The Russian atomic energy minister, Alexander Rumyantsev, has announced that the federal nuclear safety inspectorate has decided that the project to construct a nuclear waste storage facility on the island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean should not go ahead. In June 2002, the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) had approved the construction of the $70 million facility. The project had also been approved by experts from Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the UK and had undergone a government environmental analysis. The Russian Research Institute of Industrial Technology spent 10 years and $2 million to develop the design of the future storage facility.

Analyses of potential climate change in the region led scientists and geologists to conclude that rising temperatures over the next 150 to 200 years are threatening to thaw the region’s permafrost, which could lead to leakage of radioactive materials. Rumyantsev said that the Ministry of Atomic Energy is now looking into building a storage facility the Kola peninsula.