Northwest Russia contains large quantities of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) that potentially threaten the environmental security of the surrounding Arctic Region. The majority of the SNF from Russian decommissioned nuclear submarines is currently stored either onboard submarines or in floating storage vesssels in Northwest Russia. Some of the SNF is damaged, stored in an unstable condition, or of a type that cannot currently be reprocessed. Most of the existing storage facilities being used in Northwest Russia do not meet health and safety and physical security requirements. Existing Russian transport infrastructure and reprocessing facilities cannot meet the requirements for moving and reprocessing this fuel. Therefore, additional interim storage capacity is required. The removal, handling, interim storage, and shipment of the fuel pose technical, ecological, and security challenges. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, along with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, is working closely with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (RF) to develop an improved and integrated management system for interim storage of military SNF in NW Russia. The cooperative effort consists of three subprojects involving the development of: (1) a prototype dual-purpose, metal-concrete container for both transport and long-term storage of RF military SNF, (2) the first transshipment/interim storage facility for these containers, and (3) improved fuel preparation and cask loading procedures and systems to control the moisture levels within the containers. The first subproject, development of a prototype dual-purpose container, was completed in December 2000. This was the first metal-concrete container developed, licensed, and produced in Russia for both the transportation and storage of military SNF. These containers are now in serial production. Russia plans to use these containers for the transport and interim storage of military SNF from decommissioned nuclear submarines at naval installations in the Arctic and Far East. The second subproject, the design, construction, and licensing of the first transshipment/interim storage facility in Russia, was completed in September 2003. This facility can provide interim storage for up to nineteen 40-tonne SNF containers filled with SNF for a period not to exceed two years. The primary objective of building this transshipment/interim storage facility in Murmansk, Russia was to remove a bottleneck in the RF transportation infrastructure for moving containers, loaded with SNF, from the arctic region to PO “Mayak” for reprocessing or longer-term storage. The third subproject addresses the need to improve fuel conditioning and cask operating procedures to ensure safe storage of SNF for at least 50 years. This will involve the review and improvement of existing RF procedures and systems for preparing and loading the fuel in the specially designed casks for transport and long-term storage. This subproject is scheduled for completion in December 2003. Upon completion, these subprojects are designed to provide a physically secure, accountable, and environmentally sound integrated solution that will increase the capacity for removal and transfer of SNF from decommissioned RF submarines in the Russian Federation to PO “Mayak” in central Russia.

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