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22
Cleaning Up Sites Contaminated with Radioactive Materials: Coastal Maintenance Bases Andreev Bay and Gremikha

Dieter K. Rudolph, Science Applications International Corporation

INTRODUCTION

During the Cold War the Soviet Union built 248 nuclear-powered submarines. Very few older submarines were retired as more capable ones joined the fleet. About two-thirds of the submarines were assigned to the Northern Fleet in northwestern Russia. This area covers Murmansk Oblast, where Andreev Bay and Gremikha are located on the Kola Peninsula, and Arkhangelsk Oblast, where Zvezdochka, one of the nuclear submarine dismantlement shipyards, is located in Severodvinsk.

The coastal maintenance bases at Andreev Bay and Gremikha began operating in the early 1960s to support Northern Fleet nuclear submarine operations and to manage spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Andreev Bay serviced only submarines with pressurized water reactors and operated until 1985. Gremikha also serviced the liquid-metal coolant reactors for the Alpha-class nuclear submarines based there. Operations at Gremikha ceased in 1992. After years of neglect, responsibility for the coastal maintenance bases was transferred from the Russian Navy to the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) in 2000. The special Northern Federal Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management (SevRAO) was established within Minatom (now Rosatom [Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency]) to provide administrative oversight and management of the facilities. The coastal maintenance bases were renamed as spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste



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22 Cleaning Up Sites Contaminated with Radioactive Materials: Coastal Maintenance Bases Andreev Bay and Gremikha Dieter K. Rudolph, Science Applications International Corporation INTRODUCTION During the Cold War the Soviet Union built 248 nuclear-powered subma- rines. Very few older submarines were retired as more capable ones joined the fleet. About two-thirds of the submarines were assigned to the Northern Fleet in northwestern Russia. This area covers Murmansk Oblast, where Andreev Bay and Gremikha are located on the Kola Peninsula, and Arkhangelsk Oblast, where Zvezdochka, one of the nuclear submarine dismantlement shipyards, is located in Severodvinsk. The coastal maintenance bases at Andreev Bay and Gremikha began operat- ing in the early 1960s to support Northern Fleet nuclear submarine operations and to manage spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Andreev Bay serviced only submarines with pressurized water reactors and operated until 1985. Gremikha also serviced the liquid-metal coolant reactors for the Alpha-class nuclear subma- rines based there. Operations at Gremikha ceased in 1992. After years of neglect, responsibility for the coastal maintenance bases was transferred from the Russian Navy to the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) in 2000. The special Northern Federal Enterprise for Radioactive Waste Management (SevRAO) was estab- lished within Minatom (now Rosatom [Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency]) to provide administrative oversight and management of the facilities. The coastal maintenance bases were renamed as spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste 11

