Unique nuclear cooperation gives results

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Published 28.02.2013, updated 01.10.2014 14:01

Keywords: Nuclear action plan

Norway and Russia continue their successful cooperation in securing and removing large quantities of radioactive waste in Andreyev Bay in Russia. On Wednesday, 20 March, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority prolonged its cooperation agreement with the Russian Ministry of Defence in this field.

Large quantities of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste have for years been stored under highly objectionable conditions in Andreyev Bay, which is situated around sixty kilometres from the Norwegian-Russian border. For many years, Norway has contributed with considerable infrastructure measures in Andreyev Bay. The county governor of Finnmark is the Norwegian project manager for these projects. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority has collaborated with the Russian Ministry of Defence for years on regulating and improving nuclear and radiation safety in this area.

 

The unique and open collaboration with Russia in this field has been very successful, and has been presented within international arenas. A number of nations are now cooperating more openly on the problems with nuclear legacy after the Cold War.

 

Strengthened safety culture

- The cooperation has led to very good results with regards to regulation and supervision. Norway has contributed to a strengthened safety culture in Russia. A mutual understanding has been created with regards to principles, attitudes and practice in this area, says Technical Director Malgorzata Sneve of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is not aware of any such nuclear cooperation between a civil authority and a defence authority across borders in any other country.

 

The Office of the Auditor General of Norway had no concerns regarding this governmental cooperation in its report from 2009-2010 on radiation safety and protection of the environment against pollution from radioactive sources in North-western Russia: «The Office of the Auditor General of Norway also has a positive view on supervisory authorities in Norway and Russia cooperating on both the development of regulations, emergency preparedness and environmental monitoring».

 

Important to the government

Andreyev Bay was a military service base for storage of used reactor fuel from the Russian Northern Fleet's nuclear-powered vessels in the 1960's. Norway was the first country to be allowed to visit the site, and has since 1997 funded and implemented a number of measures in order to improve the situation there. The rehabilitation work is one of the government's most important priorities within the nuclear action plan, and today Norway is spending considerable funds on improving conditions in the area.

 

Safety for workers

The challenge of the nuclear legacy after the Cold War is that there are no international standards for handling nuclear problems. Just as in other countries, Russia has had to develop new safety systems and methods for a good and unified regulation of the hazardous nuclear clean-up efforts. These efforts have, in cooperation with Norway, now become well organised and anchored under various Russian authorities. In dismantling nuclear submarines and nuclear-powered surface vessels, Norway and Russia have focused on radiation protection for workers, the general population and the environment, as well as emergency preparedness against any accidents.

 

- It is very important for both countries to maintain good communication in case of an emergency situation. Through the bilateral cooperation between the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority and various Russian authorities, a common understanding of a long-term safety culture has been built. This work continues now that the cooperation agreement with the Russian Ministry of Defence has been renewed for another five years, says Malgorzata Sneve of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

 

The cooperation agreement was signed on Wednesday, 20 February, when the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority and several Russian authorities met in Oslo to discuss nuclear safety.
The short-term safety cooperation in the agreement will be tied to specific clean-up projects, while the long-term cooperation will focus more on general support for various Russian authorities, building relations, safety culture and interaction with more open processes.

 

FACTS:

  • Today, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is collaborating with the following Russian authorities : 
  • The Ministry of Defence, department of nuclear and radiation supervision 
  • FMBA – the board of health supervision for radiation protection, biological, chemical and radiation safety 
  • Rostechnadzor – supervision authority for technical, radiation and nuclear safety 
  • Rosatom – previously the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy, which is responsible for cleaning up the facilities, but also for coordination in an emergency situation

The main goals of the governmental cooperation:

  • prepare threat assessments and criteria for environmental impact assessments 
  • contribute to strengthening Norwegian and Russian emergency preparedness and lower the threshold for early notification of accidents and the exchange of information 
  • influence the development and implementation of regulations with regard to a long-term safety culture 
  • contribute to strengthening independent Russian supervisory authorities and improve coordination between them 
  • assist in specific, technical projects in connection with clean-up efforts 
  • contribute to the knowledge of levels and trends for radioactive contamination 
  • support development and promote safety culture at Russian facilities
  • contribute to increased focus on the decommissioning of old facilities