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calendar   Friday - August 07, 2020

Makes Me Wonder

Russian Arctic Cleanup: Going Green With The Glowing Green?

Over decades Sovs dumped 18,000 nuclear refuse objects on Arctic Ocean floor

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Gotta wonder where that Arctic warming is coming from, eh?

Russia has several thousand nuclear objects dumped on its Arctic sea floor. Now, the most dangerous will be removed
The country’s nuclear energy company will over the next 8 years lift two submarines and four reactor compartments from the sea bottom of the Barents and Kara Seas.

These objects are not environmentally safe, a representative of Rosatom made clear as he this week presented a clean-up plan for the north Russian waters.

In the period between the late 1960s to the late 1980s, about 18 thousand radioactive objects were dumped to sea in the remote northern waters. Most of them represent little environmental risk. But some are increasingly seen as a hazard to Arctic ecosystems.

“Rosatom over the next eight years intend to lift from the bottom of Russian Arctic waters the six objects that are most dangerous with regard to radioactive pollution,” the company spokesperson told news agency TASS.
Two entire subs

On the list of objects are the reactors from submarines “K-11”, “K-19” and “K-140”, as well as spent nuclear fuel from the reactor that served icebreaker “Lenin”.

In addition, two entire submarines will be lifted, the “K-27” from the Kara Sea and “K-159” from the Barents Sea. While the former was deliberately dumped by Soviet authorities in 1982, the latter sunk during a towing operation in 2003.

The “K-27” is located on 33 meter depths east of archipelago Novaya Zemlya. It has by experts been described as a possible radioactive “time-bomb”. The “K-159” is located on 200 meter depths off the coast of the Kola Peninsula.

now all they need is for somebody else to pay for the cleanup

The lifting operation of the hazardous nuclear wastes will not only be technically difficult, but also very expensive.

A recent report made for Rosatom and the European Commission evaluated the costs of lifting the six most dangerous objects to €278 million. That includes bringing them safely to a yard for decommissioning and long-term storage.

The operation with the “K-159” is alone estimated to cost €57,5 millions. The lifting the “K-27”, transporting to a shipyard for decommissioning and long-term storage in Saida Bay, will come at a price of €47,7 millions, the report reads.
International cooperation

Hardly, Russia’s increasingly cash-strapped treasury will not have €278 millions for the cleanup.

Previously, a number of countries have granted billions to Post-Soviet Russian efforts to cope with nuclear wastes.

The greatest amount Global Warming has been along the Russian Arctic coast. Golly, do you think there could be a connection?

Oh BTW, it’s been an imperative that the K-159 and K-27 be immediately raised from the seabed ... for more than 6 years now. That’s after years of empty promises. The ships have been there for decades.

[ May 2014, MURMANSK ]– It is of critical importance that two sunken derelict Russian nuclear submarines, one of which was scuttled as radioactive trash and the other of which sank in rough weather on its way to decommissioning, be raised from the floor of the Kara Sea, scholars from Moscow’s Kurchatov Institute said Friday.

The two subs in question – the K-159 and the K-27 – lay on the ocean floor, the first at the entrance to Kola Bay and the second in the shallows surrounding the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago, a former nuclear bomb testing range during Soviet times, as well as something of a dumping ground for Cold War legacy nuclear waste.

Both have also been the subject of long-time promises by Russian officials that they will indeed be raised.

According to Alexei Kazennov, a researcher with Moscow’s respected Kurchatov institute, the K-159, which sank in August 2003 under tow to decommissioning at the Nerpa shipyard – in more than 200 meters of water, taking with it 800 kilograms of highly enriched uranium fuel and claiming the lives all nine sailors aboard – is currently emitting one and a half times as much radioactivity as dozens of other radiological hazards dumped at sea over time by the Soviet and Russian navies.

The K-27 submarine, was scuttled in 50 meters of water in Stepovogo Bay of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago in the Kara Sea in 1981 after a serious reactor accident that killed nine. Its reactors contain 90 kilograms of uranium-235.
...
It is worth bearing in mind that the K-159 sunk while under tow across a major ship-trafficking waterway as well as one populated by fisheries.
...
Large-scale dumping of radioactive waste and nuclear fuel was at its height between 1965 and 1972. Some 17,000 tons of solid radioactive waste are estimated to have been purposely sunk in its waters, in addition to the K-27, and the 907 nuclear submarine, which has two reactors on board. Other solid radioactive waste in the region includes biological shielding assemblies from the Lenin nuclear icebreaker, whose location has not yet been determined. Another piece of unaccounted-for nuclear trash under the sea is the port-side reactor of the 421 nuclear submarine.

