officials, the operation of Nures was effective, but too expensive. Roughly estimated, each cubic meter of liquid radioactive waste processed by Nures, costs some 2000 USD. In the meantime, the current price for one cubic meter of liquid waste processed at the land-based facility located at "Atomflot" is only some 150 USD. The current capacity of that facility is some 1200 cubic meters a year. An increase of the capacity, up to 5000 cubic meters a year, is expected after completion of a Russian-American-Norwegian co- operative project in the period December 1997 – March 1998.

Nevertheless, utilisation of Nures is considered economically viable by Murmansk Shipping Company for processing low-active liquid waste, in case the filters for the facility can be manufactured in Russia, since the Finnish product applicable for some 150 cubic meters of water costs some 200,000 USD. At the same time, the Finnish side is considering the possibility to apply Nures for processing of liquid wastes generated at Kola Nuclear Power Plant.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no