- LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's pledge of $4.8 million in aid to help
Russia deal with the nuclear waste from its decommissioned submarines is
only a miniscule amount of the total estimated clean-up costs.
- The cost of decommissioning one submarine
alone can amount to $4 million, a December 1998 document from the Foreign
- The same document said that the cost
of decommissioning about 100 Russian submarines, defueling, clearing waste
and spent fuel would run into billions of dollars and take 30-40 years
- "It is estimated that nearly $100,000
million would be required to scrap all submarines presently out of service,"
the report said.
- Foreign Secretary Robin Cook announced
the aid on Wednesday during a visit to Murmansk, home of Russia's Northern
- Although Britain's latest offering is
only a fraction of how much it will cost, Britain's commitment to helping
Russia with its massive nuclear waste problem goes back years.
- Since the break up of the Soviet Union,
British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), the state-owned nuclear group, has had
links with Russia and participated in a number of waste projects.
- The company is currently engaged in design
work with Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish partners, on a store for spent
submarine fuel, the legacy of the Soviet Union's drive to have a large
nuclear submarine fleet.
- The interim storage site is proposed
to be constructed at Mayak, central Russia, and is estimated will cost
around $100 million. BNFL is also working with the Norwegian government
to tackle the problems of waste at the Russian navy's Andreeva Bay facility
and has a team at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Station.
- Overall BNFL reckons that the potential
value of clean-up work in northwest Russia alone is worth around $400
million, a spokesman said.
- The cost of sorting out Russia's nuclear
waste is likely to be massive owing to the haphazard way spent fuel was
- One extreme example is the 15,000 tonne
barge Lepse. Built in 1936 and sunk during World War II the barge was
later refloated and used to store nuclear fuel until 1981. The vessel
is stationed in Murmansk harbor where it emits dozens of kilowatts of
residual heat from fission production decay, the Foreign Office report
said. ( (c) 1999 Reuters)