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Nuclear Safety Cooperation

R4.01/02 Preliminary design, development and approval of the documentation for SNF/RAW removal from the FTB “Lepse” and its further decommissioning

  • Closed
Benefitting Zone
Eastern Europe / North Asia
€ 1,500,000.00
EU Contribution
Contracted in 2005
Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States


Type of activity

Waste Management



Contracting authority

European Commission

Method of Procurement

Direct Agreement & AV DA


12/12/2005 - 12/09/2007



Project / Budget year

TACIS 2002 Nuclear Safety Action Programme / 2002


The float technical base (FTB) “Lepse” is one of the most hazardous objects for the environment and population of Russia’s North-West. The ship’s spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage facilities (channels and caissons) contain 639 spent nuclear fuel assemblies (SNFA), part of which are damaged. SNFA removal from storage facilities is a complicated and radiation-hazardous operation. The removal procedure had not been developed and was not available before the commencement of this project.

Selection of an option for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning is a long-standing problem. Before 2005, over a hundred conferences on the problem were held at various levels. National and foreign industrial enterprises and research organizations were attracted to work. Within a 20-year period they elaborated several proposals on the SNF unloading and the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning.

In 2005, supported by the Murmansk Shipping Company and the European Commission, specialists started elaborating design documentation (approvable part) on the SNF unloading from the FTB “Lepse” and its decommissioning. The documentation elaborated in the framework of this project should facilitate decision-making on financing and start of the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning, including unloading of SNF and radioactive waste (RW), placement of SNF, RW and toxic waste for safe storage, cutting of the ship’s hull, and placement of large-size package-blocks for long-term storage.

A set of design and organizational documentation (SDOD) was aimed at solving the following tasks:

  • preparation of the organizational and technical flowchart for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning;
  • preparation of production facilities for decommissioning operations;
  • assurance of fire-, environmental-, nuclear-, and radiation safety, as well as of labour protection in the course of decommissioning.

To solve the above tasks, the following work was performed:

  • conceptual study of options for SNF/RW unloading from the FTB “Lepse” and further decommissioning of the ship;
  • elaboration of the conceptual design and SDOD necessary for obtaining permits for the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning from Russian supervisory authorities
  • approval of the design documentation by relevant Russian supervisory authorities and executive authorities in compliance with the current national regulations and standards.


To undertake a formal (as required by applicable laws and regulations of the Russian Federation, but also international practice) technical-economical assessment (Feasibility Study) of all available options for the SNF/RAW removal and further decommissioning of Lepse FTB, and on the basis of this assessment to select a most appropriate option. The option shall be based on the analysis of results of the previous relevant Western and Russian studies and should take into account the experience gained from decommissioning of similar floating technical bases in Russia. The cost of the project as a whole as well as each of its distinctive phases/elements shall be estimated in the Feasibility Study. The feasibility study shall be submitted to the EC-organized Expert panel for review and assessment.

This option shall be the best one with regard to the "cost-benefit" criteria, technically closed to similar projects being implemented elsewhere, and in line with Russian legal requirements and current international practices for similar activities.

For the selected option, a complete set of documents that are legally required by Russian regulatory authorities to authorize the decommissioning of Lepse as well as a full set of project implementation documents that would be needed by the organization(s) implementing the project shall be developed. The contents of the required documentation package are specified in the applicable legislation of the Russian Federation, and will be precised by the End user in the course of the project. The final content of the documentation package shall be agreed between the Beneficiary/End User and relevant Russian authorities within the preparatory phase of this project. The set of regulatory submittals as well as the project implementation documents study shall be submitted to the EC-organized Expert panel for review and assessment.

The developed project documentation shall be subject to the appropriate regulatory approval process in accordance with the relevant Russian regulations and rules. The end user shall review and approve the project implementation documents. The results of the reviews shall be submitted to the EC-organized Donors Expert panel for review and assessment.


