Long delayed train arrives at Severodvinsk

Publish date: May 26, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

On May 21 the special train for shipment of spent nuclear fuel finally arrived at Severodvinsk. The train was scheduled to be in Severodvinsk by April 2, but was delayed due to technical malfunctions.

Loading of the TK-18 containers started on May 22. The train is planned to leave Severodvinsk by the end of May, carrying spent fuel removed from Naval service ship PM-63 (project 2020, Malina class). The train will be able to take approx. one third of the fuel assemblies currently stored onboard the vessel.

Prior to the arrival at Severodvinsk the train underwent repairs at Mayak plant in Siberia. According to Mayak official Evgenij Ryzhkov, one of the container cells of the train was damaged, and a shortage of funds slowed down the repair operation. In the meantime, PM-63 in Severodvinsk was inspected by the Northern Fleet’s technical control authorities in the beginning of April. Out of 67 checked loading mechanisms onboard, only 4 were functioning properly. The inspection concluded that the boat requires overhaul repairment. Allthough unconfirmed, the Bellona Web reckon that these repairs have not been carried out, since Severodvinsk has still not received the state money to cover all its salary arrears.

Operations at Mayak reprocessing plant itself, where the spent fuel is to be treated, are currently suspended by the Russian State Nuclear Inspection (Gosatomnadzor). Neither Mayak nor Gosatomnadzor officials in Moscow could name a date for the reprocessing facility to be put into operation again. Apparently, the Severodvinsk spent fuel is to be stored for an unknown period of time at one of Mayak’s storage facilities.