By Yury Kirillov Kommersant, August 9, 2001, p. 3
Despite reassurances, the Murmansk city administration does not rule out the possibility of emergency situations arising during the Kursk salvage operation
The beginning of the third phase of the Kursk operation in the Barents Sea – separation of the bow compartment from the submarine’s hull – has delayed. It was supposed that the Carrier barge would arrive to the site of the salvage operation by August 5, and the separation would start on August 10. However, barge has not left the Norwegian port of Kirkines because specialists have not finished tests of cutting equipment.
Drilling holes for hoisting equipment continues – nine of 26 holes are ready. Divers have to hurry if they want to finish the operation on time. The command of the operation and specialists from Russia, Holland, and the UK held a meeting on board the Mayo ship last Tuesday regarding how to speed up the operation. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Rubin design bureau.
In the meantime, Murmansk Governor Yury Yevdokimov has received all documents (including classified materials) regarding the security of the Kursk operation. He and Rubin’s Director Igor Spassky have reached an agreement that the military will cooperate with the Murmansk administration. Mr. Yevdokimov said: “We have discussed all ecological aspects of the operation and come to a conclusion that scientists have foreseen almost everything. As a result we have received a security passport which provides for all security measures.” Rear Admiral Mikhail Motsak, Chair of the Special Expedition, said: “The reactor is hermetic because it has four degrees of protection. We think that two security contours of the reactors are not damaged. I don’t think that the raising of the submarine will create dynamic tension capable of damaging the reactor.”
However, there is one aspect which no one denies – no one has ever conducted such an operation. This is why the command of the operation has prepared measures for possible emergency situations during the operation and in the dock. These questions are linked with unloading missiles and nuclear fuel. Valery Lishik, Chief of the Murmansk Civil Protection Department, says: “No matter what scientists may say, we must prepare measures for protecting people in possible emergency situations.” According to him, “nothing threatens people while the submarine is on the seabed”. The North Fleet and the Severomorsk Civil Protection Department are working on a plan of activities in possible emergency situations in the dock. Mr. Lishik noted: “Emission of radioactive materials is an improbable thing, but we cannot rule out this situation. The Roslyakovo plant must give us a report what territory may be contaminated by nuclear waste.”