IAEA expert group meeting on nuclear service ships to be held in Murmansk

Publish date: May 3, 2005

A meeting of IAEA expert-contact group will be held in Murmansk from May 24 to May 26, Interfax reported.

The representatives of the ten donor countries and three European organisations as well as Russian representatives from the Federal Nuclear Agency and Murmansk administration are expected to take part in the meeting. The main issue of the meeting is problems concerning nuclear service ships dismantling, deputy director of Atomflot Federal Company Mustafa Kashka said to the Interfax news agency. The common conception for service ships dismantling should be worked out. According to Kashka, the common conception for the retired nuclear submarines has been developed long time ago as well as the schedule for their dismantling while no such schemes have been developed for the nuclear service ships. This situation can explain the unsolved issue with ”the most radioactive dangerous object in Northern Europe and Russia” service ship Lepse, he added.

Russia has total 72 nuclear service ships. The Murmansk Shipping Company operates four nuclear service ships on the Kola Peninsula: Lotta, Imandra, Volodarsky and Lepse. Since 1998 Lotta has been engaged in shipping navy spent nuclear fuel from the retired submarines. 16 special trains with spent nuclear fuel onboard have been sent from the Kola Peninsula, 75 percent of the cargo belongs to the Northern Fleet. Imandra service ship receives annually more than 150 cubic meters of liquid radioactive waste from the marine reactors. Imandra started to accept spent nuclear fuel from the retired submarines in November 1999. Total from 1981 to 2001 Imandra unloaded 37 reactor cores and loaded 33 reactor cores on the civil marine nuclear reactors. Since 1996 Imandra has been used to ship spent nuclear fuel from the navy bases to the Atomflot base for its further shipment by railway for reprocessing in the South Ural.

Lepse service ship was used from 1972 to 1981 to reload spent nuclear fuel in the nuclear icebreakers Lenin, Arktika and Sibir. After Imandra was taken in service, Lepse has been used as a storage facility for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Volodarsky is also used now as a storage facility for solid radioactive waste, Interfax reported.