The work was organized in tasks, as described below:

The initial task consisted of the preliminary work, negotiations with contractors, signature of contracts, preparation of he work plan and schedule, drafting of the organizational aspects of the project, selection of the codes and standards that would rule the project, quality programme, and the preparation of the Inception Report. During this initial period, the Terms of Reference “Study of options for SNF unloading from the FTB “Lepse” and its further decommissioning”, were also drafted.

The feasibility (conceptual) study (Task 2) started when the initial period was completed; the study was carried out in compliance with the above mentioned. Some works, e.g. the review of previous investigations of the FTB “Lepse” and the analysis of developed documentation on the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning, were started in the initial period.

The conceptual study resulted in the “Decision on options for the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning, as well as for unloading and handling of SNF”. This decision was coordinated with all executive agencies, as well as with Rostechnadzor and Administration of the Murmansk Region, and approved by the top management of Mosmorrechflot, Rosatom, and Rosprom.

The organizational and engineering flowchart approved by the project participants includes:

  • cleaning and decontamination of storage premises, repair or replacement of the adjusting & guiding device (AGD) drives to be performed by the Murmansk Shipping Company at FSUE "Atomflot";
  • transportation of the FTB “Lepse” to Shipyard “Nerpa”;
  • installation of the FTB “Lepse” on the stocks, formation of SNF storage block with the containers loading post in the engine-and-boiler room, construction of a special shielding shelter for SNF unloading, formation of the stern package block for storage of solid radwaste;
  • placement of the above stern package block on the storage site for single-compartment blocks of submarines being decommissioned;
  • unloading of SNF, including fragments (in case if fragments cannot be unloaded, their grouting in a caisson is recommended);
  • loading of unloaded SNF into transport containers TUK-18 or TUK-120;
  • transfer of containers TUK-18 or TUK-120 to quay N-1 by trailer;
  • reloading of containers TUK-18 or TUK-120 on the FTB “Lotta”;
  • transportation of containers TUK-18 or TUK-120 to FSUE “Atomflot”, interim storage of containers with processable SNF and their delivery to PO “Mayak”; placement of containers with non-processable SNF for long-term storage;
  • management of RW;
  • formation of package blocks for storage of solid radioactive waste;
  • transportation of the formed storage blocks to the “Saida” facility for long-term storage.

The results achieved during elaboration and analysis of the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning options were presented in the following documents:

  1. Comprehensive radiation survey of the FTB “Lepse”. Report by the Murmansk Shipping Company, 2006.
  2. Complex decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”. Comprehensive radiation survey. Maps of radiation environment. Album. YaNMI.U325.360210.003D, FSUE “Onega”, 2006
  3. Review of previous investigations of the FTB “Lepse” and analysis of the developed documentation. Report. YaNMI.U325.0415.00.003, FSUE “Onega”, 2006.
  4. Comparative analysis of SNF handling in the FTB “Lepse” storage facility, and selection of an optimal method for SNF unloading from the storage and from caissons. Report on the conceptual research, FSUE OKBM, 2006.
  5. Analysis and selection of options for SNF unloading from the storage and from caissons, and for further handling of the FTB “Lepse”. Report on stage 1 of contract 7/8683, No. 0977/29-2006, FSUE VNIPIET, 2006
  6. Collection and generalization of data on SRW (solid radioactive waste) on the FTB “Lepse”. 8683-FTB “Lepse”. SDOD on SRW, Inv. No. 06-00027, FSUE VNIPIET, 2006.
  7. Preliminary analysis of radiation impact on the environment while unloading SNF from the FTB “Lepse”. Report on� stage 1 of contract 7/8683, No. 0977/28-2006.
  8. Study of options for design of the FTB “Lepse” storage block. Report YaNMI.U325.0415.00.002, FSUE “Onega”, 2006.
  9. Report on R&D work entitled: “Complex study of options for unloading of SNF and decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”. YaNMI.U325.0415.00.004, FSUE “Onega”, 2006.
  10. Complex decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”. Decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse” by the selected contracting organizations. Program YaNMI.U325.0321.00.001.

