Norway to offer Russia $2.4 mln to upgrade nuclear storage facility

Friday, February 22, 2008

MURMANSK, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - Norway is to provide 58 million rubles ($2.4 million) for the overhaul of a nuclear waste storage facility in northern Russia, a spokesman for the Murmansk Region governor said on Thursday.

The plan was announced during a meeting between Governor Yury Yevdokimov and the governor of Norway's Finnmark county, Gunnar Kjonnoy, in Kirkenes, a Norwegian town near the Russian border.

The funds will be used to renovate the area around the Andreyeva Guba storage, located 30 miles from the Norwegian border.

Europe's largest nuclear waste storage facility holds some 21,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies with 35 metric tons of radioactive materials, and 12,000 cubic meters of solid and liquid waste, mostly removed from nuclear powered submarines and icebreakers.

The storage was set up some 40 year ago as a provisional facility. Foreign partners, such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden, were invited in the early 2000s to make preparations for the removal of nuclear waste from the site.

International experts have repeatedly raised concerns over environmental threat posed by the facility. Poor maintenance and the severe Arctic climate can cause a radioactive leakage and contamination of Andreyeva Guba, a Barents Sea bay.

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