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Action Plan for the Northern Dimension 2000-2003,
13 June 2000

Action Plan for the Northern Dimension 


57. Russia’s North West region is particularly endangered by the presence of huge amounts of
spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. In the seas and shores surrounding the Kola Peninsula
there are approximately 300 small nuclear reactors (for marine purposes) and thousands of
spent nuclear fuel elements.
58. There is inadequate planning and insufficient financing to deal with decommissioned submarine
nuclear reactors from Russia’s northern fleet. The lack of adequate reprocessing facilities or safe
storage capacity for spent fuel and radioactive waste from the reactors of nuclear powered
vessels is of concern.
59. Concern also relates to the operation of the Kola and Leningrad nuclear power plants in the
Russian Federation and Ignalina Power Plant in Lithuania, all with their Soviet-type reactors.
Concerns include technical safety aspects as well as those of infrastructure, legal and regulatory
matters and of safety culture.
60. In the spheres of nuclear and radiation safety there is already extensive technical cooperation
between western countries and organisations and those of the former Soviet Union. This
involves both bilateral and multinational programmes and projects. However, financing is split
between a large number of sources, mainly the EU (PHARE and TACIS, bilateral from Finland,
France, Germany, Sweden , the UK) the Nuclear Safety Account administered by the EBRD
and other bilateral funds from mainly the US, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and Japan .
61. Given the overall size of the problem, internationally concerted bilateral and multilateral actions
are necessary and should concentrate on the most serious nuclear safety problems, notably in
the areas of treatment and storage of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel and on the safety
of nuclear installations.
62. EU policy aims at the earliest practicable closure of all nuclear reactors at the nuclear power
plants in the region, namely Ignalina, Leningrad and Kola (1-2) that cannot be upgraded to
internationally accepted levels of safety at a reasonable cost. As regards the Ignalina reactors in
Lithuania, the Lithuanian government, in accordance with the principles laid down in the
Accession Partnerships, has decided to close down Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. On 2 May
2000, the Lithuanian Parliament adopted a decommissioning law whereby the work prior to
decommissioning Ignalina’s first reactor must be finalised by January 1, 2005. As far as
effective closure dates are concerned, the EU stresses that Unit 1 should be closed down before
the year 2005. With regard to Unit 2, in particular considering the Lithuanian authorities'
intention to determine its closure date by the 2004 National Energy Strategy and based on the
age difference of both units and other technical data, closure should occur by 2009 at the latest.
Moreover, the safe management and ultimate safe disposal of nuclear waste should be ensured.
63. In order to safeguard an early closure of the Ignalina units, the electricity network in the region
could be developed in line with the Baltic Ring approach.
64. The implementation of projects in north-west Russia would be facilitated by the conclusion of
the “Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation” (MNEPR).
Western donors and Russia are currently negotiating this international agreement, which will
serve as an “umbrella” for all projects on nuclear waste and spent fuel in Russia. The agreement
will contain a set of obligations for Russia and will establish a mechanism for better co-ordination.
The MNEPR agreement should be concluded as soon as possible to create a sound
and stable basis for future assistance.
65. The main financial EC instrument to assist candidate countries in nuclear decommissioning is
the PHARE programme. The Commission is setting up a special international Fund at the
EBRD to support a coordinated strategy for the funding of decommissioning activities at the
Ignalina NPP and subsequent measures in the Lithuanian energy production sector.
66. Potential short- and medium-term actions related to nuclear safety under the PHARE
programme are
· Support for the installation of a second shutdown system for Ignalina 2; 19 million ¼
have been earmarked in the PHARE programme for this activity.
· Support to the pre-decommissioning programme for Ignalina-1 under the responsibility
of the Plant Operator and the supervision and licensing process established by the
Lithuanian nuclear safety authority VATESI.
67. The participation of the candidate countries and of Russia in the EURATOM RTD programme
could be envisaged within the existing rules and procedures.
68. In the new TACIS Regulation for the period 2000-2006, the first of the three identified
priorities with regard to nuclear safety relates to the promotion of an affective nuclear safety
culture in line with the principles of the Convention on nuclear safety. For the concerned NPPs
in the region, this activity will be consistent with the EU policy on the early closure of certain
reactors, as indicated above. An important part is the support of the supervision and assessment
capacity of safety authorities and the adoption of standard regulatory and licensing procedures.
As for "spent fuel and nuclear waste management" a specific reference is made explicitly
to "North-West Russia". The successful implementation of this provision is closely linked
to two basic conditions: The existence of a Russian strategy for radioactive waste and spent
fuel management, and the conclusion of the MNEPR framework agreement. Therefore,
· the European Commission will continue to take an active part in the work of the Contact
Expert Group (CEG) for an Overall Strategy for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel
Management, and
· it will support a rapid conclusion of the MNEPR framework agreement under conditions
acceptable for all sides.
Thereafter, the European Community will be in the position to increase its co-operation
and to support larger scale projects in the region in the medium term.
69. Possible short term actions for North-West Russia under TACIS are:
Several decommissioned nuclear submarines, from which no
nuclear fuel has yet been removed, are in storage at the Iokanga naval base (Gremikha).
The main aim of the project is to assess the existing fuel unloading equipment and to propose and cost actions necessary to refurbish the equipment and facilities that could
later be proposed for financing by the international Community. Another
complementary project (feasibility study) would analyse the level of environmental
contamination and will explore radioactive waste management alternatives.
 The technical base in Andreev Bay (Murmansk region) was built for storage of spent fuel and
radioactive waste from nuclear submarines of the Russian Northern Fleet. Over 20 000
spent fuel elements are reported to be on site; facilities do not meet current international
safety standards. The base has now been transferred to MINATOM for rehabilitation.
Such rehabilitation would be lengthy, complicated and expensive, requiring economic
and technical studies. Access and a preliminary technical feasibility study is needed
before any longer term projects at the site can be planned.