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Irregularities corrected, nuclear cooperation continues

County Governor of Finnmark, Gunnar Kjønnøy, leads several of Norway's bilateral nuclear safety projects with Russia.

County Governor of Finnmark, Gunnar Kjønnøy, rejects all claims of confusion in Russian financial statements. A new audit examination of Norway’s spending on replacement of nuclear lighthouses beat off earlier questions raised by Russian Accounts Chambers.

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It was in October last year, BarentsObserver reported about the review where Russian Accounts Chambers raised several questions on the accuracy of the accountings.

Norway, through the County Governor of Finnmark, has since 2005 spent NOK 32 million (€3,83 million) replacing radioactive strontium batteries with solar panels as energy sources to power lighthouses in remote locations along Russia’s Arctic coastline. Russian partner, and receiver of the Norwegian cash, has been the Governor in Murmansk.

The Russian Accounts Chambers review from last fall raised questions about irregularities of 86,7 million ruble (€2 million) claiming the control with the Norwegian grants suffered from poor bookkeeping.

Finnmark County Governor Gunnar Kjønnøy now says to BarentsObserver that a review of the project’s subcontractors made on request by the Murmansk based Audit service concludes that “No variance or derivations have been identified during the execution of this procedure.” 

The final report was sent to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs before Christmas. 

The audit report from the company Audit service in Murmansk further reads: “…the Final Report for March 2008 – December 2011 give a true and fair view on spending of funds allocated under the Contract…”

In their report to the Foreign Ministry, Finnmark County Administrations several waivers with the implementation of the project to replace the strontium-90 source thermo electrical generators powering the lighthouses.  

“Since August 2009, the project leaders on the Russian side has been changed six times. This has mainly been people with administrative backgrounds without sufficient knowledge about the project and little expertise in project work. This has caused delays in completing documents on the Russian side,” the report reads.

In a letter to Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun, Gunnar Kjønnøy writes: “The accounting and audit report that is now available, shows that there are no irregularities in payments concerning the 27 RTGs and its replacement. I am pleased to note that the errors are corrected, the budget is in order, the money is spent in accordance with the agreement and the projects completed as planned.”

The cross-border nuclear safety cooperation between the two governors continues this year. One of the projects in pipe is providing Norwegian funding for seamarks along the shipping lane from the Russian navy’s spent nuclear fuel waste-dump in Andreeva bay, along the coast of the Kola Peninsula to Atomflot harbor in Murmansk.