10 Jul 2010 19:00

Zvezda plant to dispose of nuclear accident-damaged submarine

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia. July 10 (Interfax-AVN) - The Zvezda plant in Russia's Far East said it had undertaken to dispose of former Soviet nuclear submarine K-431, whose reactor exploded in 1985, killing 10 crewmembers and giving radiation injuries to many others.

Zvezda's press service cited the plant's general director, Andrei Rassomakhin, as saying the K-431 would be disposed of before November and that all operations to isolate the vessel would be finished before the year end.

Rassomakhin said the disposal operations would be safe for Zvezda's personnel and for the environment.

The submarine underwent a radiation examination when Zvezda was formally taking over the vessel in April.

Zvezda disposes of nuclear submarines under a January 2010 contract with state corporation Rosatom, regulator of Russia's nuclear industry.

In May and June, Zvezda carried out a set of measures to normalize the radiation level inside the K-431. A repeat examination late last month confirmed the vessel to be radiation safe.

Today the K-431 is ready to be tugged to Zvezda and is expected to be taken to the plant shortly.

The K-431, which belonged to the Project 675 class (the NATO reporting name for the class is Echo II), would be put on a pontoon and taken to an onshore shelter in Razboinik Bay.

On August 10, 1985, a departure from technical rules in lifting the lid of the submarine's reactor set off an uncontrolled chain reaction and an explosion that killed eight officers and two enlisted men on the spot.