Most Dangerous Ship in Europe Sails

Barents Observer
Sunday, September 16, 2012

Last voyage for Russian nuclear waste hulk 'Lepse' as she heads out of Murmansk Port for a lengthy decommissioning.

Rosatomflot and Bellona have worked with many international partners and governments to develop a proper risk-assessment plan for a safe decommissioning of “Lepse” – and of course found funding for the work,” Frederic Hauge of the Bellona Fournation told the 'Barents Observer'.

Getting “Lepse” safely out of Murmansk and decommissioned has been a high profile case for Europe’s nuclear safety cooperation with Russia in the north for nearly two decades. In 2008, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) granted €43 million to the decommission work.

When the vessel arrives at the Nerpa naval yard the damaged spent nuclear fuel will have to be removed. That is the most risky part of the work. The uranium fuel will be taken over in storage casks and sent to Russia’s reprocessing plant Mayak in the South Urals. Then the plan is to store the remaining and still-radioactive compartments and radioactive metal from “Lepse” at a huge onshore storage pad designed for submarine reactors in Saida bay, just west of Nerpa shipyard on the Kola coast.

Frederic Hauge added: “Lepse” is now slowly being towed out of the heavily populated areas of Murmansk towards the Nerpa naval yard where she will be decommissioned. From tonight, the 307,000 inhabitants of Murmansk, the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle, can sleep more relaxed."
 

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