The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Barents Sea a radiological danger, with its dead nuclear submarines

Kara-barents_seaRussia, Norway urge raising of dumped Soviet-era nuclear subs by Alexey Pavlov and Charles Digges (charles@bellona.noMURMANSK – Two derelict Soviet-era nuclear submarines lying at the bottom of the Barents Sea present a real radiological risk to surrounding waters and could have a negative impact on the delicate ecosystems of Arctic Seas, leading Russian scientists and Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Services have said. April 3, 2014 by 

MURMANSK – Two derelict Soviet-era nuclear submarines lying at the bottom of the Barents Sea present a real radiological risk to surrounding waters and could have a negative impact on the delicate ecosystems of Arctic Seas, leading Russian scientists and Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Services have said………

The long dormant conversation about raising the subs has been reanimatedbecause of the recent joint workshop held by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Bellona last month in Murmansk, where the Russian side expressed its wish to see the vessels retrieved.

Yet, the subs are hardly all of the radioactive hazards languishing at the bottom of the Kara Sea.

According to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA), other submerged radiation hazards include 19 ships containing radioactive waste; 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery and 17,000 containers of radioactive waste.

Bellona Murmansk director Andrei Zolotkov said an international dialogue about raising radioactive Russian military machinery 20 years ago would have been impossible.

But the overwhelming tally of international cooperative successes on radiological and nuclear hazards in Northwest Russia are, he said, immeasurable. As such, the conference has opened the door for a joint Norwegian-Russian inspection, particularly of the K-159 submarine, later this year………

The radiological archipelago

The Bellona-Rosatom workshop reinvigorated discussion about radiological research surrounding the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, were the Soviets scuttled tons of solid radioactive waste and vessels containing spent nuclear fuel.

The task of past expeditions to this Davy Jones’ locker of radioactive debris has been to inspect sunken reactor cores, ships and containers of solid radioactive waste for leaking radionuclides, as well as to search out other radiation hazards that have not been charted – something Korolyov told the international gathering.

“We have to continue searching for what is lost,” he said, and citing that previous searches for barges loaded with reactor chambers have been unsuccessful, though they are assumed to be in the waters surrounding Novaya Zemlya……..

April 5, 2014 Posted by | oceans, Russia | 2 Comments

Bad timing to let Russia be in control of Britain’s nuclear reactors

Russian-BearRussian nuclear power in the UK? We might want to think about that, 13 Mar 14, 

We should beware Russia’s politicisation of gas supplies to Ukraine as we contemplate a deal with it to build an atomic plant in Britain

Clearly there is something jarring about the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) boasting about its positive negotiations with the Russians over building a nuclear power station in Britain just as a summit is due to begin in London about what sanctions can be taken against Moscow over its involvement in the Crimea.

If Vladimir Putin is threatening to once again use energy as a political weapon in the Ukraine by cutting off the country’s gas exports, then this is a bad moment to talk about state-owned Rosatom taking a critical stake in UK power infrastructure through the construction of an atomic plant.

Western Europe is already 30% (and in past years 50%) dependent on Russian gas, while London now hosts the headquarters of Gazprom’s global gas trading operation. But surely Britain does not want to open itself up to further dependence on Moscow by allowing its electricity to be generated by Rosatom? Well, few people five years back would have believed state-ownedChinese firms would form key partners in the project to commission the UK’s first new nuclear plant in 27 years at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and yet that is now settled.

So why not the Russians too, the little question of sanctions aside? After all, Rosatom has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Decc and with nuclear and aerospace-contractor Rolls Royce……..

But the current biggest roadblock to any new nuclear facilities is financial. China and perhaps Russia may be willing to sink billions of pounds into Britain’s nuclear industry as a showcase for exports to the rest of the world, but even they will need help from the UK state like that being offered at Hinkley. The European commission may yet rule that the Decc “strike price” of £89.50 per megawatt hour is an illegal subsidy, which would leave any wider new nuclear programme by the Russians or anyone else dead in the water.

March 13, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

Russia aims to monopolise Europe’s nuclear industry?