Task 3 consisted on the elaboration of design and organizational documentation.

Upon approval of the “Decision on selection of the option for the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning, as well as for unloading and handling of SNF”, specialists prepared the Terms of Reference “Development of a set of design and organizational documents – SDOD – on complex decommissioning”. These Terms of Reference specified the scope of work for development of SDOD (composition of the SDOD and of the preliminary design) on the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning and distribution of work among contractors. After the Terms of Reference had been concurred with the Murmansk Shipping Company and had been approved at Mosmorrechflot, Rosatom and Rosprom, specialists started developing the SDOD and the conceptual design for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning.

The SDOD provided for the technical and legal bases for continuation of complex decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”, namely: elaboration of design and technical documents, manufacture of the required process equipment, handling of SNF, liquid- and solid radioactive waste stored on the FTB “Lepse”, and complete decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”.

The documentation has been elaborated in the scope necessary for its coordination and approval by Russian supervisory and regulatory authorities.

The main tasks solved while elaborating the SDOD are as follows:

  1. Selection of a flowchart for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning at Shipyard “Nerpa”.
  2. Determination of the scope of work and the sequence of operations to be performed in the course of the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning.
  3. Elaboration of procedures related to arrangement and process aspects of the SNF unloading and the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning, including as follows:
    • (a) preparation of the FTB “Lepse” for SNF unloading;
    • (b) unloading of SNF, handling of SNF packages;
    • (c) preparation of the FTB “Lepse” for decommissioning and transfer to Shipyard “Nerpa”;
    • (d) cutting and formation of the SNF storage package-block of the FTB “Lepse”;
    • (e) dismounting of equipment and handling of the FTB “Lepse” blocks after the cutting of package-blocks;
    • (f) management of RW;
    • (g) requirements for ensuring survivability of the FTB “Lepse” during its transportation to Shipyard “Nerpa” and in the course of decommissioning operations;
    • (h) requirements for ensuring nuclear & radiation safety, labour protection, fire safety, and environmental protection.

As a result, 76 documents required for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning were drafted on:

  • SNF unloading from the FTB “Lepse” (12 documents)
  • Cutting and formation of the package-blocks for storage (16 documents)
  • Management of the radioactive waste (8 documents)
  • Management of the industrial waste (2 documents)
  • Safety assessment (6 documents)
  • Environmental impact assessment (19 documents)
  • General documents related to the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning (13 documents)

Task 4 consisted of submitting the developed documents to the corresponding organizations that were to perform the state expert examination and their approval. The organizations were:

  • Federal Medico-Biological Agency (FMBA);
  • Federal Agency of Water Resources (Rosvodoresursy);
  • Commission for Expert Examination of Projects, RF Ministry for Emergencies (MChS);
  • Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Supervision;
  • Federal Agency of Atomic Energy;
  • Fire-Fighting Department at the RF Ministry for Emergencies.

Expert examination conducted at the Federal Medico-Biological Agency (FMBA)

The FMBA nominated the Research Institute of Industrial Maritime Medicine (NII PMM) as an authorized organization to perform an expert examination of the SDOD. Upon consideration of the SDOD materials, the NII PMM drew a conclusion, on “the compliance of the developed project with the state sanitary-epidemiological regulations and standards”. Based on the above expert conclusion, the FMBA issued a sanitary-epidemiological conclusion on the conformity of the project documentation requirements to the state sanitary-epidemiological regulations and standards.

Expert examination conducted at the Federal Agency of Water Resources (Rosvodoresursy)

Rosvodoresursy nominated Akvainfoteka as an authorized organization to perform an expert examination of the SDOD. Upon consideration of the SDOD materials, Rosvodoresursy draw a conclusion stating that “the accepted technical solutions enable to minimize the impact on water objects in the process of preparation to and implementation of the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning and comply with the requirements of the current legislation of the Russian Federation in the area of use and protection of water resources, which enables to approve the mentioned materials”.

