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Monday, August 12, 2013

Russian Nuclear Sub Decommissioning: Sayda Bay

Removal of submarine reactor compartment in drydock.  From "Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Disposal of Decommissioned, Defueled Naval Submarine Reactor Plants," United States Department of the Navy, May 1984

I never thought this would happen, but believe it or not, the Bellona Foundation has actually published something that could be considered positive when it comes to nuclear energy.

On August 9, I published a piece about the USS Miami, and decided to include a large number of links that show and explain the process the US Navy / DOE uses to dispose of the nuclear subs and ships, and their reactor plants, at the end of the vessels' lives.  This morning, while looking for a little bit more information on the Miami, I happened to stumble over a link to a piece on the Bellona site which describes the Russian Navy Northern Fleet's parallel program.

Now, to be completely honest, Bellona has been wholly negative about the Northern Fleet's entire operation (not just submarine retirement) for many years, and a long time back began publishing a series of articles on the rather dire nature of the retired but still-not-scrapped, rusting nuclear powered submarines of that fleet. 

What we see now is a surprising turnaround from 1995 when Bellona published its original huge and now-deleted report on the Russian Northern Fleet.  Today, cleaned up, painted and sealed reactor compartments are being stored on land in a way that's a lot like what the US Navy / DOE is doing.

Click here to see the Bellona article "Cold War Nuclear Legacy Dismantlement in Sayda Bay:  Mission Possible."

Especially interesting are the large, high quality photos that are available on the page (click to enlarge,) and the photo of the Alfa class sub reactor compartment is particularly notable.

More views of the Sayda Bay facility and decommissioned submarine reactor compartments both floating and on land can be found at this Facebook page album.  Keep in mind that the objects in the water that look like submarines or parts thereof are actually decommissioned sub reactor compartments with one compartment retained fore and aft to act as floats.  Some appear to have been the original adjacent compartments as originally built, but at least one boat appears to have a bow and stern section (very tapered) welded on in front of and behind the reactor compartment instead.  I've seen at least one photo of a floating partial boat like this which had additional floatation added externally.

It is now fact that with the help and investment of Germany, the Russian Navy is really getting up to speed rapidly on this long-delayed program, which no doubt will ease the minds of many neighbors who have been given little but misinformation over the years.  My hat is off to Bellona for publishing this piece.  Well done; I like to see success stories.

12:00 Noon Eastern 8/12/2013

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