Rosatom said today that the Lepse nuclear service ship had been put into dry dock at the Nerpa Shipyard on the Kola Peninsula. The process took six days.
"This was an important step in the process of decommissioning the vessel, which is one of the most hazardous sites in the region," Rosatom said.
First deputy general director and chief engineer of Atomflot, Mustafa Kashki, added, "This will not only reduce the potential environmental risks of having Lepse in the water, but also allows us to move on to further stages of the project, namely mounting defences around the ship and the subsequent unloading of [used] nuclear fuel."
Rosatom said earlier this month that dismantling of the vessel will start in December and continue throughout 2015. Unloading of used nuclear fuel from Lepse will start in 2017.
The Nerpa Shipyard applied to Russian regulator Rostechnadzor at the start of this year for a licence to start work on Lepse, which was issued on 27 June. A specially-designed shelter is to be built for storage of the ship's bow before it is transferred to Saida Bay in 2017. Used nuclear fuel on board the ship will be transported to the Mayak Chemical Combine in the Urals via the Atomflot icebreaker port in Murmansk for reprocessing. Lepse was moored at the port for 20 years until 14 September, 2012, when it was towed to the Nerpa Shipyard for decommissioning. It has awaited a dry dock ever since.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) issued in August a general procurement notice for the unloading of used nuclear fuel and the retrieval of radioactive waste from Lepse. The tender will be in two parts, with the first taking place on 29 October and the second during 2015.
The project, which the EBRD estimates will cost €50 million ($64 million), includes: development of infrastructure at the Nerpa Shipyard; construction of the containment shelter; placement of Lepse on the slipway of the shipyard and establishment of a used fuel compartment; placing that compartment within the shelter; establishing a used fuel unloading station and a station for loading used nuclear fuel into canisters.