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12 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS temporary storage facilities—TSFA (Andreev Bay) and TSFG (Gremikha)—to reflect their current status. Mass Decommissioning After the collapse of the Soviet Union, severe reductions in defense spending left the Russian Federation Navy unable to maintain a large, active submarine fleet and its supporting infrastructure, including the coastal maintenance bases. Routine facility maintenance of coastal maintenance bases ceased. In 1994, only 35 percent of the funds earmarked for the Russian Northern Fleet were actually transferred.1 The lack of funds and the fact that many of the first- and second- generation nuclear submarines exceeded their service life led to mass decom- missioning and the neglect of the supporting infrastructure, including the coastal maintenance bases. The large influx of spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste, and toxic waste associated with decommissioning and dismantling nuclear subma- rines overwhelmed an already burdened system, resulting in severe problems of safe management of spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste, and toxic waste. Another factor in reducing the fleet size was the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which required the elimination of more than 40 ballistic submarines with more than 600 ballistic missile launchers.2 Although it increased the number of submarines to be dismantled, it had a positive effect because the United States funded the modernization of dismantlement facilities at a number of shipyards, including Zvezdochka in the northwest and in Russia’s Far East Region through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This program eliminated bottlenecks in spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management and until recently paid for the dismantlement of the entire ballistic submarines. Now, funding is lim- ited to removal of the launcher tubes and reactor compartments. The facilities provided through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program are available for Russian “general purpose” (nonballistic nuclear submarines) dismantlement on a not-to-interfere basis. As of February 2007, a total of 198 nuclear submarines were decommis- sioned and 148 were dismantled. In the Northern Fleet, 120 nuclear submarines were decommissioned and 97 are dismantled. Ten Northern Fleet submarines are in the process of being dismantled.3 1 Nikitin, A., I. Kudrik, and T. Nilsen. 1996. The Russian Northern Fleet: Sources of Radioac- tive Contamination. Bellona Foundation: Oslo, p. 15. Available online at www.bellona.org/reports/ The_Russian_Northern_Fleet. 2 Federation of American Scientists: www.fas.org/nuke/control/start2/. 3Akhunov, V. 2007. Progress on Dismantlement of Nuclear Submarines under the Global Partner- ship International Cooperation. Presented at the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership- Nuclear Operating Committee/Contact Experts Group Workshop on Results of Strategic Master Plan, Phase 2, London, April 10, 2007. Available online at www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/ CEG/documents/ws0200_1E.pdf.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES Spent Nuclear Fuel Management Russia uses a “closed fuel cycle” that requires reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel at the Mayak Chemical Complex to recover uranium. Spent nuclear fuel is transported in special containers that can hold up to 49 fuel assemblies. Ten to 12 containers are needed to defuel one submarine, since the typical Russian nuclear submarine has two reactors, and each reactor holds about 248-252 fuel assemblies. The spent nuclear fuel containers are transported by technical support vessels from Andreev Bay and Gremikha to two facilities in northwest Russia: RTP Atomflot in Murmansk or Zvezdochka Shipyard in Arkhangelsk. The con- tainers can be loaded directly onto special railcars or placed in storage until the railcar arrives. One train typically transports 12 containers—the fuel from one submarine—for a distance of more than 2,000 km to Mayak. Certain fuel cannot be reprocessed at Mayak. This includes fuel from liquid metal coolant reactors, damaged fuel stored at Andreev Bay and Gremikha, fuel stored on the Lepse (a technical support vessel that is the biggest nuclear and radiation risk of all retired nuclear service ships in Russia), and zirconium-clad fuel from nuclear icebreak- ers. Special provisions must be made for the management of this fuel. SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE TEMPORARY STORAGE FACILITY ANDREEV BAY Andreev Bay is one of four naval facilities of the Zapadnaya Litsa Naval Base, the largest Northern Fleet base that maintains most of the active nuclear submarines. Andreev Bay, located along the western side of the Litsa Fjord, is the only facility where no submarines are based. It is strictly used as a storage facility for spent fuel and radioactive waste and is only 45 km from the Norwe- gian border. The other three facilities—Bolshaya Lopatka, Malaya Lopatka, and Nerpichya—are situated along the eastern side of the fjord. The Typhoon-class ballistic submarines are based at Nerpicha, the only facility with a rail connec- tion. The military families live in Zaozersk, a closed administrative town with about 30,000 inhabitants. Andreev Bay has the largest inventory of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste: 22,000 spent fuel assemblies, 18,000 m3 of solid radioactive waste, and 3,400 m3 of liquid radioactive waste. Routine maintenance at the base stopped in 1993, and with the harsh Arctic conditions it did not take long for most of the infrastructure to be destroyed, including heat, water, power supply, and sewage. 4 In October 2001 the U.S. Department of Energy hosted an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) contact expert group workshop at Idaho Falls, Idaho, to consider international assistance on reducing contamination and safety risks as- 4Vasiliev, A. P. 2009. The past, present, and future of the facilities at Andreev Bay. Pp. 127-136 in Cleaning Up Sites Contaminated with Radioactive Materials: International Workshop Proceedings. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS sociated with spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management at Andreev Bay. This served as a catalyst for international cooperative efforts that include Norway, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Spent Nuclear Fuel The Soviet spent nuclear fuel management policy in effect when Andreev Bay began operating in the early 1960s required wet storage in cooling pools for 5 to 7 years before the fuel was sent for reprocessing at Mayak. The spent nuclear fuel, housed in special containers holding five to six spent fuel assemblies, was unloaded from technical support vessels onto trucks for further transport to Build- ing 5, where the containers were suspended by chains into two small cooling pools. By 1973, additional spent nuclear fuel storage was required and an annex with two larger cooling pools was constructed. In 1982 a leak in one of the large cooling pools was discovered. Efforts to stop the leak by pouring concrete into the pool and under the building foundation were not successful. Leakage was also detected in the second large pool. Some of the spent nuclear fuel canisters fell to the bottom of the pool after restraining chains broke, and cesium-137 and strontium-90 penetrated into the ground beneath the building with the leaking cooling water contaminating a creek flowing under the building.5 The walls of the building and the foundation were saturated with radioactive substances and have a dose equivalent rate between 9,000-20,000 μSv per hour. Efforts are under way to determine the extent and depth of soil contamination along the foundation. Some of the ground between Building 5 and the coastline has a dose equivalent rate of 450 μSv per hour. The sediment at the bottom of the cooling pools may contain spent nuclear fuel fragments. As an emergency measure, the Soviet Navy decided to reconfigure three large, 1,000 m3 storage tanks for temporary (5-7 years) dry storage of the spent nuclear fuel from Building 5. The tanks were designed to hold liquid radioactive waste but were not used for this purpose. They were modified by installing steel cylinders 25-27 cm in diameter, about 1,000 cylinders per tank, and then filling the space between the cylinders with concrete. A container holding up to seven fuel assemblies was then inserted into each cylinder. Dry storage units (DSUs) 3A, 2A, and 2B were placed in operation as they were completed in 1983, 1985, and 1986, respectively, and the transfer of spent nuclear fuel from Building 5 was completed in 1989. The 6-year service life of the dry storage units expired long ago. Groundwater has penetrated through the floors, the roofs leak, and many of the spent nuclear fuel cells contain water. A comprehensive engineering and radiological survey revealed that cells in DSU 2B and 3A are filled with high 5Vasiliev, A. P., V. P. Vasoukhno, M. E. Netecha, et al. 2006. Radiological Condition of Andreeva Bay Territory and Water Area. Universal Decimal Classification number 621.039.76+614.876. Avail- able online at www.bellona.org/filearchie/fil_AndreeaBayRadiationSurey_eng.pdf.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES salt content water, including chlorides, which is degrading the spent nuclear fuel. Calculations by Russian and British experts using “conservative assumptions” indicate a spontaneous chain reaction may occur during retrieval if the bottom of a canister containing the fuel breaks off during lifting.6 Spent nuclear fuel is also stored on an open pad near the DSUs. More than 360 fuel assemblies are stored in old TK-6 and TK-11 containers. Most of the spent nuclear fuel is damaged. Special provisions are required for the manage- ment of damaged spent fuel, since it cannot be reprocessed at Mayak. One of the DSUs contains icebreaker fuel that has zirconium cladding, and this fuel also cannot be reprocessed at Mayak. In summary, an accurate inventory of spent nuclear fuel does not exist, the condition of the fuel is unknown, and therefore procedures for safe management have not been developed. Facilities for repackaging this spent nuclear fuel do not exist. The final disposition of the fuel has not been decided, since there is much damaged fuel that cannot be reprocessed at Mayak. Solid Radioactive Waste Andreev Bay has the largest accumulation of solid radioactive waste, and it is stored on three open pads and in seven storage vaults. The solid radioactive waste volume was originally estimated at 6,000 m3, but based on recent surveys this was increased to about 18,000 m3. Some of the storage areas contain a mix of high-, medium-, and low-level solid radioactive waste, and the survey of sub- surface facilities has not been completed. There is no facility for processing solid radioactive waste, and additional radioactive waste will be generated as spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management activities are implemented. Liquid Radioactive Waste Andreev Bay has the largest volume of liquid radioactive waste—more than 3,000 m3. The liquid radioactive waste management facility was constructed, but the equipment was not installed. The centralized collection system for liquid radioactive waste has been destroyed. The service life of all liquid radioactive waste storage tanks has expired. The leaks in spent nuclear fuel DSUs 2B and 3A and in subsurface solid radioactive waste facilities continue to generate additional liquid radioactive waste. About 60 metric tons of water per year seep through the solid radioactive waste storage pad foundation into the basement of Building 6. About 300 metric tons of liquid radioactive waste has accumulated in the “dry” storage units, where spent nuclear fuel is stored. Liquid radioactive waste is also found in the solid radioactive waste storage vaults, again due to leaks. There is no facility for liquid radioactive waste treatment other than RTP Atomflot. 6Vasiliev, op. cit.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS Grounds and Aquatic Area Building 5 and the solid radioactive waste storage pad are sources of radio- active contamination for the territory. A large area between Building 5 and the coastline is contaminated with radionuclides at a depth of 1 m. The creek water contamination levels from Building 5 remain unchanged since 1982. This sup- ports the assumption that the leaks from the cooling pools were major and that radionuclides penetrated the soil and underground formations. Areas around the solid radioactive waste storage pad indicate contamination of the soil is substan- tially higher than permitted. Aquatic surveys were conducted in 1997 and 1999. Several hot spots were identified where the creek enters the bay areas and along the coastline closest to the solid radioactive waste storage pad. No surveys have been conducted since 1999. Ongoing Efforts The infrastructure has been improved to address the most pressing problems. Facilities for workers have been installed, the road has been repaired, and a radiation-monitoring system is being installed. This is an international effort, with Norway taking the lead on infrastructure improvements and conducting initial site and radiation surveys. Sweden is responsible for surveys of liquid radioactive waste and the open solid radioactive waste storage sites. The United Kingdom has the lead on a comprehensive engineering and radiation survey of spent nuclear fuel in the DSUs and in Building 5. DSUs 2B and 3A require special procedures for spent nuclear fuel removal. Workshop Discussions During the workshop, the following questions and concerns were raised and addressed: • A radiation-monitoring system tied into a central monitoring site will monitor all hazardous areas, which will keep workers safe during all stages of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste removal. • Spent nuclear fuel management is a priority issue. Handling procedures for the old TK-6 and TK-11 spent nuclear fuel casks and canisters with spent nuclear fuel from the cells of the dry storage unit are developed. Procedures for handling and processing damaged fuel have been developed. The transport of spent nuclear fuel is planned by using a vessel that will be provided by Italy. There is a plan to construct a spent nuclear fuel transfer pad at Andreev Bay so that the fuel can be sent to Mayak via Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk, where there is an onshore defueling facility constructed by the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. There was also mention of the possibility of building

