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First consignment of radioactive waste from northwestern Russia to undergo processing

June 27, 2017, 13:32 UTC+3 MURMANSK

The storage in the Andreyeva Bay keeps about 22,000 tonnes of used equipment, which is equal to contents of 100 nuclear reactors

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MURMANSK, June 27. /TASS/. Specialists of the Russian nuclear authority (RusRAO) on Tuesday are sending out for further processing the first consignment of radioactive waste from the Andreyeva Bay by the Kola Peninsula. The company’s press service said it is the biggest storage of used nuclear fuel from submarines in Russia’s North-West.

"In 2017, we finalize the most important stage of the multilateral international project to begin rehabilitation of the most radioactive hazardous facility in Russia’s North-West - the Navy’s former technical base in the Andreyeva Bay in the Murmansk region," the company said, adding "on June 27, the first consignment will go for processing."

Emergency rescue

The storage in the Andreyeva Bay is the biggest facility for keeping used nuclear fuel from submarines in the North-West of Russia. It keeps in three storage containers about 22,000 tonnes of used equipment, which is equal to contents of 100 nuclear reactors. At first, the place was taken by a naval base, which opened there in the early 1960s for service of nuclear equipment installed on the Northern Fleet’s submarines. The base also stored used radioactive waste from submarines, vessels with nuclear engines and technical vessels.

In 1982, the storage’s skeleton got damaged, and radioactive water was leaking from the storage into the surrounding soil. A new storage was made in emergency. Since then, the used liquid nuclear waste has been kept in special modern containers. All the waste was reloaded to the new storage by 1989. The radioactive situation at that territory aggravated by the time. The process required better radioactive situation in the territory and at storages, as well as secure reloading.

However, in the early 1990s all preparations were terminated and resumed only in 2001 as the Ministry of Nuclear Energy began supervising the base. The following colossal work resulted in improvement of the radiation situation, research and construction of new technical facilities. Donors from seven countries as well as international organizations participated in that work.

Support from the Northern neighbors

International cooperation on the Andreyeva Bay problem began from 1998, as Russia entered an agreement with Norway’s Finnmark on elimination of the pollution source - the damaged storage. Further cooperation was under the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. During that cooperation, the parties fulfilled 121 international contract, about 45 scientific research programs and provided for safe conditions for construction and further exploitation.

The Murmansk region’s government said during 15 years the joint efforts of specialists from Russia, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Italy formed systems for handling used nuclear fuel in the Andreyeva Bay so that it is transported further on the the Mayak plant in the Urals’ Chelyabinsk region. The total investments made about 250 million dollars - about by 2.5 times more than it was planned initially. Over that time, about 17 new facilities were built to replace 20 outdated storages, and at least 12,000 cubic meters of the radioactive waste was transformed into safe condition. Experts call this international project the biggest and successful project over recent 15 years.

Cleaning the Arctic

In April 2017, on the Andreyeva Bay was ready a new facility for treating the used nuclear fuel and its further transportation for processing. On May 16, the personnel began taking waste from the storage to put it into containers for transportation.

An official ceremony of sending out the first consignment will take place here on Tuesday. The ceremony will feature officials of the Rosatom Corporation, the Northern Fleet, the Foreign Ministry, regional officials and parties to the project in Russia and 65 foreign guests. The Rossita vessel, in construction of which had invested Italy, will transport the waste to the Atomflot plant for further transportation to the Chelyabinsk region, where the waste will be processed at the Mayak plant.

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