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Kick-off for the Lepse Expert Panel

The service ship Lepse.
Bellona Archive

Publish date: June 2, 2006

Written by: Charles Digges

In order to review Russian plans to remove spent nuclear fuel (SNF) on board the storage ship Lepse , and the decommission the vessel, an international expert panel called the “Lepse Expert Panel,” (LEP) has been inaugurated. This group met in Moscow on May 23rd for a kick-off meeting.

The Lepse is a former nuclear service ship, now used as a floating SNF storage vessel, moored a mere four kilometres from the centre of Murmansk. It holds 639 spent fuel assemblies, the majority of which are damaged by a 1967 accident aboard the nuclear icebreaker Lenin. Bellona has been chosen as a member of the EU panel for its long time engagement in the difficulties of dismantling the Lepse .

The objective of the LEP, is to provide the Lepse Steering Committee and potential future donors a review and assessment of the TACIS AP 2002:R4.01/02 “Preliminary Design, Development and Approval of the Documentation for SNF/RAW removal from the FTB [Floating Technical Base] Lepse and its further Decommissioning”. The TACIS project is being carried out by the Russian Non-Profit organisation Aspect-Conversion.

The Lepse Steering Committee currently consists of the following donor members; the European Commission AidCo TACIS, The French Ministry of Economy and Finance (FFEM), The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign affairs and the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO). The Committee has taken on the following people as members of the LEP:

Curt Bergman, Consultant,
Bjørn Borgaas, Storvik & Co
Christian Deregel, Institut de Radioprotection et de Süreté Nucléaire,
Anatoliy Shulgin, Russian Federal Nuclear Regulatory Authority
Nils Bøhmer, The Bellona Foundation

The kick-off meeting in Moscow on May 23rd was followed by three panel meetings, which will lead up to a tender dossier that will serve as a background for potential future donors for the Lepse project in spring 2007. So far the total cost of the Lepse project is estimated at EUR30 million.

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