18 nuclear submarines are earmarked for decommissioning in Russia this year. 12 of them are based in the Northern Fleet and six in the Pacific Fleet. Decommissioning of all the nuclear submarines taken out of service is planned to complete until 2007. In total, 150 subs are to be scrapped.
The above was stated by Valery Lebedev, Deputy Minister of Nuclear Energy, during his visit to Izhora plant in Leningrad County. The plant is about to start manufacturing casks designed for long term storage and shipment of spent nuclear fuel. Earlier this year, Russian State Nuclear Regulatory (GAN) refused to licence the casks out of safety concerns and called back the licence for their production from Izhora plant.
Mr. Lebedev said that spent nuclear fuel from the submarines would be shipped to the Mayak reprocessing plant in the southern Ural. Should the plant fail reprocessing in high enough tempo, the fuel would be placed in temporary storage facilities, Lebedev said. The Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy, or Minatom, plans to build four spent fuel storage sites: three of them will be located in the Northern Fleet, and one will be placed in the Russian Far East.
Deputy Minister also emphasised that Russia increases the speed of submarines decommissioning with each year.
Mr. Lebedev neither named the funding sources to the increased decommissioning rate, nor mentioned the limited reprocessing capacity at Mayak plant. He also avoided mentioning that spent fuel storage sites in the Northern Fleet and in the Pacific Fleet are yet to be constructed. This all might cast serious doubts on the Russia’s ability to scrap around 150 submarines by 2007.