What will happen to the 170 decommissioned nuclear submarines? No one in Russia seems to know the answer. More than 100 of them have not had their reactor cores removed, which makes each such vessel a potential Chernobyl. There are 70 of them in the Russian North. Incidentally, decommissioned submarines are operated by undermanned crews, which in the event of an accident, will be physically unable to prevent an environmental disaster. And there is no telling how long this dangerous situation will last.
Active dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines was to have begun years ago. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, a U.S. facility was installed at the Nerpa ship-repair enterprise, 100 kilometers from Murmansk, which can substantially expedite the dismantling of nuclear submarines. For its apparent similarity to the device used for beheading people it was dubbed the "guillotine." Such installations at U.S. shipyards annually process no fewer than 10 to 15 submarines while here they can only do three to six.
The Nunn-Lugar program envisages financial and technological assistance for the dismantling of none but strategic nuclear submarines that pose a threat to U.S. security. This is the only class of vessel the Americans are paying for. Yet Russia also has nuclear-powered attack submarines, some of which are 30 years old and well past their service life. The Americans, however, are not interested in those.
The dismantling of just one Project 667B submarine (Delta-1 class) produces 2,096 tonnes of scrap steel and nonferrous metal, including 554 tonnes of stainless steel, 95 tonnes of scrap copper and 58 tonnes of scrap bronze, and 90 tonnes of titanic alloys. At the same time it also produces 830 tonnes of toxic waste which the enterprise is to store and reprocess at its own expense, without any assistance from the state. The marketing of scrap titanium, obtained from dismantling nuclear-powered submarines with titanium hulls, is unprofitable. Its market price in the West is $ 1,000 per tonne while customs duties set by the state are $ 1,900 per tonne.
Article by: Moscow News (September 29, 1999).
Full article: ManufacturingNet