Category: Decommissioning

Spent nuclear fuel from USS Enterprise – Video clip

Idaho final port-of-call for spent nuclear fuel from U.S.S. Enterprise

Click on picture for video clip

USS Enterprise

Used nuclear fuel from the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier will soon be on its way to Idaho.

The vessel will be de-commissioned on December 1st, and now the Naval Reactors Facility at the Idaho National Lab will study the fuel for research purposes.

Nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance on Tuesday said more nuclear material coming into Idaho is never a good thing because right now, one of the main objectives at the site is to get waste out of the state.

On the other side of the table, the Partnership for Science and Technology said Idaho has always been the destination for spent fuels, and they help develop new technologies.

“They hate it when you call it waste,” said Partnership for Science and Technology director Lane Allgood.

The partnership is a lobby group for Idaho’s nuclear future. Allgood said the Navy has always sent its spent nuclear fuel here.

“There’s still a lot of valuable properties in that fuel,” he said. They study that and determine how to best develop the next wave of nuclear reactors.”

Allgood said the fuel shouldn’t be looked at as waste.

But on Tuesday, Snake River Alliance nuclear program director Beatrice Brailsford said that’s exactly what it is.

“The commercial industry regards spent nuclear fuel as nuclear waste,” said Brailsford.

She said Idaho’s position as the final port-of-call for spent fuels has been a, “historical accident.”

“No one can be complacent that nuclear navy fuel comes to Idaho,” she said. “But we can also not ever accept the notion that, ‘Oh, we have a little bit of radio active waste here, let’s accept a lot more.'”

Fuel from the Enterprise is set to arrive in Idaho by 2015.

Part of a waste removal timetable allows for the Naval Reactors Facility to keep a limited amount of spent fuel past 2035.

Source – Local News8


Nuclear time bomb:’ Downed K-27 submarine must be lifted out

Nuclear time bomb:’ Downed K-27 submarine must be lifted out


A Soviet K-27 submarine suffered a nuclear accident before being dumped at the bottom of the Kara Sea 30 years ago. Russia may now have to lift the sub from dangerously shallow waters – before an “uncontrolled chain reaction” causes fatal damage.

“Radiation leakages will come sooner or later if we just leave the K-27 there. The sub has already been on the seafloor for 30 years, and it was rusty even before it was sunken. Leakages of radioactivity under water are nearly impossible to clean up,” Thomas Nilsen, a nuclear safety expert who has extensively mapped radioactive waste on the Arctic seabed, told RT.

Equipped with an experimental liquid-coolant nuclear engine, the K-27 was ill-fated from its launch in 1962. It made only three voyages, the last of which, in 1968, ended in tragedy.

A short way from its base in the Barents Sea, its reactor malfunctioned, and the brave but badly-trained crew made a futile attempt to fix it. Instead of solving the problem, they were exposed to fatal doses of radiation. Nine seamen died, most of them in hospital in agony from radiation sickness several days after the accident. The incident was kept secret by the Soviet government for decades, and the families of the victims received no compensation.

After repeated plans to redesign the sub, Soviet authorities decided it was easier to dispose of it, and towed the vessel to a remote test site in the Kara Sea, near the Arctic Ocean, in 1981.

Although international guidelines say decommissioned vessels should be buried at least 3,000 meters under the sea, the Soviet Navy scuttled it at around 75 meters.

Now, what was once one of the most remote places on Earth has become a hub of commercial activity, with the melting ice caps providing greater opportunities for shipping, and oil companies waiting to drill the seabed below the waves.

Earlier this year, environmental NGO Bellona claimed that the submarine may be reaching critical status, and now a joint Russian-Norwegian expedition is studying the site of the accident. It is expected to publish its findings in the coming weeks..

Image from

Big Oil to the rescue

Experts believe that the sub will eventually have to be removed from its current resting place.

“Russia must take responsibility for their own waste financially,” Bellona’s Igor Koudrik told the Barents Observer newspaper.

But so far, the government has not allocated any funds towards the operation.

Nilsen believes that the operation will be expensive – costing “tens of millions of euro” – and hazardous.

“Our challenge today is to find a way to lift it without shaking the reactors so much that an uncontrolled chain-reaction doesn’t start. If that happens, a large amount of radioactivity can leak out to the fragile Arctic marine environment,”Nilsen said.

The increasing presence of energy companies will not necessarily add to the problem, but could provide a solution – if they pay for the lifting of the sub.

Russian giant Rosneft is conducting a seismic study of the Kara Sea, with a view to drilling its rich oil reserves. The potential profits could make the multi-million-euro extraction costs seem a fair price to pay for avoiding a nuclear accident.

Unfortunately, even if the danger of the K-27 is defused, others still lurk at the bottom of the sea.

