Russia has decided not to construct a nuclear waste storage facility on the island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean. Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev announced on Saturday, July 26 that the Federal Nuclear and Radiation Safety Inspectorate had decided that the project should not go ahead.
Scientists and geologist conducted an analysis of potential changes to the region's climate and came to the conclusion that rising temperatures over the next 150-200 years threatened to thaw the region's permafrost. This could lead to leaks of the radioactive material. Rumyantsev said that the ministry is looking into building a storage facility in a remote part of the Kola Peninsula. He added that the issue was almost resolved.
The Atomic Energy Ministry had approved the construction of a USD 70 million nuclear waste storage facility on Novaya Zemlya in June 2002. The project had also been approved by experts from Finland, France, Germany, Norway and the UK and had undergone a government environmental analysis. A storage facility is needed to hold liquid radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines.