One of the two reactors powering “Pyotr Veliky” was shut down following a leakage in the first cooling circuit while the warship was on voyage in the Barents Sea last week. As a result, radioactive vapor was released from one of the steam generators.
This is the short version of the content in many social media messages now circulating in Murmansk and Severomorsk. Also Blogger 51, a well-known blog site covering the Kola Peninsula, is referring to the incident.
“Pyotr Veliky” returned to her home base Severomorsk on Friday, reports Zvezda, a nationwide TV network run by the Ministry of Defense. So far, no official information is provided about any problems with one of the reactors onboard.
One social media comment reads: “We should give this info to Norwegians. If they start making noise, “ours’ can also start itching.”
Another source writing on the social media site VKontakte says it was the left reactor that had the leakage and the battle cruiser had to return to base with half power. The same source says there was no external leakage of radioactivity.
The vessel is the only nuclear powered surface vessel in the Russian navy. This latest voyage started on September 12 as previously reported by BarentsObserver. “Pyotr Veliky” sailed in the Barents- and Kara Sea.
Back in 2004, then-Commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov was broadly quoted in Russian media with the statement about the technical conditions onboard “Pyotr Veliky”: “The vessel is in such condition that it could blow-up at any time. I mean including the content of the reactor.” Nezavisimaya Gazeta still has the statement online in its archive of news.
“Pyotr Veliky” - or “Peter the Great” in English, was commissioned in 1996 after ten years of construction.
Norway and Russia have an agreement on exchange of information in case of leakages of radioactivity to the environment that could have cross-border effects. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) was not informed about any incident when contacted by BarentsObserver on Monday.
“We were not familiar with this incident. We take for granted that we had been informed if the event had been of such a nature that information flows to neighboring countries was needed,” says NRPA Director Ole Harbitz to BarentsObserver.