Friday, March 7

Norway and UK Pay Nuke Money as Russia Threatens West

This is amusing on all sorts of levels.

Not only did the UK have to pay to clean up nuclear material spread all over London by a Kremlin assassin, they also have to pay to clean up Russian nuclear mess back home, at the same time that Russia is threatening the West with a new cold war:

Norway and the United Kingdom will again combine funding and expertise to dismantle an aging Russian nuclear submarine under the aegis of the Global Threat Reduction Plan, Britain’s Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks announced in a statement Wednesday. Charles Digges, 26/02-2008 The cooperation represents the first time the two countries teamed on a nuclear dismantlement project in Russia since the somewhat acrimonious dissolution of Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation (AMEC) of which the UK, Norway, the United States and Russia. - Bellona

For starters, there is no reason why Russia can't pay to do this themselves. They either don't feel like it, or won't because they know that the 'West' will take care of it for them. Considering the large number of inadequately funded nuclear waste sites in Russia, not to mention the large number of derelict submarines awaiting a similar fate.

Now the event above can be looked at as two activities. First is the removal of the nuclear fuel and then dismantling of the ship and securing of the radioactive metal scrap. Looking at all the radioactive sites in Russia, they might as well just beach these suckers someplace like a bunch of empty beer cans. I was going to say that the money could be better used to clean up worse radioactive sites in Russia, like Andreyeva Bay. However, it seems that Russia have been 'gifted' even more millions for dealing with that mess.

Norway is to provide $2.4 million (58 million roubles) for the overhaul of the notorious Andreyeva Bay nuclear waste storage facility in northern Russia, a spokesman for the Murmansk Region governor said on Thursday, RIA Novosti reported. - Bellona

But it seems like the Germans put in some real cash for this deal:

Germany has signed a €300m deal to help Russia safely store floating submarine reactor compartments located in the Kola Peninsula's Sayda Bay, where approximately 50 irradiated hulls—some still loaded with their spent nuclear fuel—bob, rust and sometimes sink at dockside while the navy awaits a safer storage solution.

The German-Russian deal, equal to $354m, is aimed at cleaning up the ever more crowded and contaminated Sayda Bay and providing, over the course of the next six years, an temporary onshore reactor compartment storage facility that will safely hold its current 50 radioactive reactor compartments—plus approximately 30 more compartments that the German and Russian governments expect will be shipped to Sayda within the next ten years as the Northern Fleet retires more submarines. - Bellona, 10/14/2003

The first four reactor compartments in storage at the storage facility - 2006

Transport of the dismantled reactor compartment on the floating dock - 2006

At least, it appears that much good work is being done. My problem is who is paying for it. Because it seems that Russia is getting a free pass for creating this mess, and by not forcing them to clean it up it produces no disincentive for them to do it again. So while Russia is going back to its old habits of being an international nuisance and having fun, we are the ones paying to clean up their old radioactive messes. How convenient is that! After all, it is hard to build up national pride by doing things like environmental cleanup. That would require telling the population what a disaster your country is. Instead, let the Europeans, Japanese and Americans take care of the messy work.

For example, remember the sinking of the submarine KURSK? Despite it being such a tragedy in Russia and President Putin claiming that all would be done, guess who paid to raise and then dismantle the submarine? You did.

Of course, one could say that Russia is incapable of building such a modern facility as pictured above and they need the West to clean up their own backyard because they are incompetent in this field just as they have no competence in the safe handling of nuclear materials. (Which is how we got here in the first place.) This is probably true to some degree, since social issues never seemed to have been a priority of the Soviet Union and they just never built up the technical competence to do these things. Too bad you can't clean up nuclear waste with propaganda.

Keep in mind that the money mentioned above is in addition to the $10 Billion that was already pledged for cleaning up Russia's nuclear mess.

Here is a parting thought:

It is estimated that approximately 20% of the world's nuclear reactors are located in the Murmansk region. - BMWi

Fishing in contaminated waters - Russians Just don't get it...

* * *

Norway and UK to share £3.9 million burden of dismantling Russian November class sub - Bellona
Germany signs off on 300m Euros to clean up Sayda Bay (Saida Bay) - Bellona

Russia's Seriously Disturbing Ticking Nuclear Time Bomb - 10 June 07
US Assistance to Russia (2006) $949.3 Million - 15 Aug 07
US Assistance to Russia Funding Iranian Nukes - 21 Feb 07

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