Nuclear Arctic without secrets

Publish date: November 26, 2001

Written by: Rashid Alimov

Bellona presented its report The Arctic Nuclear Challenge in St Petersburg.

“In the early 1990s I intentionally reveal a lot of classified data, because in my opinion, there should be no secrets concerning radiation safety,” said the head of the Murmansk office of Bellona, Andrey Zolotkov, at a press conference held in St Petersburg.

The press conference was devoted to presentation Bellona’s new report: The Arctic Nuclear Challenge. Andrey Zolotkov, one of the authors of the report, stressed, that today there is only a potential danger of radioactive contamination of the Arctic region. But at the same time, management of radioactive waste remains one of the most major environmental challenges for the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk counties.

This report is already the third in series. The head of the Murmansk office said, he was satisfied with the co-operation, Bellona managed to establish with the Russian officials while preparing the report. For example, the part, containing information about dangerous condition of the Kola NPP reactors, was granted by the nuclear plant itself. At the same time, Murmansk office representatives claimed, that despite Aleksandr Nikitin’s acquittal, the decision, banning distribution of previous Bellona’s report The Russian Northern Fleet has not been lifted yet.

Presenting the report, Mr Zolotkov especially touched upon the project, carried out by Bellona in co-operation with Murmansk Shipping Company: Bellona funded a set of living containers for the crew and workers of the Lepse service ship filled with damaged spent nuclear fuel to reduce radiation doses they receive. He also said about the projects for remediation of Andreyeva Bay. Andreyeva Bay, situated 45km from the Russian-Norwegian boarder in the north-western part of the Kola Peninsula, is the largest storage site for naval spent nuclear fuel. 93 reactor cores, containing 35 tonnes of nuclear materials, are stored there. Answering to a question about the realization cost for the remediation projects, Mr Zolotkov said it would take more than $10m to clean up the site. He also mentioned that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives were for the first time allowed to visit Andreyeva Bay in May 2001. After this visit Norway allocated 10m NOK for radiation safety assistance.

Speaking about Bellona’s evaluation of the Kursk dismantling safety, the head of Murmansk office wished Bellona could be allowed onboard the Kursk. “We don’t doubt that everything is normal there, but if the Russian government agrees to invite us onboard, we’ll be able to confirm that on the spot.”