Clean-up of former Soviet naval base makes progress

Andreeva Bay is an abandoned Soviet naval base on the Kola peninsula in north-western Russia. It contains derelict and contaminated buildings, radioactive waste and 22,000 bundles of spent nuclear fuel rods – known as fuel assemblies – stemming from decommissioned nuclear submarines and icebreakers. All of these pose a serious threat to human health and the environment in the region.

Russian authorities and international donors have been working together since 2008 to make the site safe. A key task is the safe removal of the spent fuel to allow its shipment to more modern facilities in central Russia.

Work on this task is financed by the EBRD-managed Nuclear Window Support Fund of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP). In 2016, the installation at Andreeva Bay of all equipment for the safe handling, packaging, transportation and shipment of fuel was completed and this is now undergoing testing. Loading of the first spent fuel casks onto a special ship and their removal from the site were expected to take place in early 2017.

The Nuclear Window of the NDEP receives contributions from nine countries and the EU and finances vital projects removing spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste from unsafe facilities in north-western Russia.