First Unloading of Spent Fuel From Submarine Done

Complex for spent nuclear fuel unloading was allowed for permanent operation

Is was for the first time that unloading of spent nuclear fuel from a nuclear submarine Typhoon was held at the Russian shipyard Zvezdochka. Workers of the enterprise, officials of the Zvezdochka nuclear security department, together with specialists of the Onega bureau were unloading spent nuclear fuel from both reactors of a submarine within about three months. The enterprise employed new technologies at that.

Earlier, when the unloading operation was done by the military, unloaded spent fuel was then delivered to the technical ship mother Malina PM-124 which had been in operation for over 20 years without repairing. The new reloading technology used at the northern shipyard includes an intermediate stage. Spent nuclear fuel gets to a special hermetically closed contained right from the reactor. The container is further loaded on a special echelon or placed to a temporary storage platform. Special infrastructure for storage of containers with spent nuclear fuel has been created at the Zvezdochka enterprise. These new facilities allow to follow an exact schedule for unloading of spent nuclear fuel from utilized nuclear submarines. The temporary storage can be used no matter if special echelons are busy or not.

On February 13 in Moscow the results of an interdepartmental commission working at Zvezdochka were summed up. According to the results, the complex for spent nuclear fuel unloading was allowed for permanent operation. Within 1992 - 1997, US's CTR program financed supplies of equipment that was essential for cutting strategic nuclear submarines to the northern city of Severodvinsk where Zvezdochka is situated, to the enterprises on Kola Peninsula and in Russia's Far East.

After 1997, CTR concluded contracts with shipyards and directly financed utilization of nuclear submarines, as the state budget lacked finance for this purpose. In 1998, in the network of the CTR program, the USA promised to finance removing of nuclear spent fuel from 15 submarines to the processing enterprise Mayak in Southern Ural. However, financing of transportation only wasn't enough. It was decided to create new infrastructure to perform unloading of spent nuclear fuel from submarines. On May 29, 1998 a contract was signed in accordance with which the USA was to finance construction of a complex for unloading of spent nuclear fuel, that was to be done in the network of the CTR program. The complex was built in the Russian city of Severodvinsk (the Arkhangelsk region) on the basis of the Zvezdochka shipyard. 

Vladislav Nikiforov

Author`s name Michael Simpson