The Russian research vessel “Ivan Petrov” left Arkhangelsk on August 22 with 15 scientists onboard. Their mission is to determine the radiological threat posted to the environment by the sunken K-159 submarine, which went down in the Barents Sea in 2003 while being towed for scrapping in Murmansk.
The submarine contains about 800 kilos of spent nuclear fuel and lies on 246 meters less than 130 kilometers from the border to Norway.
There have been unconfirmed rumors about radioactive leaks from the submarine, which lies right next to some of the world’s most important fishing resources. There is considerable international interest for updated measurements from the expedition.
“The submarine lies very close to Norway and is a potential source of pollution. This expedition aims at getting updated information on the environmental situation in the area. In this way we can avoid speculations about radioactive contamination of the fishery resources in the Barents Sea”, Per Strand, Director of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority says to the Institute of Marine Research’s web site.
The expedition was planned to leave Arkhangelsk on “Ivan Petrov” already in the end of June, but technical problems with the vessel led to a two months delay. “There were problems with the propeller, amongst other things, but everything was fixed during the summer and everything is OK now. We left Arkhangelsk on Friday 22 and are now conducting surveys by K-159”, Head of the expedition Hilde Elise Heldal says to BarentsObserver.
Norway takes part in the expedition with scientists from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), Institute of Marine Research and the Centre for Environmental Radioactivity at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
The Russian scientists come from the Research and Production Association Typhoon, the National Research Centre Kurchatov Institute and the State Scientific Centre Yuzhmorgeologiya.
Also observers from Russia’s Ministry of Defense and the International Atomic Energy Agency are aboard the vessel, Roshydromet writes.