Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Russia begins removal of nuclear waste from Cold War-era submarine base

Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom has begun to remove spent nuclear fuel from the old Andreyeva Bay submarine base for reprocessing as part of an international effort to clean up nuclear waste from the site.

Three hundred and fifty fuel assemblies, each containing 15-20kg of spent nuclear fuel, were shipped on board a specially-equipped vessel to the Russian port city of Murmansk in the far north on Tuesday, from where they are due to be taken by train to the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant in Chelyabinsk, near the Ural Mountains.

"Today is a great day, which completes two decades’ worth of work in preparation for the removal of fuel from the storage facility in Andreyeva Bay," said Rosatom CEO Aleksey Likhachev, as quoted by TASS.

For the last 35 years, the old submarine base at Andreyeva Bay has held some 22,000 nuclear fuel assemblies, enough for over 100 reactors’ worth of fuel, from over 50 nuclear submarines, in three storage containers. According to Anatoly Grigoriev, Rosatom’s leading specialist in the coordination and implementation of international programs, removing them will take around 10 years.

“I think it will be enough for us to empty [the first] two storage sites within five years,” Grigoriev told Interfax.

“For the third storage site we will need another five years, because there’s a very serious situation with radiation and the fuel is in poor condition, so decisions will have to be made on the spot, so to speak.”

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