Expert examination conducted at the RF Ministry for Emergencies (MChS)

Having considered the SDOD materials, the MChS’s Expert Commission issued the conclusion: “The Project solutions aimed at assurance of accident-free operation of the facility, prevention of emergencies and liquidation of their consequences can be recognized, on the whole, as correct, and it is recommended to approve the Project “Complex Decommissioning of the FTB ‘Lepse” as concerns the adherence to the requirements of the current standards and rules in the area of civil defence and protection of territories from man-caused and natural emergencies”.

Expert examination conducted by the Federal Agency of Atomic Energy (Rosatom)

Rosatom nominated the State Research Center – A. Leipunsky Institute of Physics & Power Engineering as an authorized organization to perform an expert examination of the SDOD. The expert conclusion made at the above Institute states as follows: “The design and organizational documentation relating to the problem of the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning includes a substantiated complex of measures providing for nuclear safety in line with the current standard documentation”. This conclusion was approved by the Head of Rosatom’s Department of Nuclear & Radiation Safety.

Expert examination conducted by the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Supervision (Rostechnadzor)

The SDOD was examined at the Rostechnadzor’s Department for Regulation of Safety of Research Nuclear Installations, Nuclear Power Installations of Ships and Radiation-Hazardous Facilities. “By the results of review of the submitted documents, the Department approves the set of design and organizational documentation on the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning”.
Expert examination conducted by the MChS’s Fire-Fighting Department
“The special technical conditions of fire safety during the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning were developed by the MChS-controlled VNIIPO (Research Institute of Fire Defence), approved by the Head of VNIIPO, and coordinated with the MChS’s Fire-Fighting Department”

State Environmental Expert Examination

In accordance with Federal Law No. 174-FZ of 23.11.1995 “On Environmental Expert Examination” (the wording of Federal Law No. 232-FZ “On introduction of changes into the Town-Planning Code of the Russian Federation and into some Russian legislative acts”), starting from January 01, 2007, the materials relating to decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse” are not recognized as objects for mandatory environmental examination at the federal and regional levels

Public hearings (public examination) of the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning project

The public hearings of 26 February 2007 in the town of Snezhnogorsk were conducted in line with the Federal laws “On Environmental Protection” (No. 7-FZ of 10.01.2002) and “On Environmental Expert Examination” (No. 174-FZ of 23.11.1995) assuring the right of the public to participate in decision-making on the proposed decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse”.

The public hearings were arranged by ANO “Aspect-Conversion” with the participation of Shipyard "Nerpa" and Murmansk regional public organization “Bellona-Murmansk” and coordinated with the Government of Murmansk Region and the Administration of Snezhnogorsk. Residents, representatives of research and environmental organizations, and executive officials also attended the public hearings.

The participants in the public hearings made a decision to approve, in general, the intentions to implement the project “Complex Decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse” at Shipyard “Nerpa”.

Project approval

After per the results of the project concurrence and expert examination, the set of design and organizational documentation on the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning was approved on 25 July 2007 by the Resolution of the Deputy Heads of Rosmorrechflot, Rosatom and Rosprom, approved by the Governor of Murmansk Region and recommended for use as basis for the industrial stage of the FTB “Lepse” complex decommissioning.

Major technical solutions proposed.

As one of the main outcomes of the project, a short description of the major technical solutions to unload the SNF and decommissioning of the FTB Lepse is presented below:

  • Solutions on SNF unloading from the storage facility and from caissons of the FTB “Lepse”

SNFA (spent nuclear fuel assemblies) kept in the FTB “Lepse” storage facility and in caissons can be divided into three types:

Type 1: SNFA retrievable by the standard method,

Type 2: SNFA not extractable by the standard method,

Type 3: SNFA located in caissons.

SNFA of type 1 are pulled out from the storage channel with the use of the reloading container and are kept for a certain period to ensure water draining. Then the sliding shutter of the container is closed, and SNFA are transferred by a bridge crane to the post for loading thin-wall cans. Thereafter, the thin-wall can loaded with SNFA is transferred by the crane to the canisters loading post where the cans are loaded into canisters. The loaded canisters, with the use of the base container KB-650B, are put into transport container (shipping container) TK-18 for further transportation to PO “Mayak” for fuel reprocessing.

