Presentation of the Northern Fleet report

Publish date: April 18, 1996

Bellona press conference: Presentation of the Norther Fleet report


Moscow April 18. The Bellona Foundation today, at a press conference in Moscow, presented text version of the new report about the environmental problems related to the Russian Northern Fleet. The report gives a detailed description of the nuclear problems related to the operation of nuclear powered submarines. This is the report the imprisoned former naval officer Alexandr Nikitin was working on when he was arrested by the Russian secret police FSB (former KGB) and accused of espionage. FSB claim that there are state secrets in the report and that Alexandr Nikitin is the source for this information. Bellona can prove that all the information in the report comes from open sources. Beside stating the fact that the condition at the storage facilities for radioactive waste in the North Fleet is full, in a very bad condition or both, the main conclusion that Bellona have drawn from the information in the report is as follows.

  • The report The Russian Northern Fleet – Sources of Radioactive Contamination shows that most of the problems related to nuclear safety at the storage facilities and nuclear submarines in the North Fleet are a legacy from time of the Soviet Union when it was not taken the necessary precautions to prevent accidents. The facilities for storage and treatment of nuclear waste were not built properly for prevention of leakage’s to the environment. The situation during the Cold war and the arms race connected to it was the main reason for this.
  • Today the problems are related to the disarmament agreements
  • As a result of the disarmament agreements Russia is forced to take 100 submarines out of operation within the next seven years. This means that 100 submarines has to be transferred to a naval yard, the hull is cut into three parts. This is done to physically remove the submarine’s missile compartment in compliance with the terms of the disarmament agreements.
  • There is no storage facility for the enormous amounts of radioactive waste that has to be removed from the decommissioned submarines.
  • The environmental aspects of the decommissioning of submarines are not a part of the arms reduction treaties.
  • The Bellona Foundation recommend that the START II agreement is renegotiated. The demand that the rocket section has to be removed is based on western fear rooted in the days of the cold war.
  • The nuclear facilities has to be under democratic control. That means that the inspection has to be carried out by civilian authorities.