Andreyev Bay, on the Kola Peninsula just 50 kilometres from Finnmark, is considered to contain one of the largest and most dangerous collections of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in the world.
Andreyev Bay was a Russian military service base that was used to replenish nuclear fuel on atomic submarines and for handling and storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. After the facility ceased to be operational, maintenance was minimal and part of the area is heavily contaminated. The spent nuclear fuel comes from approximately 100 submarine reactors, and an accident could have serious consequences. One of the main reasons why Norway has become involved is the risk of contamination across national borders and of radioactive material going astray.
Norway is currently Russia’s most important collaborative country for nuclear safety projects in Andreyev Bay. Since 1997, Norway, together with Russia, has implemented a number of projects to reduce the risk of radioactive contamination and to prevent radioactive material from going astray. Others that have been or are active are the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, the European Commission and the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, which is administered by the EBRD.
Measures that Norway has financed:
- fences, guard huts and alarm systems to ensure that unauthorised persons do not enter the area
- roads, water and sewerage, a power grid and buildings, which are necessary to ensure that the removal of spent nuclear fuel can be done under safe conditions
- a wharf to be used when the waste is transported out of the facility by sea
- ground surveys and mapping of the existing contamination at the site
- radiation shielding for one of the three storage tanks of spent nuclear fuel, in collaboration with the United Kingdom, to enable proper radiation protection for the workers who will remove the spent nuclear fuel
- training of personnel who will remove the spent nuclear fuel
- carrying out contingency exercises
- equipment and facilities for cleaning and preparing equipment to be used to transport out the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste
Further Norwegian initiatives will hopefully lead to safe removal and final storage. It is a priority for Norway that Russia keeps to international standards when handling spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.
It is in Norway’s own interest to monitor work in Andreyev Bay, also after the work of removing nuclear fuel begins, which is due to start in 2017.