Type 2 SNFA are unloaded along with storage channels that should be cut off from the upper plate of the storage facility by a special device. A channel with SNFA is pulled out with the help of a reloading container. After a certain period of time necessary for water draining, the channel with SNFA is sent to the canisters loading post with the aid of the bridge crane, where it is loaded in a canister. The loaded canisters are placed into protective transport containers for further transfer to the annex of building 5 in the territory of FSUE “Atomflot” for long-term controlled storage.

Type 3 SNFA are loaded into a thin-wall can at the loading post with the help of manipulators. Further handling operations are similar to those for type 1.

  • Solutions on cutting and formation of storage blocks

Cutting and formation of storage blocks should pass three stages:

Stage 1 – Afloat dismantling of the equipment and superstructure;

Stage 2 – Cutting of the bow and stern blocks;

Stage 3 –Formation of the bow and stern blocks for long-term storage at the “Saida” facility.

During placement of the ship on the stocks, bottom sections should be installed for the “Lepse” storage blocks and tanks with low level radioactive waste (LRW). After cutting of blocks, these sections should be used for mounting side- and butt-end sections of packages. Large-size waste packages should incorporate contaminated bow and stern parts of the ship, followed by placement of these packages at the “Saida” facility for long-term storage.

Storage packages make up a parallelepiped consisting of the bottom part, modules forming the walls, and the upper part for closing the package. SNF packages estimated size is 35 x 19 x 15 m3 and weights 2995 t. Tank packages estimated size is 23 x 19 x 15 m3 and weights 1946 t.

The storage package sections design provides biological shielding and withstands a load from the technological shelter, as well as other loads envisaged by the project. The package design allows enlarging both the size of package and the thickness of the biological shielding (if needed).

To prevent the release of radioactivity outside the ship during its decommissioning and long-term storage, use could be made of an epoxide compound and a fine concrete mixture with carbon filling for concreting radiation-hazardous objects. This mixture provides high radiation stability at high doses, while its leachability is better as compared with concrete used for shielding purposes. Its application for the above purpose has been agreed with the regulatory bodies in charge of nuclear safety and environment protection.

The storage packages will be outfitted with a system of entrance control and a radiation protection control system.

  • Solutions on management of solid radioactive waste

The processing of SNF is proposed in three stages:

Stage I. Management of solid radioactive waste during removal of radiation impurities, decontamination of the “Lepse” storage facility and restoration of operability of storage devices and mechanisms at FSUE “Atomflot”. Stage I consisted in the following main activities: establishing the infrastructure required, removal and conditioning of the solid radioactive waste (SRW), temporary storage of the containers on the stern deck of Lepse, and transportation of the FTB Lepse (including the containers) to Shipyard “Nerpa”.

Stage II. Management of SRW on the stocks of Shipyard “Nerpa, in which the SRW containers are removed from the Lepse deck, documented storage of the SRW, both the existing and the generated as a consequence of unloading the SNF.

Stage III. Management of SRW generated while forming two large-size packages to incorporate contaminated hull structures of the “Lepse” (bow and stern parts). This stage should include radiation surveys, establishing of the needed infrastructure for SRW handling, and the handling and documentation of the SRW itself.

The estimated amounts of solid radioactive waste to be processed and stored are:

At Stage I, the total amount of SRW would be ~ 580 m3 (low level waste ~201 m3, intermediate level waste ~ 372 m3, high level waste ~ 2 m3);

At Stage II, the total amount of SRW would be ~ 205 m3 (low level waste ~ 92 m3, medium level waste ~ 39 m3, high level waste ~ 74 m3);

At Stage III, the total amount of SRW would be ~ 287 m3 (low level waste ~47 m3, medium level waste ~ 240 m3, high level waste ~ 0 m3).

