On-shore spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Murmansk to start operation in April 2006

Publish date: February 25, 2005

The Murmansk Shipping Company is positive about the development of the Russian-British project on construction of the on-shore container storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at the nuclear icebreaker’s base Atomflot in Murmansk.

The British party was presented by the Crown Agents Company, the Murmansk Shipping Company and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise, Atomflot presented Russia. According to Interfax news agency, the complete contract for the construction part of the facility was signed in the end of January with the price-tag £4.6m. Earlier a £2.6m contract for non-standard equipment delivery had been signed. According to the project the facility should be ready in April 2006. At the moment all the environmental evaluations concerning the construction are completed.

This is the first project sponsored by the western donors in the North of Russia, which passed the public environmental evaluation conducted by Bellona-Murmansk. Unfortunately, most of the companies continue to work in the old way and do not trust NGOs, treating them as an obstacle. However, all the donor countries stipulate participation of the non-governmental organisations in the decision-making process when the interests of the society could be disturbed during implementation of some state or business projects. No double standards should be used in Russia. All the western experience regarding interaction of the business and the NGOs should be applied in Russia, of course, taking into consideration local legislation and mentality. Bellona has been always in favour of the dialog between the donor country representatives and the Russian authorities on all levels, especially concerning the projects on nuclear and radiation safety. “I am glad that the British representatives known in Russia as conservative people were the first to make such a step. I think, I will express the common opinion of the participation in the first stage of the project: we are satisfied with the joint work” said in an interview to Bellona-WEB director of Bellona-Murmansk Sergey Zhavoronkin.

The Great Britain might also fund the construction of 50 universal containers TUK-120 for spent nuclear fuel storage and shipment. “The positive decision of this issue has a principal meaning for us as no state commission would accept our facility without storage containers for the spent nuclear fuel” an Atomflot representative said to Interfax.

Spent fuel at the moment to be kept on board the nuclear fuel service ship Lotta, which can contain 16 active zones, but the place for two zones is just available at the moment. Once land storage is complete it can be offloaded, freeing the vessel to collect waste from even more submarines. The ship’s efficiency will be improved as well as removing the hazard of a ship full of SNF from the Arctic waters. Crown Agents is working with the UK Department for Trade and Industry, the Murmansk Shipping Company and The Federal State Unitary Enterprise, Atomflot to oversee the construction project. The United Kingdom under the G8 Global Partnership, which amongst other issues counters the proliferation of nuclear material and promotes nuclear safety in the former Soviet Union states, made funding available. Completion is expected in 2006 at a cost of £16.2 million.