Russia and Norway further safety and radwaste cooperation

16 June 2015

Russia and Norway plan to sign a protocol soon on early notification in the event of a nuclear accident, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said yesterday. The statement followed a meeting of the Russian-Norwegian commission on nuclear and radiation safety held in the Norwegian town of Kirkenes.

Norway's deputy foreign minister Bård Glad Pedersen said: "The signing shortly of a protocol on joint procedures for an early warning system in the event of nuclear accidents is an important matter. We are working on this issue [and] we hope to sign it as soon as possible and immediately after that to hold joint exercises during which these procedures will be worked out."

The commission also discussed work now under way at Andreeva Bay in the Murmansk region of Russia and safety at the Kola nuclear power plant.

"We have had a good cooperation, and it is very important to us to continue this, meeting regularly to report on the results of this cooperation," said Oleg Kryukov, Rosatom's director of state policy on radioactive waste, used nuclear fuel and decommissioning of nuclear and radioactive facilities.

Kryukov added that the commission had "long ago reached the level of constructive and concrete dialogue".

"We are already no longer concerned with a general concept - that has long been agreed - but with the disagreements that can sometimes occur over details. But these [details] are all about one thing - how to rid the North-West of Russia of used nuclear fuel, how to recycle radioactive waste, how to do this and in what timeframe," he said.

Political sanctions imposed by the European Union and the USA against Russia have not disrupted the implementation of Rosatom's joint projects, he said, adding, "the most important of which is the one with Norway for Andreeva Bay". The region will have the infrastructure required for the safe reprocessing, export and storage of its radioactive waste as early as 2017, he said.

"Naturally, [Rosatom] could carry out the work independently, but Norwegian co-financing helps us to ensure that it takes place at a faster pace. It is also important that the Norwegian side can directly control the objects created using its resources and to monitor how its funds are used," he said.

FSUE RosRAO - a Moscow-based Rosatom company providing commercial back-end radwaste and decommissioning services - has its northern centre, SevRAO, in the Murmansk region. SevRAO is engaged in remediation of the sites of Navy Northern Fleet bases, and dismantling of retired nuclear-powered naval ships and submarines. In May 2014, SevRAO signed a RUR100 million ($1.85 million) contract with Norway's Finnmark to upgrade the Andreeva Bay storage facility. This was set up in the 1960s but closed after an accident in 1982, and resumed operation with Norway's support in late 1990s.

Used fuel from Russian-built foreign power and research reactors is repatriated, much of it through the port of Murmansk. Some 70 containers were unloaded and moved south by rail over 2008-2014.

Rosatom and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development manage their so-called Nuclear Window program - part of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, which originates from the European Union's Northern Dimension Initiative to promote cooperation between countries of the Baltic and Arctic Sea regions. The objective of Nuclear Window, which started in May 2003, is to provide funding for projects that will mitigate the legacy of the operation of nuclear-powered ships and submarines of the Northern fleet in Russia that are at different stages of decommissioning.

The Kola nuclear power plant provides half of the electricity needs of the Murmansk region. Units 1 and 2 went online in 1973 and 1974, respectively, and are part of Russia's first generation of pressurized water reactors – the VVER 440/230 type. Units 3 and 4 went online in 1981 and 1984 with the improved VVER 440/213 reactors.

Units 1 and 2 were originally schedule to be shut down in 2003 and 2004, but instead their operating lives were extended following safety upgrade work financed in part by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USA.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News