Norwegian Experts Detained on Russian Border Following Nuclear Safety Meeting
Two official representatives from Norway were detained on the border to Russia this week, following a meeting in the Norwegian-Russian Nuclear Safety Commission in Murmansk. The event stole parts of the attention from the annual gathering, which keeps covering nuclear waste and risky transportations.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refers to the incident as serious.
According to the Barents Observer, two representatives from the Finnmark County Councilor’s office were detained at the Borisoglebsk border crossing by border officers from the Russian FSB security services. According to the Finnmarken newspaper, the two Norwegians are involved in the County Council’s work on nuclear safety.
So far, few details about the incident are known; however, according to acting County Councilor Ingvild Aleksandersen, both Norwegians are now back home in Norway.
- May have serious consequences
At the meeting in Murmansk, old Kola reactors and further transportation of the Russian floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosiv were among the main themes.
- An accident with a floating nuclear power plant may have wide consequences for both people and the environment. Norwegian authorities will thus closely monitor the further transportation from Murmansk to Pevek, says Audun Halvorsen, State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Halvorsen led the Norwegian delegation at the annual Commission meeting, and Akademik Lomonosov is currenly located in the city where the meeting took place; in Murmansk – where the floating nuclear power plant is currently tested and loaded with reactor fuel.
The power plant was transported along the Norwegian coast from St. Petersburg to Murmansk earlier this spring and, according to the Norwegian MFA, constructive dialogue between Russian and Norwegian authorities lead to the haul taking place without nuclear fuel onboard.
The nuclear power plant is scheduled to be transported to Pevek in Russia during the summer of 2019.
Joint preparedness exercise
Both the Norwegian as well as the Russian delegation point out that the bilateral cooperation on environmental monitoring is good, in particular when it comes to joint expeditions and impact assessments of dumped materials in the Kara and Barents Seas.
Another key theme of this year’s meeting was the shipping of nuclear waste from the Andrejev Bay in Russia to the Majak facilities in southern Ural.
The first shipment of used nuclear fuel took place in the summer of 2017, with special vessels going to Majak.
The Majak facility is Russia’s main facility for recycling, processing and storing of used nuclear fuel and waste. There have previously been a series of accidents and emissions at the plant, which has led to the surrounding areas being heavily polluted.
The planned out-shipping of nuclear fuel is scheduled to go on for at least seven years and next month, a joint Norwegian-Russian preparedness exercise will take place in the Andrejev Bay.
Norwegian MFA: - We need more knowledge about the conditions
- Norwegian authorities have earlier had extensive cooperation with Russian authorities about the environmental situation at the plant. Increased transportation of used nuclear fuel to the facility has actualized the need for resuming dialogue with Russia in order for us to get more knowledge about the conditions at the plant, says MFA State Secretary Audun Halvorsen.
Security at the Kola nuclear plant was also one of the themes of discussion when the Commission met in Murmansk. The Norwegian MFA is worried about the apparent plans of prolonging the life span of two of the oldest reactors at the plant.
- The Norwegian opinion is that the oldest reactors should be shut down. We have been informed that the oldest reactor received a new 15-year license this summer, and there are also plans about a new license for the second-to-oldest reactor, which currently holds an operating license valid until 2019, Halvorsen says.
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