The reactor at Obninsk, Russia, long hailed as the first nuclear installation in the world ever used to commercially produce electricity, became another historic first when Moscow decided to close it and turn it into a museum to Soviet scientific achievement in 2002. But a recent public hearing on the state of its decommissioning showed the reactor is still plagued by many of the same old Soviet-style obsessions with secrecy and Politburo-worthy bureaucratic screw ups that, try as it might, Russia’s nuclear industry can’t seem to banish to the dustbin of history. The hearing was convened early this month to review the reactor’s very long-term decommissioning strategy – a process that began with its closure, gained steam with the initial unloading of its fuel in 2008, and is expected to last until 2080. But it turned out that two things were lacking from the hearing, the absence of which meant that the discussion of this first-ever nuclear reactor decommissioning project in Russia didn’t really mean anything at all. First, it turned out that the company that owns the reactor doesn’t have a license to decommission it in the first place. Second, any discussion of how much spent fuel accumulated after the reactor went online in 1954, and the condition of the storage structures where it is being housed after its removal is, technically speaking, not for public digestion.
Bellona 12th April 2018 read more »