Scuttled Russian Sub in the Kara Sea: "K-27 ... The only one built of this class. Laid down on June 15, 1958. Launched on April 1, 1962 and commissioned to the Northern Fleet on October 30, 1963. Based at Zapadnaya Litsa. There was a serious accident involving the reactor and 9 people died of radiation injuries. Attempts to repair the reactor were futile; hence the entire submarine was scuttled at a depth of 50 meters in Stepovogo Bay at Novaya Zemlya in 1981." Image Source: Bellona.
On 28 August 2012, the Norwegian environmental NGO, Bellona, reported that Russian officials have 'discovered' their country's enormous dumps of radioactive waste in the Arctic Sea. With Arctic ice melting, Russian authorities want to prospect for oil and gas deposits in the ocean, but they cannot do so unless the nuclear waste is removed. Given the context, it appears that the Russians are admitting their vast radioactive pollution of the Arctic seas now because the problem has gotten beyond them and they need help with a clean up. Presumably the clean up - if it is even possible - will clear the way for underwater oil drilling and yet more environmental abuse.
The waste includes 14 whole nuclear reactors (5 with fuel still in them), and an unmentioned scuttled nuclear submarine, which "could reachieve criticality and explode," according to an earlier report from a February 2012 Bellona-Rosatom seminar. Nor is this year's list of Arctic Sea radioactive dumping complete. From the report:
This story is not without its critics; a commenter on this piece wrote: "This is just pseudo-Environmentalist propaganda like the China Syndrome." However, another commenter remarks:Bellona is alarmed by the extent of the dumped Soviet waste, which is far greater than was previously known ... . 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 radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel. ...
Kudrik said that one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 kilometers of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in ... Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.
Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February.
“This danger had previously been unknown, and is very important information. When they search and map these reactors, they must be the first priority,” said Kudrik.
Researchers will now evaluate whether it is possible to raise the submarine, and attempt to determine if it is leaking radioactivity into the sea.
Yet another rumour from comments on the same piece: "I heard somewhere that the Mediterranean is a dumping ground too. Russian mafia bought up nuclear waste and put it on old ships and sunk them and got insurance. I cannot verify it but it is all so scary." More on that unsubstantiated rumour:"FYI: The United States also approves of radioactive waste dumping as long as it is sealed inside specially-constructed, steel containers and dumped in the ocean offshore. I have personally seen the containers used by N.C.-based waste disposal companies and while they look impressive and are painted a distinct yellow color I know that they are rated to last in salt water 100-200,000 years but the manufacturer told me he himself did not believe that to be true feeling they would leaking waste within 20 years. The company presently dumps off the N.C. coast line into a trench under federal contract."
"For years, there have been allegations that the ‘Ndrangheta syndicate of the Italian mafia has been using the seas as a convenient location in which to dump hazardous waste — including radioactive waste — charging for the service and pocketing the profits. An Italian NGO, Legambiente, suspects that about 40 ships loaded with toxic and radioactive waste have disappeared in Mediterranean waters since 1994."
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