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1 CLEANING UP SITES a new bridge solely for the transport of spent nuclear fuel, as the existing bridge is old and must be inspected before each spent fuel shipment. • There are plans to process liquid and solid radioactive wastes onsite so that the backlog does not increase. • Creation of a special category of very low-level waste (0.3-100 Bq/g) is being considered. The bulk of the radioactive waste at Andreev Bay—namely soil and structural components—falls into this category. France and Sweden are using this category, as it allows for simplified cost-saving disposal procedures. The following additional points were made during the presentation and are also applicable to Gremikha: • Consider mobile containerized systems for solid and liquid radioactive waste management for ease of transport and possible future reuse. A mobile solid radioactive waste treatment facility and a modular storage complex were installed by the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation Program at Shipyard 10, Polyarny. • Accurate characterization of the waste stream is essential for proper waste processing. SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE TEMPORARY STORAGE FACILITY GREMIKHA Gremikha is located about 35 km east of the mouth of the Murmansk Fjord and is accessible only by sea or helicopter. Climatic conditions are severe, with abrupt temperature variations. The strong humid winds with speeds greater than 15 m per second gave rise to the nickname “land of the flying dogs.” Winter storms can keep Gremikha isolated for extended periods. Ostrovnoi, a closed administrative town, provides the workforce for the base. The population is shrinking, down from 10,000 in 2004 to only 3,000 inhabitants in 2007. Rou- tine transport of supplies and people is provided by the support vessel Kladia Yelanskaya. Cargo cannot exceed 2 metric tons, because of weight limitations. Murmansk and Arkhangelsk are equidistant at 400 km, and therefore both RTP Atomflot and Zvezdochka are viable options as spent nuclear fuel transshipment sites. As a coastal maintenance base, Gremikha was the home base for the Alpha- class submarines, known for their high speed, titanium hulls, and liquid-metal coolant reactors with fuel enrichment up to 90 percent. Refueling Alpha-class submarines requires removal and replacement of the reactor core. This process requires special facilities, including a dry dock (Building 2) specifically modified for this purpose, a reactor refueling building (Building 1A), a spent removable core storage facility (Building 1B), and a boiler house to heat the lead-bismuth alloy to greater than 125°C to keep it liquid. The base managed the refueling

