Dangerous radioactive waste finally under roof

The two new buildings cover the solid radioactive waste and contaminated soil in the Andreeva bay. Photo from the newsletter of IAEA's Contact Expert Group.

Heavily contaminated radioactive waste and soil that have been exposed to harsh Arctic climate for decades are finally under roof in Andreeva bay on the Kola Peninsula


Thousands of cubic meters of radioactive equipment, concrete blocks, metal and waste that were dumped into a partly underground trench and partly stored in rusty containers in open air are no longer exposed to rain and snow. Two large buildings are constructed over the sites, protecting the contaminated area for the years to come until the waste can be safely treated and transported away.

The inauguration ceremony of the two constructions, named building 201 and 202 took place last week. With a price tag of €5,2 million, the buildings are raised as a part of the implementation of the Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, initiated by the G8 countries in 2002. This particular bill is paid by Italy.   

The Andreeva bay has since the 70ties been the dump site for radioactive waste accumulated from the operation of the Northern fleet’s submarines in the Russian Arctic. The site is located on the west side of the Litsa fjord, some 50 kilometers from the border to Norway. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous nuclear sites in the Russian north.

There are currently some 12,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste and 3,000 cubic meters of liquid waste at the site. The most heavily radioactive waste comes from the old storage pool for spent nuclear uranium fuel, a pool that had an accidental leakage in the early 80ties. Part of the waste are contaminated with long-lived isotopes.

The waste and contaminated soil under the roofs needed to be protected in order to avoid further leakages of radioactivity to the groundwater. The site is located just 200 meters from the sea. The Litsa fjord is on the coast to the Barents Sea, one of the best oceans in the world for fisheries.  

There are still some uncertainties about what is actually in the ground. With the new protective buildings, the highly needed cleanup can take place in safer conditions. 

Next step in the long-term cleanup work in the Andreeva bay is construction of a waste treatment and conditioning facility in the vicinity of the two newly commissioned waste buildings. The foundation works for the treatment facilities for solid and liquid radioactive waste starts this summer and is supposed to be commissioned in 2015, reports the Newsletter of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Contact Expert Group.

You can see a video report from Andreeva bay at the regional TV21 portal in Murmansk.