  • Solutions on management of liquid radioactive waste (LRW)

LRW proposed treatment consists of a two-stage sorption process with the successive use of zeolite and ferrocyanide filters. The necessity of dividing the process into two stages is caused by the presence of suspended and colloidal particles in liquids.

The first-stage filter intended for removal of radionuclides through sorption will also act as a mechanical filter. The second-stage filter based on ferrocyanides should be primarily used for removal of Cs-137. LRW treated in this way should be referred to the low level waste, and will be transferred to the FSUE “Atomflot” for further processing. As regards the filters with sorbents, they should be classified as high-level solid waste.

Assessment of nuclear & radiation safety and of environmental impact

The results of the nuclear and radiation safety assessment have shown that neither SNFA storage, nor any technological operation relating to SNFA unloading, nor any possible accidental conditions could be a potential source of a nuclear accident or nuclear-hazard on the FTB “Lepse”.

With regard to the environmental impact for Shipyard “Nerpa”, a thorough study yield that the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning at Shipyard “Nerpa” should not generate new production waste, nor unacceptable emissions to the environment, and it should not cause additional negative impacts to the environment, considering both normal and accidental conditions.

The review of normative and technical documents has confirmed that the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning would not deteriorate environmental, sanitary, and epidemiological conditions in the area chosen for this purpose.

Stages and costs of the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning project

For the cost evaluation of the Lepse decommissioning projects, 18 planned actions with a total of 76 subactions were identified with a total cost of 1 406 700 thousands rubles (prices as of October 01, 2006), not including the purchase of TUK-120 containers for long-term storage of part of non-processable defective SNF.

Recommendations on arrangement of the industrial project of SNF/RW unloading and the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning

Arrangement of the work within complex decommissioning of the FTB “Lepse” is a difficult task due to the following factors:

  • High technological intricacy and radiation hazard of the work (lack of analogs);
  • Long period – over four years – and rather high cost of work;
  • A great number of organizations taking part in the documentation development and in the project implementation;
  • Diversity of different stages of this complex work (elaboration of design, process and operational documentation, manufacture of non-standard equipment, reconstruction of the Shipyard “Nerpa” infrastructure, management of SNF (damaged SNF inclusive) and RW, training and certification of the personnel, complicated navigation operations with the FTB “Lepse”, possible construction and mounting operations at FSUE “Atomflot”, etc.).

For the reduction of the great number of work stages, it is suggested that all operations should be grouped with due account of the following factors:

  • Sequence of operations coordinated within a single flow chart;
  • Feasibility of the complex work implementation by one enterprise;
  • Similarity of operations;
  • Duration and complexity of operations.

As a result, a list of 9 independent sub_projects is proposed.
Additionally, the contractor recommends to develop around 130 documents classified in 18 activities and around 80 subactivities, as well as list of equipment to be purchased (transport casks, manipulators, cutting devices, warehouses, etc).


  • the elaborated process flowchart for the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning is practicable from both technical and managerial points of view;
  • spent nuclear fuel will be removed from the FTB “Lepse” storage facilities: part of fuel should be sent for processing while the other, non-processable part should be sent for controlled long-term storage;
  • the “Lepse” ship would be partially processed into scrap metal while the bow and stern parts referred to RW should be placed in two metal-concrete package-blocks and dispatched to the “Saida” facility for long-term storage.

The elaborated design and organizational documentation (SDOD) has passed all necessary expert examinations and has been approved by Russian regulatory agencies in compliance with national rules, which should allow starting the FTB “Lepse” decommissioning without any delay.

This documentation contains the necessary initial requirements that should facilitate preparation of tenders for priority operations, including elaboration of working documents and improvement of radiation environment at the SNF storage facility.

The proposed time schedule would allow to finish the above operations in two years, so that the FTB “Lepse” could be transferred from FSUE “Atomflot” to Shipyard “Nerpa” until expiration of the validity of the permit by Russian Maritime Register on maintaining the FTB “Lepse” afloat.