According to information from the USA, the Nunn-Lugar program is currently in its last days
The unloading of nuclear fuel from two reactors from the strategic missile nuclear submarine Typhoon ( serial number 712) is going at full speed at the shipyard Zvezdochka (Russia’s Arkhangelsk region). After the unloading of uranium from the submarine, the Typhoon will be cut to pieces. As PRAVDA.Ru has reported, a recently constructed complex for the unloading of spent nuclear fuel from submarines will be used for this purpose. The unloading of spent nuclear fuel from submarines is usually called the number one operation; this is the first time that the operation is being performed by civilian specialists from the Zvezdochka enterprise. Earlier works of this kind were performed by the staff of the Navy floating transshipping plant #1412. According to the estimates of the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, the startup of the new coastal reshipping complex will help considerably reduce the number of written off submarines with nuclear fuel on board. At the same time, this means that the nuclear and radiation menace will be reduced in the region.
The new complex also has some technological advantages. In accordance with the traditional plan of work, nuclear fuel was first unloaded onto a special transshipping vessel, the PM-63. Then, the fuel was packed into special containers, loaded onto a special train, and further sent to the enterprise Mayak in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region. Now, the spent nuclear fuel will be loaded into containers right at the coastal complex, where it will stay until a special train arrives. The construction of the new complex was financed in the network of the “Cooperative Threat Reduction” program (known also as the Nunn-Lugar program). The program is in fact the main and only source of financing for spent nuclear fuel utilization from Russian nuclear submarines. According to information from the USA, the Nunn-Lugar program is currently in its last days: the majority of the Senate members say that Russia has already received enough for the utilization of spent nuclear fuel from its nuclear submarines. Within the program’s network, missile compartments were cut out from 16 strategic nuclear subs (this is very reliable information provided by open, mostly ecological sources). And now, if the missile compartments are considered dangerous, they are dangerous first of all for Russia, as they are in fact unpredictable ecological bombs. Americans didn’t provide financing for the utilization of uranium from the nuclear reactors, but for liquidation of missiles only.
After the unloading of nuclear fuel and sealing of the reactor compartments at the Zvezdochka enterprise, the Typhoon will be returned to the Sevmashpredpriyatie enterprise, which is quite close to Zvezdochka. The reactor compartments will be delivered to the Kola peninsula, for temporary storage.
The Typhoon, the world largest nuclear submarine with a complete submerged displacement of about 33,800 thousand tons was adopted by the Navy at the end of December 1983. Its 24 ballistic missiles have frightened enemies for many years. On the whole, six Typhoons were built in Russia before 1987. The Typhoon was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world largest submarine. The submarine under the serial number 712 was the second submarine in the Typhoon family.
It is highly likely that Typhoon number 712 will be the last strategic cruiser utilized with American financing in the network of the Nunn-Lugar program. And the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy has no money for these purposes. The number of Russian submarines not in service with unloaded nuclear fuel on board is increasing every year. PRAVDA.Ru reported several times already that these places where submarines are waiting for utilization are turning into a potential ecological disaster. The problem is not only that old nuclear reactors may become depressurized or burst. The problem is that when the reactors were designed (which was dozens of years ago), nobody even thought about the consequences. Nobody knows how nuclear fuel will behave in old reactors, as no research of this kind was ever performed in Russia. Scientists can only guess how it will act. There was no time to think about the problem during the Cold War.
For reference: Typhoon (submarine’s project in number 941) has a surface displacement of 24,500 tons; the complete submerged displacement is 33,800 tons; its width is 22.8 meters, and its length is 175 meters; the draught makes up 11.5 meters. The Typhoon’s speed is 27 knots.
Vitaly Bratkov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://districts.pravda.ru/districts/2002/9/29/205/3679_oyat.html
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