Russia Getting Rid of Floating Chernobyls

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti, by Viktor Litovkin) — I’d like to start with some figures. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union built more nuclear-powered ships than any other country – about 250 nuclear missile submarines, five surface ships, including several heavy missile cruises of the Admiral Ushakov class, eight ice-breakers, the most famous of which bore Lenin’s name, and one lighter carrier ship Sevmorput.

But no infrastructure was built for scrapping these ships after decommissioning. There was no system for the storage and disposal of liquid and solid spent fuel and other radioactive waste.

As a result, Russia has inherited a huge problem of cleaning its territorial waters and lands of what people have dubbed the “floating Chernobyls.” The sinking of any decommissioned submarine with nuclear fuel may trigger a major ecological disaster.