Cleaning up Russia

Nigel Griffiths, the UK Trade and Industry Minister has announced further funding of over £1 million for a joint study with Sweden to look at the future management of spent nuclear fuel at Andreeva Bay in North West Russia.

AndreevaBay is located in the Zapadnaya sea inlet at the extreme North-West of the Kola Peninsula (Russian Federation) and some 40km from the Norwegian border. It is a former coastal navy base that was established in the early 1960’s for refuelling nuclear powered submarines and for storing Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) from submarines and nuclear powered ice-breakers. The base was also used as an interim storage of the solid and liquid radioactive wastes arising from nuclear submarine operations and maintenance.

The site is effectively derelict, but some 22,000 spent fuel nuclear assemblies still remain stored under poor conditions. AndreevaBay is considered to be one of the largest nuclear fuel repositories in the world. An international effort is now underway to assist Russia to clean up this site and make all SNF there safe and secure.

The objective of the joint study, known also as the ‘OBIN’ and translated from Russian broadly means ‘Justification of Investment’, is to deliver a plan for the provision of facilities and infrastructure to support the safe management of SNF, Solid Radioactive Waste (SRW) and Liquid Radioactive Waste (LRW) at Andreeva Bay. The study is expected to last twelve months, followed by a further twelve months obtaining expert reviews, approvals and endorsements by the necessary Russian regulators and local authorities.

Other organisations have agreed to provide financial support to future AndreevaBay projects, e.g. the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) which is administered by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).