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1 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS of both liquid-metal coolant and pressurized water reactors until its operations ceased in 1992. Most of the infrastructure is now degraded and much of the equipment is inoperable. Spent Removable Cores and Spent Nuclear Fuel Constructed in 1989, Building 1A was designed for the unloading and tem- porary storage of spent removable cores from liquid-metal coolant reactors of the Alpha-class submarine. The dry dock and handling equipment for removing spent removable cores has been restored and is in working condition. One core was removed in 2005 and another was removed in 2006. Eight cores are currently in special storage facilities. The service life of the storage facilities expires in 2008, but steps are under way to improve the facilities and upgrade the monitoring system and subcriticality control system so that its service life can be extended to 2015. There is a problem with long-term storage of spent removable cores. The original design presumed that after several years of cooling the cores would be transported to the reprocessing plant because of their relatively small subcriti- cality. Studies have shown that during “freezing” of the spent removable core, pores and cavities can form in the eutectic, and criticality can be reached with the ingress of 20 kg of water. The spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste are stored in nonstandard con- ditions. Protective barriers of many spent fuel assemblies and solid and liquid radioactive waste containers leak, so further environmental contamination is evi- dent. The infrastructure does not provide nuclear and radiation safety protection, especially for liquid-metal coolant fuel assemblies and spent reactor cores. For more than 30 years, 116 old TK-6 and TK-11 spent nuclear fuel contain- ers have been stored on an uncovered outdoor pad mixed with solid radioactive waste. Many of the containers have leaking lids, and water has entered some of the containers. It is estimated that almost 800 spent fuel assemblies are in the containers on the pad. A detailed inventory of the containers and fuel assemblies has started. The pad poses a real threat to the environment and contaminates the territory.7 Based on preliminary findings, it is estimated that more than 30 percent of the fuel is damaged. Building 1 has four ferroconcrete cooling pools for the storage of spent fuel assemblies from pressurized water reactors. Pool 1 began leaking in 1986 and is one of the main sources of radioactive contamination of the site.8 Spent fuel 7 IAEA Contact Expert Group Database, Project 45, FR2: Gremikha Site: Feasibility study for the re- habilitation and urgent actions. Available online at cegdb.iaea.org/ProjectDetails.aspx?ProjID=. 8 Kovalenko, V. N., and V. A. Mazokin. 2003. Situation at the Gremikha Base: Main Problems and General Plan for Remediation. Paper presented at the IAEA Contact Experts Group Workshop in Cadarache, France, October 29-31, 2003. Available online at www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/ CEG/documents/ws10200_koalenko-e.pdf.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES assemblies are stored in 106 old canisters (shrouds) in three of the pools. It is estimated that more than two-thirds of the fuel is damaged and requires special handling because of bending, swelling, and breaks in the fuel rods. Special equip- ment and procedures will be required for the safe handling and transport of the fuel. Solid Radioactive Waste About 800 m3 of mixed solid radioactive waste (high-, intermediate-, and low-level) is stored in a variety of places, including Building 19, the sumps of the decontamination pad near Building 1, and the open solid radioactive waste storage pad. The Integrated Engineering and Radiation Survey conducted in 2006 identified high-level solid radioactive waste in Sumps 1 and 2 near Building 1 and in concrete containers on the open storage pad. The plan is to treat the high-level waste in the sumps as a separate project because special devices for removal into shielded containers will be required. Additional solid radioactive waste will be generated as work proceeds with spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management processes, decontamination of equipment, and rehabilitation of buildings, grounds, and aquatic areas. About 1,500 m3 of solid radioactive waste will be generated as part of the remediation efforts. Liquid Radioactive Waste Plans for a liquid radioactive waste treatment plant and a cementation facility for liquid radioactive waste never materialized. A number of underground tanks are used for storage of liquid radioactive waste as well as floating tanks. The total volume of liquid radioactive waste is about 150 m3. High- and intermediate-level liquid radioactive waste is found in the spent fuel containers on the open solid radioactive waste storage pad. It is expected that an additional 300 m 3 of waste will be generated as part of the remediation efforts. Grounds and Aquatic Area The open solid radioactive waste storage pad is the most contaminated area at Gremikha. It sits on a hill, and the rain and snowmelt wash contaminants into the grounds and the aquatic area. Many of the spent fuel and radioactive waste containers as well as the liquid radioactive waste tanks are degraded and contami- nate the grounds and aquatic area. There is a trend towards further contamination of the environment.9 9 StrategicMaster Plan Decommissioning of Retired Nuclear Fleet and Environmental Rehabilita- tion of its Supporting Infrastructure in Northwest Russia, Part 1. Characteristics of the Facilities Subject to Decommissioning (Rehabilitation), Goals and Determination of Priority Project Lists.

