Minatom takes over naval radwaste issues

Igor Kudrik
1998-09-30 12:00

Minatom takes over naval radwaste

The Ministry for Atomic Energy of Russia is creating a special department, which will work exclusively with issues related to radwaste
handling. Naval radwaste will be under the new department’s purview.

The Ministry for Atomic Energy of Russia (Minatom) is gradually taking
responsibility from the Navy to handle radwaste and spent nuclear fuel.
During the past few months, Minatom officials appeared in
the media on several occasions to talk about radiation safety issues in
the Navy and
to propose solutions. The latest message from Minatom was that the
is creating a new department that will tackle radwaste issues in
general, and the Navy’s in particular.

Up to date, according to Minatom, 121 nuclear-powered submarines have been
decommissioned, 95 of them in the Northern Fleet. Only 42 submarines have been defueled (26 in the Northern Fleet). The rest are laid up at different locations on the Kola Peninsula and Arkhangel’sk
County, and in the Russian Far East. Thus, the priority issue, as defined by Minatom, is to defuel the remaining submarines and to place
spent fuel into specially designed transport casks.

According to Minatom officials, $16.3 million this year, and $80 million
next year must be earmarked to defuel all submarines by the year 2002.
All in all, $250 million is required by 2005 to solve the most important issues related to submarine decommissioning.

Minatom says the funding is to come from the defence budget, profits from selling scrap metal from conventional naval ships pulled out of service, as well as from Minatom funds earned on shipments of low-enriched uranium to the U.S. The last source of funding is aid and
assistance from other countries.

Transport cask tested
On August 18, a cask designed to store spent fuel from maritime reactors was tested at a test site near St. Petersburg. The concrete-metal cask has a weight of 140 tons and can hold 5 tons of spent fuel. The cask may be used for fuel storage (up to 50 years) and for fuel transportation. The development of the cask was reportedly partly funded by the U.S. and Norway. After successful testing, the cask will be produced in numbers sufficient to cover the spent fuel that is currently stored in the reactors of laid-up submarines and in run-down navy stores.

Spent fuel shipment schedules unclear
So far this year, only three shipments of spent fuel to the Mayak
reprocessing plant have been performed: One from Murmansk, one from
Severodvinsk, and one from the Pacific Fleet. According to officials at
Murmansk Shipping Company, responsible for both civilian and military
fuel shipment from Murmansk, due to the collapse in the banking system
and the ruble plunge, all planned fuel shipments have been postponed for
an unspecified period of time. Severodvinsk and the Pacific Fleet have
no plans for future shipments this year.

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