Russian deal on nuclear accidents

Norway and Russia sign a bilateral agreement to notify one another of these

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende called the signing “an important milestone in the nuclear safety and emergency response cooperation between our countries.”

“The new procedures we are now establishing with Russia will ensure early notification in the event of a nuclear incident, which is crucial for Norway’s emergency preparedness,” he added.

Environmental organization Bellona comments that hazards include nuclear powered navigation beacons and lighthouses along Arctic coastlines.

Some 200 rusted-out Russian Northern Fleet nuclear submarines, leaky spent nuclear fuel, and radioactive waste storage facilities are also considered as being dangers. There have been several Russian shipyard blazes in recent years while submarines have been under repair.

2011 saw a serious fire occur aboard Russian Delta class nuclear submarine the Yekaterinburg while she was dry docked at a shipyard in the northwestern Russia Murmansk Region. The blaze was believed to have been in the torpedo compartment. While officials denied the vessel was loaded with nuclear weapons, two subsequent disclosures indicated otherwise.

“After the 2011 fire, Norway understood this to be an event it should have been informed about,” said Bellona executive director and nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer.

The current bilateral deal is a strengthening of one signed in 1993. This occurred at what Bellona terms “a time of utter collapse of nuclear and radiation safety in the former Soviet Union.”

According to the Norwegian Foreign Minister, the agreement will include observation of large-scale nuclear naval exercises on a regular basis. These operations, which Russia has invited Norway to observe, are scheduled to take place more often, where the new procedures will be tried out.

“The joint notification procedures confirm once again that cooperation between Norway and Russia in this field is helping to build trust and enhance security on both sides of the border,” concluded Brende.

Other bilateral deals between Norway and Russia include a 2013 agreement allowing Norwegian experts to help Russia handle radioactive waste in a safe manner.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Oct. 2, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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