Spent fuel might get stuck in Severodvinsk

Publish date: July 8, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The two service vessels in Severodvinsk which perform the defuelling operations on nuclear subs are no longer operational. This means that the planned spent fuel shipments to Mayak plant will be suspended, while the city's environmental authorities will not grant permission for more retired subs to enter Severodvinsk waters.

According to the head of Severodvinsk Environmental Committee, Leonid Kuratov, the two service vessels assisting at subs defuelling operations can no longer be in service. The PM-124 (pr. 326M) was taken into operation 37 years ago and by now has to be decommissioned, while the second vessel, the PM-63 (pr. 2020), will be granted permission to perform defuelling operations only after overhaul repairs. The repair works require almost 7 million USD. The money, as has become the rule, is not available.

During 1997, there was only one shipment of spent fuel from Severodvinsk (performed in May). That shipment was delayed for almost two months, due to malfunctions on both the train and the PMs in Severodvinsk.

According to Kuratov, Severodvinsk generates four shipments of spent fuel a year. In case no shipment is performed this year, no more retired nuclear subs will be admitted to Severodvinsk, as these would only add to the number of subs with the reactor cores intact. This, in turn, will slow down the scrapping operations and will lead to reduction of the amount of work at Severodvinsk yards, hence to the increase of social tension among the employees.