Russia muscles into European nuclear industry, Global Post 23 Jan 14 A new deal with Hungary is set to boost Moscow’s influence as its grip on oil and gas wanes.BERLIN, Germany — A leading Hungarian official has said an agreement last week to give Russia a foothold in his country’s nuclear future is Budapest’s best deal in 40 years.

Hungary granted Russia’s state energy company Rosatom a $14-billion contractto double the capacity of the country’s sole nuclear power plant, a 2000-megawatt reactor in the Danube River city of Paks.

The funds would be offered as a 30-year loan package to be extended at below-market rates.

“These new reactors will surely enhance Hungary’s energy independence and security,” Russian President VladimirPutin told reporters.

devil-bargainBut one person’s bargain is another’s Faustian deal — in this case at least. Critics say the sweetheart deal may as well have been written by Mephistopheles, the demon of German folklore.

They say the project was never tendered for competitive bids despite an earlier expression of interest from the French energy company Areva. Skeptics worry it represents an effort by Putin to add nuclear energy to the oil and gas monopoly he’s used so effectively to cement Russia’s influence in Central and Eastern Europe.

“What are Hungarians to make of the fact that Prime Minister Viktor Orban has committed them to invest [billions] building two new nuclear reactors without consulting his own cabinet let alone parliament, industry experts, or the Hungarian people?” asked a pointed editorial in the English-language Budapest Beacon…..

The European Commission’s decision about the agreement’s compliance could have far-reaching implications.

In 2012, allegations of corruption surrounded the Russian bid to expand the Czech Republic’s Temelin nuclear reactor due to the involvement of a Czech firm under investigation for insider trading and breach of trust in connection with previous deals. Now it looks doubtful that project will go forward at all, according to Czech media.

Similarly, a Russian project to build a 2000-MW nuclear plant in Belene, Bulgaria, was excoriated as “a corrupt and completely illegitimate business project, aimed at producing abundant and expensive electricity in a country with excess capacity in a region of declining electricity demand,” in the words of Ognyan Minchev, a research fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Balkan Trust for Democracy. The Bulgarian parliament voted to scrap plans for the reactor in February last year following a protracted debate over its environmental impact and a new investigation into the projected costs……

January 24, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia placing nuclear missiles near Polish border

Baltic alarm over reports of Russian nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad   Russia has placed nuclear Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, which borders Poland andLithuania, according to reports in Russia’s Izvestia newspaper.

Izvestia appears to be confirming German newspaper reports this weekend that missiles were visible near the Polish border on satellite imagery.

The news of the advanced placement has caused alarm in the Baltic states, wary of Russian militarism after decades of dominance by the Soviet Union.

Russia announced in 2011 that it would place missiles in Kaliningrad to counter Nato’s plans for a Western anti-missile shield.

Nato’s system of radars and missiles aims to neutralise the threat from Russian missiles by intercepting them mid-flight.

But Russia says the shield upsets the fine strategic balance, which has kept East and West locked in a nuclear stalemate since the end of the cold war.

December 17, 2013 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Russia keen to sell nuclear reactors to USA

Russian-BearMegatons to Megawatts 2.0: Russia eyes new nuclear project with US energy industry  December 11, 2013 “……..Rosatom enters US nuclear energy market Marking the end of the HEU-LEU agreement signed in 1993, the head of Russia’s Rosatom Kiriyenko--tsarnuclear energy corporation, Sergey Kiriyenko, has met with his American counterpart in Washington, the US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and his deputy Daniel Poneman.

The parties “compiled a list of mutually interesting projects” Kiriyenko told journalists on Tuesday. The head of the Russian nuclear energy industry named one such project: an international fast-neutron reactor, but refrained from specifying the others.

Kiriyenko said that the HEU-LEU agreement has become “unique experience” which paved the way for future Russia-US cooperation in the nuclear energy sphere.

Rosatom has already signed more than $5.5 billion worth of direct contracts, with US nuclear power generators outside the framework of the HEU-LEU agreement, Kiriyenko acknowledged.

“It is the basis that allows our companies to discuss further cooperation options after the completion of this project,” Kiriyenko said……..