According to the Kurchatov Institute, the biological shields are the most radioactive of waste items sunk in the Kara Sea, second only to spent nuclear fuel. The activity of a caisson with such a biological screen in 2012 measured 1196.7 terebequerel, or 32.4 kilocurie, which is some 30 percent of the entire activity of radioactive waste submerged in the Kara Sea.

How do you say “We’ll get right on it, someday, maybe” in Russian?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/07/2020 at 08:39 AM   
Filed Under: • EnvironmentRussia •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 28, 2020

three cheers for global warming

Northwest Passage Open From Greenland East To Central Canada

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Russian LNG Tankers Take The Short Route

The spike in shipping along the remote Russian Arctic shipping route comes as sea ice melting over the last weeks has reached unprecedented levels.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, ice levels on the 15th of July stood at 7.51 million square kilometers, which is 330,000 square kilometers below the record for the time of year set in 2011.

A key reason for the major sea ice melting is the heat wave that in May and June moved across the Russian Arctic coast, leading to very low sea ice extent in the Laptev and Barents Seas, the researchers say.

Already in mid-July, the Northern Sea Route (NSR) was almost ice-free and by 20th July there was completely open waters across the vast seaway.

Ice maps from the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute show that also the Vilkitsky Strait and the East Siberian Sea, the most icy and difficult parts of the sea route, has easy passage for ships.
Many ships

More than 50 vessels are currently sailing on the route, figures from the Northern Sea Route Administration show. Several of them are tankers bringing petroleum products from Arctic fields to Asian markets.

The first LNG carriers made it across the route already in late May, the earliest voyages on the route ever.

Ships from Asia are going the other way too, up north past Japan, around Kamchatka, and then west across the Arctic Ocean to Irkutsk.

The Northwest Passage is fully open from southern Greenland, east to north of Iceland, east to well north of Norway and Finland, east across the Barents Sea north past the island of Novay Zemlya into the Kara Sea. A slight choke point of ice just west of Bolshevik Island slows things down, but the passage is not iced over there. Once into the Laptev Sea, it looks like clear sailing if ships keep close to the Siberian coast into the Chukchi Sea and then south past Alaska and into the Pacific. Or the more daring could brave the narrow but open corridor across the Northwest Territory of Canada about as far as the Amundsen Gulf. After that the ice takes over, east through the small islands up there way north of Hudson Bay to the west side of Greenland.

Sail quickly comrades; this won’t last.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/28/2020 at 08:20 AM   
Filed Under: • EconomicsInternationalRussia •  
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calendar   Tuesday - July 14, 2020

Oops They Did It Again

Another big oil spill in that northern Russia. This time it was jet fuel.

another major oil spill on Taymyr tundra

44.5 tons of jet fuel “leaked” from a storage tank in 15 minutes. Jet fuel weighs 6.8lb/gal, so we’re talking about 13,089 gallons. A “leak” flowing 873 gallons per minute, which is more than a 6” diameter pipe can flow.

The emergency situation appeared in the village of Tukhar when a pipeline ruptured and about 44,5 tons of fuel leaked into the ground.

The village is located near the Bolshaya Kheta, a side river to the great Yenisey.

According to Norilsktransgaz, a subsidiary of mining and metals company Nornickel, the leak took place on the 12th July and lasted only 15 minutes. Emergency services were quickly on site and managed to halt the spill. There is no health hazards for locals in the area, the company informs.

There are now taken all possible measures on the collection of the spilled oil products. No information is provided by the company about possible spills to the local waterways.

The accident happen only few weeks after another subsidiary of Nornickel, the Norilsk-Taymyr Energy Company, saw more than 20,000 tons of diesel oil leak into the local soils and waters.

The spill came as the ground under a major fuel reservoir sunk and subsequently ruined the foundation of the installation. It is the melting permafrost in the area that is believed to be the underlying reason for the catastrophe.

This is central northern Russia. Tukhar is about 400 miles south of the Kara Sea, and about 1400 miles east of Finland.