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10 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS Ongoing Efforts Radiation surveys were conducted in 1999 and 2003. The following excerpt from a June 23, 2003, letter from V. D. Safutin, director of the Russian Research and Design Institute of Power Technology (VNIPIET), to SevRAO and the In- ternational Center for Environmental Safety summarizes what was accomplished during this period: “. . . no real work aimed at improving conditions at the coastal technical base in Gremikha was performed in the period. The spent fuel assem- blies within casks TK 6 and TK 11 and the radioactive waste storage facilities continue to deteriorate, thus impairing the environment. Practically the entire infrastructure has been destroyed, making the previously developed technologi- cal approaches to spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste management of little use . . . .”10 International attention was not focused on the problems at Gremikha until October 2003, when the IAEA Contact Experts Group organized a special work- shop at Cadarache, France, to stimulate international cooperation. The workshop participants identified priority tasks and feasibility studies for the management of spent nuclear fuel from pressurized water reactors and liquid-metal coolant reactors and management of radioactive waste, as well as projects at the site. The 12 highest priority projects are focused on ensuring the radiation safety of workers, restoring the facility’s basic infrastructure, and completing an integrated engineering and radiation survey of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. A detailed survey of spent nuclear fuel on the solid radioactive waste pad and in Building 1 is ongoing. The fuel assemblies from pressurized water reactors require special procedures and equipment for handling and transport. Because the containers have leaking lids and some lids cannot be opened, they must be repackaged before transport. Italy plans to design and provide new containers. Issues regarding management and reprocessing of spent removable cores from liquid coolant reactors and their reprocessing technology have not been resolved, and this is an urgent issue. Efforts are under way to extend the service life of the reactor core storage facility to 2015 by improving the monitoring system. International partners include France, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the European Commission (Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States Program), and Italy. Workshop Discussions The following questions and concerns were raised and addressed: 10Vasiliev, A. P. 2003. Projects Proposals for Radioactive Waste Management, Remediation of Build- ings, Structures and Territory of Temporary SNF and RW Storage Facility in Gremikha. Paper presented at the IAEA Contact Experts Group Workshop in Cadarache, France, October 29-31, 2003. Available online at www.iaea.or.at/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/CEG/documents/ws10200_asilie-e.pdf.

