Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media.
Bellona had received in 2011 a draft of a similar report prepared for Russia’s Gossoviet, the State Council, for presentation at a meeting presided over by then-president Dmitry Medvedev on Russian environmental security.
The Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom confirmed the figures in February of this year during a seminar it jointly held with Bellona in Moscow.
Bellona is alarmed by the extent of the dumped Soviet waste, which is far greater than was previously known – not only to Bellona, but also to the Russian authorities themselves.
The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.
“Bellona has worked with this issue since 1992 when we first revealed the dangerous nuclear waste laying at the bottom of the Kara Sea,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge.
He acknowledged, however, that a precise accounting from the Russian side could hardly be expected given Russia’s own ignorance of the extent of the dumped radioactive waste.