December 12, 2013 Posted by | marketing, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

Russia aggressively marketing nuclear power to South Africa


the draft Russian agreement, which Business Day has seen, had a veto clause, which would allow the parties to block the involvement of a third country


Several countries are jockeying for position in South Africa’s nuclear build programme, which envisages the construction of three nuclear power plants to supply 9,600MW at the cost of at least R1-trillion. The government has said the procurement process is close to finalised and there is high expectation among bidders that it will go ahead next year.


This week, the temperature over the nuclear build was further heightened when state-owned Russian corporation Rosatom hosted a nuclear suppliers’ forum in Johannesburg “with the aim of establishing and developing lasting partnerships in South Africa”.

At the forum on Monday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) and a Rosatom subsidiary. Continue reading

November 30, 2013 Posted by | marketing, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Disturbing photographs of Russia’s nuclear decay in the Barents Sea

PHOTOGRAPHY This Island Holds The Decaying Remains Of The Soviet Nuclear Fleet, Gizmodo, 26 Nov 13  

 Located in the Barents Sea just 120km from Norway, the island is home to a host of used-up reactors and other parts from Soviet nuclear submarines. High-level radioactive waste is relegated to the island’s tunnels for long-term storage, so everything you’re seeing in these pictures consists of the low to intermediate level waste left scattered above ground. And according to one Soviet coastguard who witnessed the dumping in April of 1991, the level of safety precautions was “scandalous”.


Seeing the slow decay of these once-awesome feats of military prowess is oddly beautiful, if not totally creepy. Below are some of photographer Ralph Mirebs’s photographs of the Soviet ghost island, and you can the rest of his work over at English Russia……………… [English RussiaHTTP://WWW.GIZMODO.COM.AU/2013/11/THIS-ISLAND-HOLDS-THE-DECAYING-REMAINS-OF-THE-SOVIET-NUCLEAR-FLEET/#

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Russia | Leave a comment

Reasons behind Russia’s belligerent nuclear posture

Russia Flexes Its Nuclear Muscles, The National Interest, Nikolas K. Gvosdev  November 14, 2013   Two decades after the Cold War removed the Damocles’ sword of mutually-assured destruction in a sea of nuclear fire from over our heads, and, in the words of George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn, “made the doctrine of mutual Soviet-American deterrence obsolete“, the Russian decision to update, modernize and upgrade its nuclear forces is seen as a worrisome harbinger of a new era of strategic competition between Moscow and Washington. …….

Last month, the Russian government unveiled spending plans that would double the amount allocated for the country’s strategic nuclear forces, to reach 46 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) by 2016. That announcement was followed by a “snap check” of the country’s nuclear deterrent, held at the end of October, in which both land-based and submarine-launched ballistic missiles were fired and Russian air and missile defense systems were tested at the Kapustin Yar proving grounds. This nuclear exercise was designed to remind the United States (as well as other powers) that Russia is no paper tiger, at least when it comes to its deterrent capabilities…….
Nuclear weapons hold a special pride of place in Russia’s strategic conception of itself as a great power. It is only in the nuclear realm (and in the related field of space flight) that Russia retains parity with a United States which otherwise far surpasses Russia in all other categories of national power—in terms of economic output, global reach, number of allies, or ideological “soft power.”…..

it is important to note important gaps between stated plans and executable outcomes. Reading the press releases of the Russian Ministry of Defense alone does not provide the entire story.

For one thing, the next generation systems have flaws. Nearly half of the tests of the Bulava missile—meant to be the signature piece of the new Borei-class boomers—have failed, with some experts questioning whether the other tests which were classed as “successes” are also masking problems…….

For an Obama administration that holds out the promise of a world without nuclear weapons, however, the Russian decision to renovate its nuclear posture creates real difficulties, especially when Russia is also resuming long-distance patrols and conducting exercises. (The Russian claim that these new efforts are in direct response to U.S. missile-defense efforts also creates political difficulties.)…… the Russian push to upgrade its nuclear forces may push the administration to scuttle any plan for shifting the U.S. nuclear posture to the most minimal one needed for deterrence.