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11 CLEANING UP SITES • Environmental remediation of Gremikha is a complex problem that will take time. The strategy is to remediate the site stage by stage, making incremental improvements in the security and safety of the facility. This includes providing secure and safe intermediate storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste at Gremikha; the final storage site will be determined later. Existing facilities will be used for secondary radioactive waste storage once they are secured and until the final end state of remediation at Gremikha is determined. • It is estimated that rehabilitation of Gremikha will cost 187 million euros and can be accomplished in 12 to 20 years, depending on the final decision as to the future use of Gremikha. The work will be done in four stages: 1. Conversion: complex engineering and radiation examination, main- tenance, and secure and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste 2. Temporal operation: removal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from the site 3. Decommissioning: dismantlement of facilities and buildings 4. Cleanup: decontamination of facilities, grounds, and aquatic areas • A special presentation on criteria of ecological rehabilitation of Gremikha was provided. A number of options including “brown field” and “green field” status were investigated. Multiattribute decision analysis was used to identify a solution. Ensuing discussions pointed out that this approach should be used as a tool in finding a solution, but not to identify a specific solution. • Italy will provide special handling equipment for the old TK-6 and TK-11 spent nuclear fuel containers. They will also build or provide a ship for transport of the containers. The Lotte is also considered for transport if the Italian ship does not arrive in time. • A number of sites with special “hot chambers” have been considered for defueling the spent removable cores, including Obninsk and Dimitrovgrad, and the latter will probably be the site that is selected. • The shrinking workforce (from 10,000 to 3,000) is a problem. A final decision on the special status of the town has not been made. • Measures to extend the service life of the reactor core storage facility are in progress, but the presence of europium in the spent removable cores presents a problem that remains unresolved. • There was also mention of building a new bridge just for the transport of spent nuclear fuel, as the existing bridge is old and must be inspected before each spent nuclear fuel shipment. STRATEGIC MASTER PLAN SMP-1: The scope and complexity of dismantling the nuclear vessels taken out of service and restoring the support bases into environmentally acceptable