The Russian government has recently released archives showing that there are 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships contaminated ships, and 14 nuclear reactors in the Kara Sea – and most of these objects have been decaying there since the Soviet era

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Source –

This Is How Russia Disposes Of Its Dated Nuclear Submarines

This Is How Russia Disposes Of Its Dated Nuclear Submarines

The question of how to dispose of nuclear-powered  equipment and irradiated waste has been a nagging companion for the world’s advanced navies for  decades, and in the case of the former Soviet Union one of its  solutions was evidently to sink it into the Arctic  Ocean.
Information now provided to the Norwegian daily Aftenposten  by Russia’s authorities catalogue “enormous quantities” of  Soviet-era nuclear reactors and radioactive waste dumped into the Kara Sea  over the course of decades, far worse than previously known, and  which include the experimental K-27 submarine that was eventually  scuttled in 1981 once repairs to its liquid metal nuclear power plant were deemed  impossible to complete.
That scuttling operation was allegedly  performed at a far shallower depth than the International Atomic Energy  Authority’s guidelines of 3,000 meters, and although its two experimental  VT-1 reactors were sealed to avoid radioactive pollution there are now  questions as to the real danger of contamination. According to the Bellona  Foundation, a Norway-based environmental NGO with a long history of  involvement with the Soviet Union’s nuclear dumping grounds, information  that the K-27’s reactors could re-achieve critical status was released  during a seminar with Rosatom (Russia’s nuclear regulatory body) in February  of this year.
Norway’s Minister of the Environment, Bård Vegar  Solhjell, immediately played down any dangers revealed by the report,  though Bellona itself believes that the gradual publication of information  by Russia is intended as a quiet call for help in dealing with a  huge (and expensive) issue. In addition to the K-27  submarine, officials confirmed to Aftenposten the existence of some 17  thousand containers of radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors (five with  spent nuclear fuel) and 735  pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery.
An  editorial in Aftenposten mentions that as recently as 2006 Russia detected  no leaks emanating from the K-27 submarine, and the country has assembled a  commission to map the nuclear waste outlined in its report. Meanwhile, a  Norwegian-Russian effort is set to begin charting nuclear waste in the Kara  and Barents Sea, which was used as a radioactive dump by the Soviet Union  into the early 1990s in violation of the London  Convention of 1972.
Exxon  Mobile and Rosneft  signed a deal in April of 2012 to jointly develop oil reserves in the Kara  Sea, a prospect which may hold more than 37 billion barrels. According  to Bellona’s  Igor Kurdrik, Russia therefore has a vested interest in charting and  cleaning up the area’s radioactive waste before oil extraction  begins.
Throughout its history with nuclear propelled submarines the  Soviet Union’s Northern Fleet lost a total of four of its vessels,  though with the exception of the K-27 all others were lost in  maritime accidents.

Source –

Royal Navy decommissions Trafalgar submarine HMS Turbulent

HMS TurbulentHMS Turbulent was commissioned in 1984 and has had a total of 13 commanding officers

A decommissioning ceremony has been held for a Plymouth-based submarine.

The service marked the end of the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar Class submarine HMS Turbulent’s service after nearly 30 years.

The Tomahawk-equipped submarine returned to its Devonport base in December after a 284-day deployment – 190 of which were spent submerged.

During the deployment HMS Turbulent fired its missiles to provide cover during Nato operations in Libya.

The Royal Navy said the submarine – the second oldest of its class – had had a distinguished service, but had come to the end of its natural operational life.

Titanic connection

Since being commissioned in 1984, HMS Turbulent has been deployed on patrols in the North Atlantic, the Far East and the Adriatic, where she saw service during the Balkans conflict.

Guest of honour at the decommissioning ceremony on Saturday was HMS Turbulent’s first commanding officer, Capt Tim Lightoller (retired) – whose grandfather Charles Lightoller was the most senior officer to survive the sinking of the Titantic after it hit an iceberg 100 years ago on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Charles Lightoller later joined the Royal Navy and was decorated for his service in World War I and was part of the armada of small boats that evacuated solders from Dunkirk during World War II.

Other guests at the decommissioning ceremony included a total of 12 previous commanding officers, sponsor Lady Cassidi and family and friends of the submarine and crew over the years.

Capt Lightoller said it had been a day of “mixed emotions” for him.

Soviet monitoring

“I must admit to being emotional at seeing the end of HMS Turbulent’s service today,” he said.

“I was in charge of the boat for its first three years’ of life and was at the launch with Lady Cassidi and got it through trials and testing and into operational service.

“It was then the Cold War and our prime role was monitoring Soviet submarine operations and working under the ice in the north Atlantic.”

HMS Turbulent’s current commanding officer, Cdr Nicholas Wheeler, said the service had been an opportunity to offer his and the Royal Navy’s gratitude for the hard work the submarine’s crews had provided over its service.