November 15, 2013 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s ambitious, but dangerous floating nuclear power plants

safety-symbol-Smflag_RussiaRussia’s floating nuclear plants to power remote Arctic regions, The Conversation,  Tony Roulstone, 12 Nov 13  “…..Russia is embarking on an ambitious and somewhat imaginative programme of building floating nuclear power stations…… These reactors, mounted on huge, 140m by 30m barges, are being built in the Baltic shipyard in St Petersburg and will be floated through the Norwegian and Barents Seas to where they will generate heat and electrical power in the Arctic.

The first, Academician Lomonosov, has been built and its two 35MWe KLT-40S reactors are now being installed. Lomonosovis destined for Vilyuchinsk, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East where she will be operating by 2016. Up to ten similar plants are destined for similarly remote and unpopulated areas……. The KLT-40S reactor is fuelled by 30-40% enriched uranium, which falls outside what would be allowed for civil use (concern about weapons proliferation limits enrichment to very low levels). The reactors are built in factories and assembled in shipyards, where productivity is much higher and quality standards easier to police than on construction sites. But military reactors are designed with little thought for costs and because of their small power output it’s very likely that their lifetime generating costs will be several times that of large, grid-connected reactors, and many more times higher that of a gas power station…….

Just how safe Russian military reactors are is clouded in secrecy; we just don’t know how safe the KLT-40S is. Russia has successfully operated nine nuclear icebreakers over the past 50 years. On the other hand we know that seven Russian nuclear submarines have sunk, some due to reactor problems and others due to weapons explosion onboard, and a further ten reported reactor accidents. So this reactor’s pedigree is not unblemished.

Cooling systems for civil reactors have become very complex and this is a prime cause of soaring construction costs. It is difficult to install in a naval vessel the number of systems and separate them so that they provide redundancy should one fail. …..

As with many other aspects, we do not know whether the containment structure of the Russian reactors will be effective. Though the Russians are being imaginative in developing barge-mounted reactors to address a problem specific to their geography and their needs, the lack of openness makes it hard to see how useful their nuclear technology can be in the West…….

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Russia, safety | 1 Comment

Computer worm Stuxnet ‘badly infected’ Russian nuclear power plant

computer-worm-nukeStuxnet infected Russian nuclear plant By Darren Pauli on Nov 8, 2013  Jumped airgap, Kaspersky boss says.,stuxnet-infected-russian-nuclear-plant.aspx  Stuxnet had ‘badly infected’ the internal network of a Russian nuclear plant after the sophisticated malware caused chaos in Iran’s nuclear facilities in flag_RussiaNatanz.

The malware, widely considered to have been developed by the US Government as a means to disrupt Iran’s nuclear enrichment plans, had crossed a physically separated ‘air-gapped’ network in the Russian plant after it was carried across on a USB device.

Eugene Kaspersky, the charismatic boss of the Russian antivirus company bearing his name, said a staffer at the unnamed nuclear plant informed him of the infection. “[The staffer said] their nuclear plant network which was disconnected from the internet … was badly infected by Stuxnet,” Kaspersky said.

“So unfortunately these people who were responsible for offensive technologies, they recognise cyber weapons as an opportunity.” But USB devices were used to ferry malware cross a far greater air-gap: Russian astronauts had carried a virus on removable media to the International Space Station infecting machines there, Kaspersky said.

In a presentation given at the Canberra Press Club designed to give mainstream journalists a broad overview of the state of information security, the chief executive offered his view of the state of online crime and state-sponsored espionage. “All the data is stolen,” Kaspersky said. “At least twice.”

He said sophisticated malware like Gauss, Flame and Red October were rare and would require around $10 million to build.

Such malware had infected Saudi Aramco knocking it offline for two weeks, Kaspersky noted. Half of all malware was written in Chinese, according to Kaspersky. About a third was written in Spanish or Portuguese, followed by Russian-coded malware that was less prevalent but the most sophisticated in the world, he said.

He said Chinese malware appeared to ‘not care’ about operational security because researchers regularly found personal photos and social networking accounts on servers used in attack campaigns.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology | 2 Comments

Russia wants to subsidise Armenian nuclear power plant

Russian-BearRussia Offers to Subsidize Nuclear Plant, 6 Nov 13YEREVAN (Arka)Russia is ready to finance 35 percent of the cost of construction of a new power unit for Armenia’s nuclear power plant, Vahram Petrosyan, the secretary of a presidential council on nuclear power safety, said today……On September 3, Russian president Putin said experts from Russian state nuclear company Rosatom and Armenian experts will work to extend the service life of the Armenian nuclear power plant in Metsamor for another 10 years until 2026.