Sure, blame global warming. Or blame shortsighted engineering that didn’t account for the permafrost ever softening. Like northern Canada, most of northern Russia is permafrost, which means it’s water logged ground, frozen solid. The ancient glaciers didn’t go anywhere, they just melted in place. It’s swamp land, minus the alligators.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/14/2020 at 10:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Russia •  
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calendar   Saturday - June 27, 2020

With Apologies To Robert Burns

I missed my calling. My perfect dream job would be the guy who writes clever puns for newspaper headlines.


Giant Forest Fires Across Northern Siberia. Flames can be seen from over the horizon. Millions of acres consumed.

Taiga Taiga Burning Bright

Forest fires shed the night

No mortal hand set this a-ligh

Global Warming made you fry

The fires come amid a notable heat wave in parts of the sprawling region. A high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 F) was reported a week ago in the town of Verkhoyansk,. If the reading is confirmed, it would be the hottest day ever recorded in the Arctic.

According to figures reported Saturday by Avialesookhrana, Russia’s agency for aerial forest fire management, 1.15 million hectares (2.85 million acres) were burning in Siberia in areas that cannot be reached by firefighters.

The worst-hit area is the Sakha Republic, where Verkhoyansk is located, with 929,000 hectares (2.295 million acres) burning.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/27/2020 at 09:20 AM   
Filed Under: • News-BriefsRussia •  
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calendar   Friday - June 12, 2020

One Bridge To Rule Them All

4th largest seaport in Russia brought to a halt because of rail bridge collapse
Just one rail line connects Murmansk to rest of Russia

Murmansk Declares State Of Emergency

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I was going to post on this a week or so ago, but figured, eh, it’s just one little bridge. I didn’t know it was the only bridge on the only set of tracks into this Scandinavian port city. After decades of overuse - more than 1,000 boxcars a day - it gave out. Efforts to repair it failed. And now the city is on it’s knees. It wasn’t even that big a bridge, only 420 feet long, with a support pier in the middle. Glorious Soviet Project #418, lasted 90 years. Buh bye. Murmansk is on the Kola Peninsula, just east of Finland. The bridge is about 6 miles south of the city.

[ June 2 ] Russian Railways has halted passenger and cargo rail transport between the northern port of Murmansk and the rest of Russia after the collapse of the only railway bridge linking the two, the national rail company said on Tuesday.

The foundations of the bridge across the river Kola were washed away by rapidly melting snow and strong flows of water on Saturday, and the bridge gave way on Monday, the Emergencies Ministry said. No-one was hurt during the incident, officials added.

“This route is the only one, so a temporary ban has been imposed on the loading of all goods to the Murmansk transport hub after the damage to the bridge,” Russian Railways told Reuters.

The region’s governor, Andrey Chibis, said authorities aimed to link Murmansk back up to the nationwide railway network this month and that they were accelerating existing plans to build a new bridge, the TASS news agency reported.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles probes into serious crimes, said it had opened a criminal investigation into what it said was a suspected violation of transport safety. It gave no further details.

The Murmansk Commercial Seaport, which is owned by coal mining company SUEK, handled turnover of 17.6 million tonnes of coal last year. Coal is transported by rail to the port for export.

[ June 3 ] The bridge across the Kola River was built in 1930 and upgraded in 2014. This week, the aging piece of infrastructure did not withstand the quickly rising river waters and collapsed.

Engineers had discovered ruptures in one of the bridge pillars already late last week and rail transportation had been halted. But restoration works did not succeed and major parts of the bridge on Monday afternoon fell into the river.

The result is a major blow to transport connections to the far northern Russian city.

“Yes, the wagons are standing. Murmansk is closed,” a source in a local company told news agency Interfax.  The Russian Railways that operates the route has now reportedly halted all transportation to Murmansk.

The situation has created a major headache for both industry and population in the region. A major share of all goods that are transported to the Arctic city comes by rail and thousands of people use train as preferred means of transportation.

Murmansk declares State of Emergency

The state of emergency was declared on the 11th June and will last until the railway connection to the City of Murmansk is restored, regional authorities inform.

Companies in the region are now seriously feeling pain. The Murmansk Seaport, the 4th biggest in the country, normally handles about 1000 rail wagons per day, and the biggest regional companies, among them Nornickel, Eurochem and Phosagro, all depend on both shipping and rail transportation.

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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/12/2020 at 10:17 AM   
Filed Under: • BridgesRussia •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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