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12 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS condition requires an overall strategy to guide Russia and its international part- ners in defining and prioritizing projects. The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (the first phase of the Strategic Master Plan SMP-1) was completed in 2004. This phase of the plan provides a detailed analysis and a conceptual strategy for addressing the Northern Fleet nuclear legacy issues of dismantling nuclear-powered vessels (submarines and surface ships), along with their reactor units and technical support vessels, including those operated by RTP Atomflot, and cleaning up coastal maintenance bases (Andreev Bay and Gremikha). SMP-1 identified, but did not rank, 21 high-priority and 24 priority measures requiring critical attention. Two-thirds of the high-priority measures pertain to Andreev Bay or Gremikha or both, as shown in Table 22-1. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) SMP-1 was evaluated by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Devel- opment to assess the environmental impact and risks of planned activities to the population. The strategic environmental assessment (SEA) was completed in 2005. Considering the accidental release of radioactivity into the environment the main threat, the SEA further analyzed the SMP high-priority and priority measures as follows: • The highest overall priority is the refurbishment of the Gremikha reactor storage facility and the subsequent decommissioning of the reactor cores from the defueled Alpha-class submarines “due to the high risk of a nuclear accident that would result if a relatively small amount of water were to leak into the stor- age facility.” In a footnote, the authors of the SEA explain that “recent Russian studies found that the ingress of water into the cores of Alpha-class submarines is not feasible. If confirmed, then addressing the state of storage of these cores TABLE 22-1 High-Priority Measures from the Strategic Master Plan Measure Andreev Bay Gremikha Safe management of spent nuclear fuel X X Safe management of spent removable cores X Integrated engineering and radiation survey of buildings, structures, X X grounds, and aquatic area, including an inventory of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste Restoration of infrastructure for spent nuclear fuel management X X Restoration of infrastructure for spent removable core management X Reconstruction of the spent removable core storage facility X Provision of physical protection of the site X X Provision of radiation safety of personnel X X Elimination of open-air storage pad X

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1 CLEANING UP SITES would be a lower priority.” During the workshop, these recent studies were not mentioned. • The second-highest priority is the decommissioning of the spent nuclear fuel storage facilities at Andreev Bay and Gremikha “due to the poor storage conditions, the high radionuclide inventory, and leakage of radioactivity into the environment, and the risk of nuclear accidents at these facilities.” 11 An important aspect of the SEA was the scoping consultations with the pub- lic, government and regional authorities, experts, industry, and nongovernment organizations to inform them about the SMP and to listen to concerns and sug- gestions. The public asked to be kept informed and that the proceedings should be transparent. SMP-2: The second phase of the SMP is planned for completion by August 2007. The goal is to provide a fully justified integrated program for the decom- missioning and rehabilitation of Navy facilities in northwestern Russia. A key part of the integrated approach is the Priority Project Program, which addresses the high-priority and priority measures identified in the first phase of the SMP. Priority projects for Andreev Bay include construction of spent nuclear fuel management facilities to prepare for spent nuclear fuel removal and solid radioac- tive waste management facilities for long-term storage and subsequent removal. Priority projects for Gremikha include ensuring safe storage of Alpha-class spent removable cores and removal of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste from open pads. It is important to note that the SMP only addresses naval nuclear legacy is- sues in northwestern Russia. It does not address nuclear legacy issues in Russia’s Pacific Fleet, where some experts believe the problems are actually more severe, and it does not include an analysis of civilian spent fuel, which provides the primary input for reprocessing spent fuel at Mayak. CONCLUSIONS 1. The problems at Andreev Bay and Gremikha are similar, only the scale of the problem is smaller at Gremikha. The Andreev Bay Coordination Group and the Gremikha Coordination Group must be closely linked so that lessons learned at one site may be applied to the other. 2. Existing regulations governing the cleanup of radioactive contaminated sites seem to be ineffective, and more specific policy is required. Laws and regulations address normal conditions and are not adequate in addressing the ex- ceptionally unsatisfactory circumstances found at Andreev Bay and Gremikha. 11 Strategic Environmental Assessment Report for Strategic Master Plan of Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (Nuclear Window), NNC Document Registry Info: 12124/TR/002, April 2005.

