Russia Destroys Floating Chernobyl

Russia is finally going to demolish its “floating Chernobyl”, a ship full of highly radioactive waste from the Soviet Arctic fleet. Even if it is dismantled safely, more dangerous radioactive junk lurks in the Kara Sea off north-west Russia, much of it unmapped and in the path of oil and gas exploration.

The ex-Soviet ship Lepse contains 2.7 × 1016 becquerels of radioactivity  (that’s a helluva lot, btw!)  about the same amount of cesium released during the Chernobyl accident.  It’s contained in 638 fuel assemblies, plus submarine reactor parts containing spent fuel rods. Fully half are from the submarine Lenin, which lost reactor coolant in a 1966 accident, overheating and deforming the fuel so it could not be removed.

This is a nasty bit of floating death.  Thank God it’s in the Russian Arctic – hope it stays there.


For more information read the interesting article in New Scientist online:

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