Radiation researchers denied access to naval waters

Salve Dahle
Salve Dahle is Director of Akvaplan-niva.

A study aimed to determine possible leakages of radioactivity from Russia’s nuclear waste dump in Andreeva Bay is stopped by the navy. “The missing samples make it impossible to conclude,” says Salve Dahle with Akvaplan-niva.


Andreeva Bay is the largest nuclear waste storage on the Kola Peninsula, holding more than 21,000 spent uranium fuel assemblies. The storage tanks, located a few hundred meters from the shoreline, are all three in a serious worn-down state. Radioactive contamination is discovered in the soil several places within the nuclear storage complex, as previously reported by BarentsObserver.

The question now is; are there any leakages to the sea?

NRK reports that Russia’s Northern Fleet denied the civilian researchers access to the waters. The storage is located close to the Litsa fjord, which is connected to the Barents Sea, famous for its huge stocks of cod important for both Russian and Norwegian fisheries. The distance from Andreeva bay to Norway is less than 60 kilometers.  

Russian experts from Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, Russian Academy of Science, in cooperation with Norwegian research and consultancy company Akvaplan-niva were supposed to do the radiation mapping on behalf of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities. 

“The goal of the project is to study if radioactive contamination has leaked from the waste storage on land in the Andreeva Bay and into the bay itself,” says Salve Dahle to BarentsObserver. He is Director of Akvaplan-niva and has cooperated with marine researchers in the Russian Arctic for more than two decades. 

He says an extensive program was planned for sampling aimed at discovering leakages. 

“For this reason an extensive program was planned for sampling along a gradient from the waste storage site, the Andreeva Bay and to the Barents Sea,” says Salve Dahle. He emphasize the missing samples from the Andreeva Bay make it impossible to conclude on the status of radioactive contamination in the Bay. 

Norwegian authorities has since the mid-90ties cooperated with Russia on a large nuclear safety program aimed at reducing the risks of radioactive contamination from old Cold War naval sites on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Some €200 million are so far paid by Norway to nuclear safety projects in the region. On May 16th, another multi-million contract is to be signed.

Nuclear Physicist Nils Bøhmer with the Bellona Foundation.

Also Nils Bøhmer with the Bellona Foundation emphasizes the importance of opening the waters for independent experts.

“It is important that independent experts get access to these areas to do their own measurements so that with one with best possible certainty can determine if there are leakages from the storages in the Andreeva Bay,” says Nils Bøhmer to BarentsObserver. 

“It is unfortunately so that one cannot always trust the information coming from Russian authorities,” he argues.