UK money – up to £84 million – and UK expertise are to play an important role in ensuring that the nuclear legacy of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) is dealt with in the safest and most secure way possible, Energy Minister Brian Wilson said today.
Attending the Baltic Conference of Energy Ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania Mr Wilson announced UK funding to improve the security systems on two nuclear-powered icebreakers in the Russian Northern civilian fleet:
The project to install physical protection is the second project that the UK has undertaken with the Murmansk Shipping Company. The first project was to install a physical protection system in the nuclear-powered ship, the Sevmorput, in 2001.
‘Today I am committing £700,000 to purchase and install physical protection equipment for two Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers,’ said Mr Wilson. ‘In the current international climate nuclear security must be given the utmost priority and I am committed to making the improvements wherever necessary.’
‘The nuclear legacy of the FSU is a matter for global concern. I am committed to ensuring the UK recognises its international duties and leads from the front in eradicating the environmental, safety, and proliferation threats the FSU poses.
‘That is why we have set aside an £84 million budget to address the multitude of problems posed by the FSU’s nuclear history. I am now anxious to make progress on the terms under which this money will be released.’
UK finance and expertise is ready to be allocated to numerous projects in the FSU once the Supplementary Agreement with Russia has been signed. These projects include the dismantling of up to 100 nuclear submarines in NorthWest Russia; the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel at Andreeva Bay; the secure disposition of a stockpile of Russian weapons grade plutonium; and, creating sustainable non-weapons jobs and industries in ten ‘Closed Nuclear Cities’.
While in Lithuania Mr Wilson also highlighted the role the UK has already played in the country’s nuclear programme, and commented on the decommissioning of the Ignalina power plant:
‘We have supported the regeneration of the area in preparation for the closure of Ignalina through a Social Consequences programme and in the last three years we have funded £3 million of projects in Lithuania through the Nuclear Safety Programme (NSP).
‘UK companies have vast experience in the decommissioning and closure of reactors and I have no hesitation in offering this expertise to the Lithuanian government to supplement their own programme,’ concluded Wilson.