A Grant Implementing Agreement was placed in the framework of the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Programme between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the Administrator of grant funds provided by the NDEP Fund) and the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety. The Agreement was also signed by Rosatom State Corporation.

The objective of the Project is to improve the radiation protection situation and to remove a serious environmental hazard in the region by retrieving the SNF and radwaste from the Lepse and sending it for reprocessing or interim storage.

Rosatom nominated the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety as the recipient of Grant funds and commissioned FCNRS to act as the Employer for works to be carried out by contractors that were to be selected following the tendering process.

For these purposes, the Project Management Unit for the Lepse Project was established at FCNRS to ensure administration and co-ordination of all activities under the Project in compliance with EBRD’s established rules and procedures and applicable Russian Law.

Specialised storage facilities on board the Lepse contain spent fuel assemblies (SFAs), their cooling period is nearly 40 years.  A considerable amount of high and intermediate-level liquid radwaste (LRW) is stored in the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage facility channels, in special tanks and in the cooling circuit. A number of containers with solid radwaste (SRW) are arranged in the FMB compartments.

The majority of SFAs stored on board of the Lepse are classified as damaged ones and cannot be unloaded using a standard process.

Removal of SFAs and radwaste from the Lepse SNF storage tanks is a complicated task that can be delivered only by application of a specially developed process using non-standard tools and equipment to be designed under the Project. 

As a result of FCNRS’ work under the Project, the Lepse hull was completely dismantled into two large storage packages (LSP). The aft LSP with LRW tanks is completed, with LRW having been drained earlier and the sediments having been cemented, and has been transferred to Saida Bay Long-Term Storage Site for storage.  The fore LSP that contains SNF storage tanks is completed.

The Shelter for the Lepse fore LSP defuelling will be completed in Q4, 2017, and specialist equipment for SNF removal and management was manufactured and tested before March 2017.

Thus, the plans for 2017 are to complete the preliminary phase of the Project following whose outcome the dismantling of the ship hull and LSP with SNF storage tanks will be completed, defuelling equipment will be manufactured and tested, and the Shelter will be erected. This will enable commencement of Phase II – cutting out SFA cells. This is scheduled for Q2, 2018.

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