Rosatom will raise flooded submarines from the Arctic

July 10, 2020 (Google Translation) – The state corporation is preparing to obtain the status of an organization responsible for the removal of flooded nuclear submarines from the Arctic. The raising of submarines withdrawn from the Navy and the improvement of nuclear and radiation safety were the main topics of the 23rd meeting of the joint Russian-Norwegian commission for cooperation in the field of environmental protection.

“Nuclear safety is a priority in the cooperation between Norway and Russia, we have achieved a lot over the past 25 years. In the future, cooperation on flooded and sunken facilities may become even more important, ”said State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway Audun Halvorsen, opening the meeting.

In 2020, the development of a feasibility study on the safe management of flooded objects was completed. The four-year project involved an international consortium under a contract between the European Commission and the Italian company Sogin. The experts created a database of flooded objects, assessed their danger, as well as the amount of funding and the timing of work. Earlier, in 2019, the document was discussed at several international conferences, the conclusion is that it is impossible to leave such dangerous objects to descendants, they must be removed and brought to a safe state.

The total activity of boats flooded in the Kara and Barents Seas is 1 million Ki. According to preliminary estimates by Russian experts, they can be extracted within 12 years.

Underwater research, design and construction of the ship for lifting will last until the end of 2026. The lifting of the K-159 nuclear submarine together with the design and dismantlement will take four years (2025–2028). The same amount of time will be required to lift the submarine K-27 (2028–2031). The remaining five boats will rise in 2029–2032.

Experts recognized Rosatom as the most competent organization capable of carrying out the full range of work on raising nuclear submarines. Now Rosatom is preparing documents for the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, according to which the state corporation will receive the status of a responsible organization for the safe management of flooded facilities.

According to the co-chair of the commission from Russia, director of state policy in the field of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel and decommissioning of nuclear and radiation hazardous facilities of Rosatom Oleg Kryukov, raising flooded facilities is an extremely difficult task: no one has ever completed it in the world. Rosatom is considering interaction options, technologies, and ship building methods. “Safety and environmental impact will always remain in the first place. The most important thing in such work is not to have a single incident, ”concluded Oleg Kryukov.

Anatoly Grigoryev, Project Manager for International Technical Assistance, Center for International Programs and Projects in the Field of Radioactive Waste, SNF and SE NROO “Rosatom”, reported on improving the radiation situation in the Arctic.

According to him, the problem of the dismantlement of nuclear submarines and radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), the lack of infrastructure for storing spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, and the technology for the safe storage of emergency facilities (nuclear submarines, other vessels, defective spent nuclear fuel) and sunken and sunken nuclear submarines was recognized back in the mid-1990s. x years. Then began cooperation between Russia and Norway to reduce radioactivity in the Arctic. The most difficult was the situation in the northwestern part of the Russian Arctic. The parties were engaged in the decommissioning of RTGs, the dismantling of nuclear submarines, the solution of environmental problems in the storage facility in Andreeva Bay, and the improvement of safety at the Kola and Leningrad NPPs.

In the 1990s, about a hundred submarines were deployed at nine locations. Now the number of points has been reduced to two, and they are transferred to a safe state. The volumes of nuclear materials and radioactive waste have been reduced more than twofold from 2004 to the present time – from 11.1 million to 5.09 million Ci.

The spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned nuclear submarines has been almost completely removed. The activity of the Lepse smelting plant in 2020 fell from 0.54 million CI to 0.02 million CI after the assembly began to be exported in the fall of 2019.

Production sites have been created at the bases in Sayda Bay, Andreeva Bay and Gremikha to plan and carry out complex production operations for the management of nuclear fuel and radioactive waste and to rehabilitate these facilities.

So, the total activity of objects on Andreeva Bay was reduced by a third. After the export of 7.5 thousand fuel assemblies for export, activity fell by about 1 million Ki compared to 2017. In 2019, assemblies with a total activity of 400 thousand Ki were exported. A complex project to extract six damaged assemblies from the pool was completed: the assemblies are stored in a container, ready for shipment outside the Murmansk region.

Spent fuel assemblies were completely removed from Gremikha, in total about 900 pieces, and 744 m 3 of radioactive waste. Gremikha has 11 nuclear submarine active zones with a liquid metal coolant. Seven have already been taken apart, four left. Each year, one core is disposed of. You can’t work faster because of the high dose load on the staff. It is expected that the work will be completed in 2023.

Pollock is a new, specially prepared base for the safe long-term storage of reactor compartments and parts of nuclear icebreaker support vessels, packed in special packages. Now, 121 packages with submarine parts and six packages with parts of support vessels are stored on the Side. The capacity of the site is 178 packs. SRW reprocessing plan for 2020 – 820 m 3 . In addition, decontamination is carried out in Side, after which pure metal can be sold for scrap.

“We are proud that together with the Norwegian side we managed to utilize 251 of the 1000 RTGs that were located on the Russian coast. There are no radiation hazardous objects (RTGs) left on the coast of the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Leningrad, Kaliningrad regions, all of them have been replaced by safe energy sources, ”said Anatoly Grigoryev.

Currently, projects in the Arctic are funded under the federal target program “Industrial Disposal of Arms and Military Equipment”. Starting next year, they will be funded under the new state program “Development of the Nuclear Energy Industry”, calculated until 2027.

The goals until 2027 are to remove nuclear fuel from the facilities of the northwestern part of the Russian Arctic, complete the disposal of submarines, nuclear icebreakers and support vessels, and proceed to the active phase of the facility rehabilitation. By this time, it is possible that the most dangerous of the submarines that have sunk and sunken in the Arctic have already begun to lift. “Given that we already have positive experience, most likely we will solve these problems positively,” Anatoly Grigoryev concluded his speech.

Oleg Kryukov answered questions from representatives of non-profit environmental organizations.

So, to the question of the Russian representative of Bellona Alexander Nikitin about whether a final isolation point for the waste that will appear after the decommissioning of the Kola NPP will be constructed in the Murmansk Region, Oleg Kryukov said that Rosatom had not yet made such a decision, since these points are not necessary in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, money is annually reserved for waste disposal at nuclear power plants and, according to Kryukov, this activity should be continued.

Chelyabinsk activist Andrei Talevlin asked why they brought SNF from the Murmansk region to the Mayak when the plant for the treatment of medium-level waste was launched in the Chelyabinsk region and the dumping of LRW into the environment stopped. In response, Oleg Kryukov clarified that in general no LRW is dumped into the natural environment, they are poured into licensed industrial pools. Commissioning is underway at the enterprise for the solidification of intermediate level waste; before the end of this year, a license for its operation will be obtained. And the fuel is processed by Mayak, because it possesses the necessary technologies and competencies.

Answering the question of the next participant, Oleg Kryukov said that the spent nuclear fuel from the decommissioned Leningrad NPP is being transported for processing to Zheleznogorsk, since there is a dry storage facility at the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine. In addition, this year a pilot demonstration center should be launched at the MCC. There they will reprocess SNF, use the processed products as fuel, and remove waste from the human environment for long-term safe storage.

Summing up the work of the commission, Oleg Kryukov said that he was completely satisfied with the results and “deep understanding with the Norwegian side,” which contributes to the achievement of a common goal: improving the environmental situation in the North-West of Russia.

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