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NDEP Nuclear Window

Arctic steamer

The Nuclear Window was a special multilateral funding mechanism within the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) Support Fund for activities to manage the nuclear legacy from the operations of the Soviet-era nuclear powered vessels in North West Russia.

The Nuclear Window complemented Russian and bilateral funded programmes aimed at the decommissioning of nuclear-powered vessels, provision of safe and secure infrastructure for nuclear materials and the safe removal of spent nuclear fuel from the region.

In 2003 the Nuclear Window (NW) of Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) was established with the objective of delivering environmental improvements and reduction of risks associated with the nuclear legacy in North-West Russia. Contributors provided €165 million to the Nuclear Window.

The main areas of concern were Andreeva Bay, the Lepse nuclear service ship, and the Papa-class nuclear powered submarine reactors.


Key NDEP Nuclear Window funded projects include:

  • The construction of facilities and the provision of equipment for the safe and secure handling and transport of spent nuclear fuel located in the dry storage units from the former coastal technical base at Andreeva Bay. This major project was completed in 2017 and the shipment of spent fuel to the nuclear reprocessing plant in Mayak in the Ural Mountains is in progress.  Over 20,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies will be removed over a period of several years. 
  • Decommissioning of a derelict and heavily contaminated former spent fuel storage facility (Building No.5) at Andreeva Bay which  contained six spent fuel assemblies ((SFAs) out of a total number of over 20,000 which had been transferred to the dry storage units). The building represented a significant radiological and environmental risk. Remotely operated equipment to retrieve and remove the SFA from the building was been development and the installation and commissioning of the equipment and removal  of the SFAs was completed in 2019.  
  • Removal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the reactors of the Papa class submarine (NPS 501) with the help of specialised equipment. Following the manufacture and supply of the defueling equipment and preparation of the supporting infrastructure, both reactors were successfully defueled, the SNF was transported to Mayak (under US funding) and the reactor compartment  was formed into a three-compartment unit and subsequently transferred to Sayda Bay in Murmansk region for long-term storage in 2015.  
  • Decommissioning of the service ship Lepse. The Lepse contained a large amount of spent fuel from icebreaker defueling operations. The Lepsewas safely towed from Murmansk to Nerpa shipyard where it was dismantled to leave two large storage packages (LSPs).  The aft LSP containing radioactive waste was removed to the nearby Sayda Bay facility for long-term storage. Infrastructure and equipment required for the safe removal of the spent nuclear fuel from Lepse was completed in 2018 and the start of the SNF removal operations was completed in 2020.


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