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Damaged fuel rods soon to be extracted from Lepse nuclear service vessel via Bellona

Officials in Northwest Russia have said they will soon begin removing hundreds of nuclear fuel assemblies, some of them damaged, from what was the country’s most radioactive nuclear fuel storage ship, the Lepse.

Officials in Northwest Russia have said they will soon begin removing hundreds of nuclear fuel assemblies, some of them damaged, from what was the country’s most radioactive nuclear fuel storage ship, the Lepse.

The fuel removal process is one of the most technically demanding nuclear legacy cleanup operations, and when it’s complete in 2020, it will represent decades of technical preparation and coordination of international funding in often trying political circumstances.

[…]

The Lepse, which was used to unload spent nuclear fuel from Soviet nuclear icebreakers, spent more than two decades languishing at the Atomflot icebreaker port in Murmansk, just four kilometers from the city’s population of 300,000.

Its irradiated holds contain 639 spent nuclear fuel assemblies, many of which were damaged when the vessel refueled the Lenin Icebreaker in 1965 and 1967, and defy removal by conventional means.

[…]

Once the Lepse was in dry-dock at Nerpa, it was cut into five sections, or “storage packages”: the stern section, which is said to be relatively uncontaminated; the section with liquid radioactive waste tanks; the engine and boiler room, and two packaged bow sections, one of which contains the notorious 639 spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

When it was hauled out of the water onto a special slipway, the bow storage package, along with the side sections, was completely enclosed, heating equipment was installed to ensure climate controls for the spent nuclear fuel assemblies inside.

The vessel was also fitted with a communications system, a ventilation system and trace gas detection equipment to ensure safety for the 5000 technicians working on its dismantlement.

Radiation safety shields have also been put up around the vessel, and additional protections were added around the bow to block some 4600 microsieverts of radiation.

After the vessel was pulled out of the water onto a slipway, decommissioning engineers began forming the storage packages – essentially big blocks holing the remainders of the vessel, which will be shipped to long-term storage in Sayda Bay, a refurbished storage site on the coast of Kola Bay where dozens of reactor compartments from other nuclear vessels are kept.

Read more at Damaged fuel rods soon to be extracted from Lepse nuclear service vessel 

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