Norway funds trench digging

31 March 1999

Norway has embarked on a project to stop radioactivity from a spent fuel facility in Russia’s Andreeva Bay pouring into the Litsa Fjord on the Kola Peninsula, according to the Norwegian environmental foundation, Bellona. The aim is to dig a trench around the facility.

The St Petersburg-based Vedeneev Scientific Research Institute for Hydrotechnics devised the scheme, but lack of funds hampered its implementation. Last August Norway agreed to provide most of the funding. The project is now part of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s ‘Plan of Action’ for nuclear safety issues and is the first stage in a project, Securing of the Spent Fuel Facility in Andreeva Bay.

Trench digging, which began last autumn, will continue this spring. “We count on finishing the project by 1 September,” Ludmila Amozova, head of radiation safety at the Murmansk Environmental Committee, told Bellona.

Foreign observers are not directly involved and Norwegian officials will be shown pictures showing the project’s completion.

“Digging a trench is a simplified description of the project,” Amozova explains. “This is a very complicated engineering construction.” Andreeva Bay has the largest and the only operational storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the Northern Fleet. According to available estimates, more than 21 000 fuel assembles are stored there. Some of the fuel is placed in an unshielded site outside the facility, open to the severe conditions of the Arctic winter.

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