Nuclear deposit will turn into a green lawn. Maybe

The citizens of the Arkhangelsk region have considered this area extremely dangerous. Going to the Mironov Mountain was a bad sign. Ten years ago, people did not even realize that they were growing their carrots and potatoes next to a real radioactive dump. This area (that used to be of top secrecy but was then then forgotten) gave birth to many legends and horrible rumors.

Nuclear technologies were being developed in the early 1960s, and there were a lot of unpredictable and unclear things about the nuclear wastes. The site for constructing a complex of buildings to store nuclear waste was chosen in September of 1957. The site was located 12 kilometers from the city of Severodvinsk. This would never be done nowadays, for it is generally believed now that such a site must be located not less than 50-70 kilometers from a settlement.

The storage for nuclear waste was built with the use of the latest technologies of that time. However, the construction of several objects on Mironov Mountain was not completed: fire-fighting, ventilation, drainage and other systems were not finished. The objects were put into effect in December of 1961 and in October of 1962. The storage was filled with nuclear waste very quickly until 1968, the peak of the nuclear opposition between the USA and the USSR. No one discussed the question of whethere the country was in need of nuclear subs or not; they were built at all costs. The operation of the storage was allegedly stopped at the end of 1968, but the construction of nuclear submarines continued, and more waste kept arriving until 1979 (no spent uranium was stored there fortunately). By this year, the place was filled with 1840 cubic meters of nuclear waste of low and medium activity.

The nuclear graveyard was recollected only in 1990, when the geological exploration concern detected the increased level of gamma-emission. When the storage was opened in 1991, it was discovered that it was filled with water. If water linking into the storage, then there must be a way for it leave the storage. Therefore, it happens that radiation was spreading to every spring with the underground water.

In 1992, the storage was put in operation again. In 1994, there was a complex engineering examination performed and a contract signed with a scientific institute of St.Petersburg for developing technical solutions in order to shut the storage down.

Radio Liberty shocked the world with its message of 1995: “Mushroomers found a secret deposit of nuclear wastes. The storage is in a dilapidated condition; it is not known what will to happen with it in the future.” After that, the nuclear storage was provided with security: its “roof” was covered with another layer of asphalt, and dosimetric control was performed on regular basis.

Everyone is sure now - both independent ecologists and officials – that everything is the fault of the people of the 1960s, when the storage was built and filled. Today, the situation is as follows: the Ministry for Atomic Power assigned six million rubles to Sevmash Enterprise in 2002 (this enterprise is in charge of the deposit) within the scope of the targeted federal program “Radiation and Nuclear Security of Russia.” The storage will be equipped with additional system of isolation and impervious protection.

Specialists of Sevmash Enterprise say that the nuclear deposit is not dangerous at present moment. There has been a contract concluded with a scientific institute of St.Petersburg that has already offered four variants for abolishing the storage. Sevmash agreed upon the fourth variant that was called “Green Lawn.” The storage will be opened in a special way,;hard wastes will be reloaded into containers, and liquids will be processed and then prepared for shipment. The soil will be decontaminated, grass will be sown and barriers will be lifted.

However, the leakage continues in spite of the fact that the works have already been started. Furthermore, it has recently been discovered that the condition of the Mironov Mountain nuclear storage is the best in comparison with 26 other objects of this kind in Russia.

Andrey Mikhailov PRAVDA.Ru Severodvinsk

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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