Photo: Bellona Archive
The water is 20m deep at the piers. The oldest pier is over 30 years old and was built for the local fishermen. According to base authorities, this pier could sink at any time.
According to Northern Fleet specialists, the reactor compartments can be stored at the piers for a period of up to ten years. After that they should be placed into dry docks and transported to a storage facility where they will not come into contact with water. Otherwise they should be dismantled.
At the present time, there are at least 41 reactor compartments at the three piers. Four of them are from the submarines K-216, factory no. 424 (Yankee class) with eight compartments; K-415, factory no. 451 (Yankee) with three compartments; K-241, factory no. 462 with three compartments, and K-463, factory no. 915 (Alfa) with pontoons welded on both front and back.
The reactor from the submarine K-463 was towed to Sayda Bay from Severodvinsk at the end of the 1980s. There are 20 tonnes of solid radioactive waste stored in the reactor compartment which was filled in Severodvinsk. The reactor compartment was washed prior to being towed to Sayda Bay in 1994. Indeed, all of the reactor compartments presently stored at Sayda Bay have originated in Severodvinsk, as will those that come here in the future.
The nuclear fuel has been removed from all of the reactor compartments that are laid up at Sayda Bay; however, over the course of 1996, the reactor section of a Project 705 – Alfa class submarine is due to be towed to Sayda Bay. In this case, the fuel will remain on board the submarine.
Monitoring of the submarine hulls and the reactor compartments ability to float is carried out by Navy personnel residing at Sayda Bay. In the event that a hull or reactor section sinks, it is their responsibility to report this to the Northern Fleet rescue service. The rescue service then sends a tug and attempts to pull the reactor compartment/hull up onto land. Monitoring the levels of radiation at the piers is undertaken by the Radiation Safety Service from Gadzhievo Naval Base. The maximum permissible level of radiation on the outside of the reactor compartment is set at 200 mR/h. There are no reports of radiation at higher levels than this being measured outside the reactor compartments.