The Lepse is a floating storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, and liquid and solid radioactive wastes from the Russian icebreaker fleet.
It is expected that the other party of the project, TACIS program, will sign the program in the nearest future, Interfax reported with the reference to the sources in the Atomflot management.
According to the contract, the projects preliminary stages will be carried out during 18 months. In particular, it concerns the development of the best alternative of the facility dismantlement, working out of the chosen alternative, paper work for the tender. The Lepse managing committee has been established and headed by the NEFCO representative Magnus Rystedt.
The technical support vessel Lepse presents the biggest nuclear and radiation risk of all retired nuclear service ships in Russia. In 1988, the vessel was taken out of service, and, in 1990, it was assigned the category of "laid-up vessel." The Lepse’s spent nuclear fuel storage holds (in casks and caissons) 639 spent fuel assemblies (SFAs), and a significant portion of them is severely damaged. Extraction of the SFAs from storage holds would present a radiation risk and be a complex technical operation, the framework for which has still not been worked out. The ship is presently laid-up at Atomflot, which carries out service on nuclear powered icebreakers. Atomflot is located in the Kola Bay, two kilometres from the boarder of Murmansk city, which has population of 400,000. The ship is operated by joint stock company Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCo).