The Estonian government has approved a proposal from the Ministry of Environment to build a new storage facility for the radioactive waste that will be generated during decommissioning of sections of two nuclear reactors at the former Soviet Paldiski naval base. They were part of the largest training centre of the USSR nuclear submarine fleet.
The project will cost about €90m ($103.4m) . Minister of environmental protection Marco Pomerants said the existing store in Paldiski is a temporary solution and not suitable for the long-term storage of large amounts of waste.
"For us it is important to start the preparatory work now, as the necessary studies and construction take a long time," he said. The reactors must be made safe by 2040, when the oldest reactor will be 70 years. "It is clear that its safety cannot be guaranteed, and we welcome the government decision today."
The Soviet training centre opened in Paldiski in 1962. The first reactor is a 70 MWt pressurised water reactor (PWR)VM-A which operated from 1968 to 1989. It is housed in a metal casing, similar in shape and size to a submarine. The second reactor is a 90MWt PWR BM-4 which operated from 1983 to 1989.
The decision to close the base was made in 1991, and in autumn 1995, the centre together with the reactors and the radioactive waste storage was transferred to Estonia. By that time, Russia had completed work to ensure the long-term safety of the reactor compartments. The used fuel was removed from and taken to Russia.