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Nuclear submarine fire in Russia Far East again raises questions surrounding safe dismantlement via Bellona

A decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine moored off a naval base on the Kamchatka peninsula caught fire on Friday, but there was no radioactive contamination because its nuclear fuel had already already been removed, Russian media reported.

A decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine moored off a naval base on the Kamchatka peninsula caught fire on Friday, but there was no radioactive contamination because its nuclear fuel had already already been removed, Russian media reported.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the blaze on April 29, saying that the Krasnoyarsk Project 949 submarine was being disassembled in Vilyuchinsk on Kamchatka when its rubber-coated outer hull caught fire.

The fire, concentrated in the bow section, burned for about three hours before it was extinguished by Russian Ministry for Emergency Services, the Interfax newswire reported. The agency reported the fire was stifled without having to submerge the submarine, as some earlier reports had indicated.

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“Such fires sometimes happen during dismantlement,” said Malovik. “This one occurred in the bow section in a hard to reach area, was extinguished, they poured water on it, all was localized and there’s no danger.”

He added that submarines contain numerous flammable components that assure the vessel’s stealth.

But such fires seem to happen with unusual frequency at shipyards owned by the Russia’s state owned United Shipbuilding Corporation, which is a co-owner of the Northeast Repair Center, according to its website.

“This emergency is another reminder that the process of dismantling decommissioned subs doesn’t always go smoothly,” said Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s executive director. “There must be an independent investigation of the fire in order to ensure more safety in future dismantlement operations.”

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