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Soviet-era nuclear service ship ready for defuelling

Staff Writer |
Overcoming the legacy of the operation of nuclear-powered ships in northern Russia is marking a major milestone today with the opening of a shelter for the defuelling of the former Soviet icebreaker service ship Lepse.

The vessel – built in 1934 and taken out of service in 1988 – holds 639 damaged and distorted spent nuclear fuel assemblies which cannot be removed from their current specialised storage facilities, representing a serious threat to the environment.

The new facility, located at the Nerpa shipyard near Murmansk in northern Russia, will create safe conditions to cut out the spent nuclear fuel from these tanks, transfer the nuclear material into new canisters and transport the canisters in casks to Mayak, a nuclear reprocessing plant in the Urals.

The shelter cost €23 million and was financed through the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund, an international fund with contributions from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom and managed by the EBRD.

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