Workers are about to complete the handling infrastructure for partly damaged spent nuclear fuel at Russia’s Andreeva Bay.
Some 22,000 spent nuclear fuel elements are stored in three old, run-down concrete tanks close to the shore of fjord Litsa fjord. Photo: Aleksandr Emelianenko
Thomas Nilsen, Independent Barent's Observer, 26 October 2016
About 22,000 spent nuclear fuel elements from operation of Soviet’s fleet of submarines are stored in three dilapidated concrete tanks a few hundred metres from shore on Russia’s Barents Sea coast. That is equal to around 100 reactor cores.
No other places in the world are so huge amount of highly radioactive uranium fuel stored under such bad conditions.
Removing the waste-elements is considered to be the most risky nuclear-safety operation ever to happen in the Russian north.
I once met a bear while hiking in the Rocky Mountains. A big bear, who squinted at me and sniffed the air. When I backed away, he followed me, muscles rippling beneath a grizzled hump.
With no trees to climb, I began to talk. “Good morning, Mr. Bear,” I said, and asked about his health. I commented on the weather, told him of my plans and, after a minute of idle chatter, he shrugged and wandered off the path.
I was reminded of this encounter when, last month, Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion announced a shift in foreign policy. From now on, Canada will seek to actively co-operate with Russia in the Arctic.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna needs to engage personally
This illustration, from the website of the Canadian Space Agency, shows the kind of weather forecasting that the Polar Communication and Weather mission project could have provided through two new satellites that would orbit the earth around the circumpolar north. But now that Environment Canada has withdrawn from the project, it seems likely that the new satellites will be used for military purposes only, and with no guaranteed bandwidth for northern telecommunication customers. (CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY IMAGE)
Michael Byers, Special to Nunatsiaq News, 18 July 2016
On Oct. 6, 2011, the Arctic was cut off from the rest of Canada for 16 hours.
A software glitch on a satellite caused 56 communities to lose internet and long-distance telephone service. Businesses and government offices shut down; dozens of flights were cancelled.
The outage was not a surprise. Arctic communications are currently provided from satellites in geostationary orbit, directly above the equator — at the limits, and sometimes beyond, the required direct line of sight. Connectivity is slow, expensive and unreliable.
The Harper government responded to the outage by supporting a bold and visionary plan that the Canadian Space Agency, Environment Canada and Department of National Defence had jointly developed.
“I need to use the drones … to go on long patrols and be our eyes in the sky in the Arctic.”
So said the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant General Yvan Blondin, in testimony before the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
Blondin went on to explain that he wanted a drone “that is flexible, that … when we go to Afghanistan, allows me [to] carry some weapons on it.”
Now here’s the thing. That latter statement, about the desire for drones that can carry weapons, was much more forthright than the asserted need for Arctic drones. Canada, in fact, already has reliable Arctic surveillance capabilities in place.
The country’s military is having trouble coming up with enough money to buy new rifles to replace the 60-year-old guns used in the Arctic by the Canadian Rangers.
Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlighted the work performed by the Rangers when he joined them in Nunavut in August for target practice with their aging Lee Enfield rifles, even that high level of interest is not enough to move the $10-million replacement project quickly forward, say military sources.
Some 5,000, mostly aboriginal reservists keep watch over Canada's Arctic
Sean Davidson, CBC News, 7 September 2013
Imagine maintaining a military presence over roughly four million square kilometres of exceedingly harsh terrain using the residents of just one small town — a place like Smithers, B.C., for instance, which boasts a little more than 5,000 people.
That's the tricky thing about keeping "boots on the ground" in Canada's Arctic, where the Canadian Rangers have, since 1947, been patrolling the front lines.
MURMANSK, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - A naval task force from Russia’s Northern Fleet is heading to the eastern Arctic, a spokesperson for the fleet said Tuesday.
The voyage is part of the Defense Ministry’s program under Russia’s Arctic policy and is designed “to uphold Russia’s status as a leading arctic power, strengthen its security... and ensure national interests,” the spokesperson said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting the Arctic this week, reaffirming his “resolute commitment” to defending our sovereignty. But after seven years in government, that commitment is looking thinner than a T-shirt in an ice storm.