Fieldwork in Saint Petersburg and Sosnovyj Bor, Russia

12-20 May, 2019 Tatiana Kasperski and Andrei Stsiapanau visited Saint Petersburg and Sosnovyj Bor where they met with nuclear officials, NGO representatives and scientists from the Institute of Earth Sciences to discuss the preparation for the decommissioning of the first unit of the Leningrad nuclear power plant and related waste management problems. This is the first time when a RBMK (also known as channel-graphite or a Chernobyl-type) reactor will be decommissioned in Russia. Ten more such reactors are currently operated in the country, including units 2, 3 and 4 of the Leningrad nuclear power plant. The Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom announced it chose an “immediate dismantling” strategy for the unit that means the dismantling process is projected to start soon after the shutdown, but will still last several decades. Apart from safe disposal of the spent nuclear fuel that is unlikely to be reprocessed, the biggest and yet unsolved issue for the decommissioning of this type of reactor is how to dispose safely of the irradiated graphite. But these issues related to decommissioning are not only technical, but also social, political, economical. Many of these aspects so far have not been addressed and there is an important lack of public involvement in the matter.


The atom is highly visible in the atomic city of Sosnovyj Bor, Russia.