The Lepse service vessel, Russia’s waterborne atomic graveyard, has inched a step closer to complete dismantlement as officials say they will begin extracting nuclear fuel rods from its irradiated holds next month. The vessel, which technicians are carefully pulling apart at the Nerpa Shipyard near Murmansk, was used to refuel Russia’s nuclear icebreakers at sea – a job that eventually turned it into one of the world’s most dangerous radioactive hazards. Since its retirement, it has become a flagstone in Northwest Russia’s legacy of Cold War nuclear waste. Removing spent fuel from the vessel – including the extraction of several damaged assemblies – is among the most complex nuclear cleanup operations Russia has ever undertaken. When it’s completed in 2020, it will be a decades-long culmination of high-tech preparation paid for by marshaling millions of dollars from nearly a dozen western countries, often in the face of trying political circumstances.
Bellona 1st Aug 2018 read more »