Petrosyan said the extension of the service life of the facility requires at least $150 million……

he governments of the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation will soon sign an agreement on cooperation in the area of nuclear safety, the President said. The agreement will allow Armenia to:

– develop infrastructure for nuclear safety in preparation for the construction of new energy units based on Russian designs.

– train, re-train and upgrade specialists of nuclear safety, taking into consideration IAEA recommendations.

– expand the framework of cooperation in nuclear energy…….

November 7, 2013 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

The Cold War very nearly brought global nuclear catastrophe

Atomic-Bomb-Sm “Even though the cold war ended more than 20 years ago, thousands of warheads are still actively deployed by the nuclear-armed states,”   “We continue to face unacceptably high risks and will continue to do so until we have taken steps to abolish these exceptionally dangerous weapons.”.

text-historyHow a war game brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster Former classified documents show how close the Soviet Union came to launching an attack in 1983 The Guardian,  The Observer, Sunday 3 November 2013 Chilling new evidence that Britain and America came close to provoking the Soviet Union into launching a nuclear attack has emerged in former classified documents written at the height of the cold war.

Cabinet memos and briefing papers released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a major war games exercise, Operation Able Art, conducted in November 1983 by the US and its Nato allies was so realistic it made the Russians believe that a nuclear strike on its territory was a real possibility. Continue reading

November 4, 2013 Posted by | history, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian boys play with their nuclear toys

missile-envyMoscow Conducts Large-Scale Nuclear Attack Drill Four long-range missiles launched in war games  The Washington Free Beacon, BY:    October 30, 2013  Russian strategic forces carried out a large-scale surprise military drill on Wednesday, launching four nuclear missiles that were closely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, U.S. officials said.

The drill began around 9:00 am ET and included the test launch of two land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

The test firings were unusual because of the number of missiles fired at one time, said officials who discussed some details of the drill on condition of anonymity.

State Department spokeswoman Alexandra F. Bell confirmed the tests and said the long-range missile firings were “conducted consistent with the requirements of the New START Treaty.”

At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said: ”With regard to Russia’s recent testing of its strategic forces missiles, the United States received the proper notifications prior to the launches.”……

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia trying out 2 small floating nuclear reactors

Nuclear ahoy! Russia installs reactors on floating power station Smart Planet, By  | October 4, 2013 “…..Over the last week, it has lowered two small reactors onto a ship berthed in St. Petersburg, which will eventually serve as a floating nuclear power station, World Nuclear News reported.…..The floating plant is due off the coast of the Chukotka Peninsula in northeast Russia in 2016, in a part of the Arctic Ocean known as the East Siberian Sea. The Chutkotka Peninsula has a mining industry….

October 5, 2013 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Russia now subsidising renewable energy

Russia offers first ever subsidies for renewable energy PV MAGAZINE, 01. OCTOBER 2013 BY:  IAN CLOVER The world’s largest oil producer plans to develop its renewable energy sector – which currently produces just 0.8% of the country’s power – and has hosted its first clean power auction, with 39 ventures securing subsidies. Russia has offered its first ever state-backed support for renewable energy, offering subsidies for 39 clean power ventures with a combined capacity of 504 MW.

Solar power won the day, with 399 MW secured, while the wind power sector won just one-tenth of the 1,100 MW of wind capacity offered in the auction. By contrast, solar developers bid for nearly 1,000 MW, winning 32 projects to be built between 2014 and 2017.

“The tender has been quite successful for solar energy, showing that the Russian market can attract developers,” the head of the Russian Solar Industry Association, Anton Usachev, told Bloomberg. Because developers are required to use at least 50% of materials sourced from local contractors, the wind power sector may have been reluctant to invest, he believes.

Solar bidders, on the other hand, were evidently confident in their ability to satisfy local content requirements.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin ratified the subsidy program, which is intended to wean the country off its reliance on fossil fuels……


October 1, 2013 Posted by | renewable, Russia | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 687 other followers