Suppliers are being sought by Russia for equipment to handle and transport used nuclear submarine fuel currently stored at Andreeva Bay. Such fuel has been stored at the site for over 50 years.
Used fuel from nuclear submarines in Russia's Northern Fleet has been stored at a pool-type storage facility at the former Andreeva Bay base on the Kola Peninsula since the 1960s. The base was shut down in 1992. Following a leak from the pools some 30 years ago, the used fuel was transferred to three dry storage tanks at a new facility on the site. About 22,000 used fuel assemblies - equivalent to 100 reactor cores - remain there.
Russia's Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Federal Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety" (FCNRS) plans to remove the used fuel from Andreeva Bay. It will firstly be shipped to the Atomflot enterprise near Murmansk, about 80 kilometres to the east, before being transported by purpose-built rail cars to the Mayak reprocessing plant.
In late January, FCNRS issued a tender for equipment to transporter the casks into which the used fuel will be placed. These will weigh up to 40-tonnes each. The tender closes at the end of March 2014. The winning bidder will be expected to deliver the cask transporter within 14 months of being awarded the contract.
An earlier tender was issued last August for the design and manufacture of two rail-mounted trolleys - one for 20-tonne loads and the other for 40-tonne loads - for transporting the casks. That tender closes on 1 August 2014 and the contract is expected to run for 29 months.
The clean-up of the Andreeva Bay site is being financed through Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) grants. NDEP is an international framework that promotes cooperation between partner governments, the European Commission, donors and international financial institutions for what are deemed to be priority nuclear safety projects in northwest Russia. The NDEP funds are administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The UK is funding the design and construction of used nuclear fuel management facilities at Andreeva Bay, while NDEP will support transportation of the fuel. Norway is to contribute by upgrading infrastructure at the site, such as piers, roads and power supply, while Italy will provide radioactive waste management facilities and build a transport ship for removing used fuel from the site. Meanwhile, the European Union is developing special automated tools for removing the fuel from the storage tanks.
Russia itself is responsible for operating the site, overseeing safety and security, performing the actual fuel removal and transporting it to Mayak for reprocessing.