The Soviet Union Dumped Enormous Quantities Of Nuclear Waste
In Kara Sea In The Arctic Ocean
By Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd)
10 September, 2012
According to documents with Norwegian officials, Russian authorities have revealed that its predecessor state, the erstwhile Soviet Union (USSR) had dumped “enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste ... into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean”. The catalogue 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 radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel“. This revelation was published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on August 28, 2012. http://www.bellona.org/subjects/Northern_Fleet_radwaste_and_spent_nuclear_fuel. According to the report, the sunken K-27 submarine's nuclear reactors could explode underwater, with unpredictable consequences.
Russia's cry for help to map the waste locations and decontaminate the sea (if it is at all possible), includes a duty to keep other countries informed. It could be that the real risks of nuclear waste disposal of the highly secretive Soviet era are being now understood. However, it must be noted that with the unprecedented global warming runaway melt of arctic sea ice in 2012, Russia wishes to be the first to explore the arctic ocean bed for oil. Since the nuclear waste would be an obstacle to exploration and extraction, there is certainly an element of Russian national self-interest in this new-found “transparency”.
It also needs to be mentioned that USA, UK and France (and probably China too), all permanent members of UNSC along with Russia, have in the past, equally irresponsibly dumped nuclear waste into the oceans at various places.
These Big Five nuclear states, which deem all other countries as incapable of responsible behaviour inasmuch as nuclear matters are concerned, owe it to the international community to come clean on past nuclear waste disposal like the Russians have done.
S.G.Vombatkere retired as major general after 35 years in the Indian military. He is engaged in voluntary social work, and is member of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). As Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Iowa, USA, he coordinates and lectures a course on Science, Technology and Sustainable Development for under-graduate students from USA and Canada. He holds a master of engineering degree in structural engineering from the University of Poona and a PhD in civil structural dynamics from I.I.T, Madras.
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