Sinkhole explosive methane officially life threatening, residents not told
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The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.
EDIS Number: UEV-20120926-36689-RUS
Event type: Non-categorized event
Date/Time: Wednesday, 26 September, 2012 at 05:57 (05:57 AM) UTC
Last update: ---
Cause of event:
Damage level: Unknown
Country: Russia [Europe]
County / State: Novaya Zemlya archipelago
Area: K-27 Russian nuclear submarine wreck, Kara Sea
Source: RSOE EDIS
A group of 16 Russian and Norwegian researchers who sailed to take measurements surrounding a Russian nuclear submarine that was scuttled for nuclear waste off the coast of the former Soviet nuclear test archipelago Novaya Zemlya in the Kara Sea have found no radioactive leaks, Norwegian radiation authorities said today. Per Strand, a director at the Norwegian Radiation Protection agency told Bellona, however, that the primary purpose of the expedition, which returned today, was to inspect the possibility of an uncontrolled chain reaction aboard the K-27 Russian nuclear submarine, which was sunk in 50 meters of water in Novaya Zemlya's Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea as nuclear waste in 1981. "The Russian side indicated there might be a hypothetical possibility that spent nuclear fuel in the reactor in extreme situations could cause an uncontrolled chain reaction, which can lead to heat and radioactivity releases," Strand said in a telephone interview from Kirkeness. The K-27, was dumped by the Soviet Navy in 1981, with spent nuclear fuel packed in its reactors, after a 1968 reactor leak aboard the killed nine sailors.
The navy tried to repair it before deciding to seal the nuclear units and sinking the sub. The researchers also examined some 2000 containers of various kinds of radioactive waste that were dumped in Stepovogo Bay, but found no increase in radiation since the site was last inspected in 1994. Authorities in Russia and their counterparts in Norway, which lies about 965 kilometers to the west of the sunken sub, need to make a decision about a safe disposal of the K-27, which was the top priority of the expedition, Strand said. Strand said that the joint research team aboard the Ivan Petrov research vessel took sediment, plant and sea life samples. They also used a mini submarine to take photos of the K-27's condition. Though emphasizing that all data collected is preliminary, Strand said it would "contribute to making decisions about whether the submarine needs to be lifted out of the water" for safer storage. "For now, the first priority will be the development of environmental impact studies based on the information we have collected to judge the feasibility of lifting the submarine," he said. Norway's number one focus for the moment, said Strand, will be developing an effective system of countermeasures should a chain reaction occur aboard the K-27.
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