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15 Soviet N-reactors dumped at sea

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(March 6, 1992) Greenpeace reports that 12 submarine nuclear reactors and three icebreaker reactors were dumped by the former USSR in the Kara Sea, off the coast of Novaya Zemlaya.

(368.3612) WISE Amsterdam - Their information comes from sources inside the CIS, researched by Alexander Yemelanenkov, Russian chairperson of the anti-testing association "Towards Novaya Zemlya" and Andrei Zolotkov, a nuclear engineer aboard the "Imandra", a nuclear refuelling ship for icebreakers in Murmansk. Although groups such as Greenpeace, the CIS-based For a Nuclear Free North, and the Norwegian foundation Bellona have previously documented Soviet dumping of nuclear waste in this area, this is the first public disclosure that submarines and their nuclear reactors were also dumped there. (See WISE News Communique 364.3578)


Novaya Zemlya, an island archipelago in the Arctic Circle used by the former USSR as a nuclear test site, is proving to be one the largest nuclear dumping grounds under the old regime. And this is not likely to change under the new one. According to Igor Kudrik of For a Nuclear Free North, Novaya Zemlya is one of two sites being considered for the construction of an underground nuclear waste repository for wastes generated by the military, the Murmansk Shipping Company and nuclear power stations on the Kola Peninsula. The other site being considered is on the Kola Peninsula. One preliminary investigation claims the Novaya Zemlya site is the better choice for an underground repository because its "eternally-frozen rocks" make migration of water "impossible". However, there is still disagreement on the geological structure of both sites and a detailed investigation is needed. Meanwhile, above ground repositories are also being considered for both sites. For more information on plans for regional nuclear repositories in the north, contact: Igor Kudrik, For a Nuclear North, Maklakova 9-21, 183073 Murmansk, CIS.

One whole submarine, the K-27 (powered by a liquid-metal cooled reactor), was dumped in the Stepovov Gulf after an accident in May 1968. Its two fuelled nuclear reactors were dumped in the same location off the southern island in 1982. Eight reactors, three of which still contain their nuclear fuel, were dumped along with sections of four accident-damaged nuclear submarines in waters just south of the K-27. The submarine sections - from the K-11, K-3 Leninski Komosomel, the K-19 Hiroshima and one unknown - were reportedly dumped during the years 1964-65. Five more reactors, including the three damaged reactors from the icebreaker "Lenin" litter the seabed. Over 17,000 containers of liquid and solid radioactive waste were also dumped: the location of some 10,000 of these containers has now been made public.

Greenpeace is working towards a worldwide ban on nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships and submarines. For a list of submarine, reactor and waste dump sites, write to the address below.

Source: Greenpeace (GreenNet, gn.nuclear, gn topic 83, 28 Feb. 1992).

Contact: John Sorange or Jacquelyn Walsh, Greenpeace Communications Ltd, 5 Baker's Row, London, EC1R 3DB, UK; tel: 44 71 833 0600; fax: 44 71 837 6606; telex: 8953660 GPCOMMS G.