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1 CLEANING UP SITES CONTAMINATED WITH RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS 3. To date, international efforts have focused primarily on submarine dis- mantlement and not the most urgent problems, namely spent reactor core and damaged fuel management and storage. It is important to move from the feasibil- ity study phase to tangible work as quickly as possible. 4. A long-term solution must be found for spent fuel that cannot be re- processed at Mayak. This includes fuel from liquid-metal coolant reactors, dam- aged fuel stored at Andreev Bay and Gremikha, fuel stored on the Lepse, and zirconium-clad fuel from nuclear icebreakers. An interim storage facility has been constructed at RTP Atomflot in Murmansk for temporary storage of this fuel, but a long-term solution is needed. 5. Consultations held during the SEA indicated that the public wants to be kept informed in nontechnical terms on the progress of cleanup efforts. Keep the public informed and keep the proceedings transparent as the SMP is implemented. 6. The general requirements of how agencies will work together are un- clear. For example, certification of the spent nuclear fuel interim storage and transfer pad built by the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation at RTP Atomflot in Murmansk was delayed due to Russian agency jurisdictional dis- putes. The pad uses the Murmansk Shipping Company crane to lift the spent nuclear fuel casks. The Murmansk Shipping Company reports to the Ministry of Transportation. RTP Atomflot, which operates the pad, reports to Rosatom, and is regulated by the Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (Rostekhnadzor). The spent fuel is naval fuel, and the Ministry of Defense has responsibility, with regulatory oversight provided by the military inspectorate for nuclear and radiation safety. During a meeting with Rostekhnadzor in June 2007, it was confirmed that this jurisdictional problem still exists. This problem needs to be resolved. 7. Donor countries should not fund projects that will increase Russian military capabilities. The dual-use (civilian-military) issue was a factor in Japan’s decision not to fund a railroad link at Zvezda, the Russian dismantlement ship- yard for the Pacific Fleet, since it could be used for refueling active-duty subma- rines. The dual-use consideration should also be applied by foreign donors to the request for funding to repair a bridge across the Severnaya Dvina River, which is used by trains transporting nuclear fuel, both spent and fresh. 8. SMP strategy is too narrowly focused on only Northern Fleet spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. It does not address Pacific Fleet issues, and more importantly, in trying to identify bottlenecks, omits consideration of civilian sources of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste and the impact this has on Mayak. 9. The end state of Gremikha and Andreev Bay has not been decided. This decision needs to be made soon, as it will determine the extent of work required. 10. The workforce at Gremikha is declining. In the late 1980s, when

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175 CLEANING UP SITES Gremikha was an active base, the population of Ostrovnoi was 30,000. As the base closed and operations ceased, the town’s population decreased to 10,000 by 199812 and is now 3,000. The status of Ostrovnoi as a “closed military town” is about to change, and the special compensations provided by the government to keep the workforce in place will end. A continued decline in the population and thus the workforce is expected. This will have a significant impact on implemen- tation of projects to clean up and rehabilitate the site. 12 Kudrik, Igor. 1998. Gremikha to grip share in subs decommissioning. Brief paper posted online at www.bellona.org/english_import_area/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/decommissioning/ 7692. Oslo: Bellona Foundation.

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