Multi-million radioactive waste complex on Kola

Reactor compartments from scrapped submarines are stored onshore in the Saida bay.

Germany grants €174 million to the construction of a new processing and storage complex in the Saida Bay on Russia’s coast to the Barents Sea.


Construction work at the storage for ractor compartments in Saida bay.
Construction work at the storage for reactor compartments and radioactive waste in the Saida bay on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

The processing plant will receive radioactive waste from the many submarine bases and naval yards along the coast of the Kola Peninsula. Thousands of cubic meters of solid radioactive waste are today stored at outworn coastal sites. The amounts of radioactive waste have increased in correlation with the decommissioning of some 120 cold war nuclear powered submarines over the last 20 years.

In Saida bay, there is already a large storage pad for the reactor compartments from the decommissioned submarines. Although most of the spent nuclear uranium fuel is taken out of the reactors, the inside of the compartments are still radioactive contaminated and need to be stored for tens of years before the metal can be cut up and  eventually ready for a final repository.

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The new processing complex will be built in conjunction with the existing storage pad for submarine reactors. The complex will consist of a module area for receiving waste where the different types of low-, medium- and transuranium waste will be sorted. Then there will be a module for processing the waste in order to reduce the volume before it enters the module for packing in new containers for longer term storage.

Russia has not yet taken any decisions on where to construct a final repository for solid radioactive waste so the new facilities in Saida bay will be for an indefinable period into the future.

Reactor compartments from scrapped submarines are stored onshore in the Saida bay.
Here are all the radioactive reactor compartments from Russia’s Cold War submarines stored safely onshore. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Saida bay is west of Murmansk in the direction of the Norwegian border.

The €174 million German grant is a part of the G8’s Global initiative to secure radioactive material.

The first portion of the funding will be given in 2012 and continue till 2014, reports RIA Novosti.