Nuclear waste vessel without work

"Rossita" has mainly been at port at Atomflot since August 2011. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Italian financed vessel “Rossita” should assist Russia with transport of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel from run-down coastal storages. Two years after delivery, the vessel has still not transported anything. Now, she goes for repair.


With a price tag of €70 million, “Rossita” was built as part of Italy’s contribution to the G8 Global Partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction and associated materials. The vessel was launched in December 2010 and transferred to Rosatomflot in Murmansk in August 2011 with the aim to transport spent nuclear fuel from retired submarines and coastal storage sites like Andreeva Bay and Severodvinsk.

Last week, the top modern nuclear waste transport vessel was taken into dry-dock at the Nerpa shipyard northwest of Murmansk. Until February 25, the vessel’s blades, shaft line and crane will be repaired in order to improve the performance in the Arctic, reports Nord-News.

When “Rossita” arrived at Atomflot in August 2011, General Director of Rosatomflot Vyacheslav Ruksha told reporters that the new vessel would start to remove spent nuclear fuel in the first quarter 2012, then wrote. Today, a year later, not a single transport has been carried out.

Andrey Zolotkov with Bellona Murmansk has in-depth knowledge about the nuclear waste situation on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. He regrets the slow-motion progress after “Rossita” was delivered from Italy.

“It’s a pity that preparation works for transportation of spent nuclear feul and radioactive waste from Andreeva Bay took longer time, than construction itself of “Rossita”. “Rossita” was constructed for these purposes. Now the ship is just awaiting for the cargo to transport,” says Andrey Zolotkov to BarentsObserver.

Rosatomflot is Russia’s state own company operating the fleet of nuclear powered ice-breakers and the technical base Atomflot in Murmansk. Atomflot is used for re-loading of spent nuclear fuel from Russia’s retired nuclear powered submarines. Such spent nuclear fuel is transported to Atomflot by vessels and there reloaded to either railway wagons or the intermediate storage facility financed by the United Kingdom. From Atomflot, the spent nuclear fuel is transported by rail to Russia’s reprocessing plant Mayak in the South-Urals.

Instead of using “Rossita”, Atomflot has continued to use the ageing “Imandra” service vessel, especially en route to Murmansk from Nerpa and Gremikha.

Today, all spent nuclear fuel is removed from Gremikha, while there are still some 21,000 spent nuclear fuel elements in the run-down storage tanks in Andreeva bay, some 60 kilometers from Russia’s Arctic border to Norway on the coast of the Barents Sea.