Soviet Nuclear Submarine Training Center

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Summary

In the 1960s Paldiski became a Soviet Navy nuclear submarine training centre.

Two large submarine mock-ups with nuclear reactors were installed in a big building. It was the largest such facility in the whole Soviet Union.[13]

For study purposes, two nuclear reactors were also activated.[14]

In 1989 both reactors were shut down. Training in the study centre continued till 1993, but without the actual experience of how to work with the reactor.[15]

In 1994 nuclear fuel was removed from the reactors and they were covered by concrete sarcophagi.

During the Soviet time and until 1994 Paldiski was a closed military town, with 16,000 military employees.

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Background Information

Paldiski became a Soviet territory already in 1939. It was the first Estonian area to be occupied by Soviet troops.[16]

In the 1960s, a military training centre of nuclear submarine crews was established in Paldiski. The facility included two scaled submarine mock-ups, one Delta and one Echo class, built on dry-land, each containing an operational nuclear reactor (Sinisoo 1995). Beside the reactor compartments, the main Technological Building contained a spent fuel storage pool and some associated rooms, all were radiologically contaminated.[17]

The area under the training centre was approximately 22 hectares. Both training submarines were housed within a single building in a common high bay area. The auxiliary site facilities included a liquid waste processing facility, storage buildings for solid and liquid radioactive waste, a central facility ventilation centre, cooling towers, a cooling water pump facility, a central heating plant, a radioactive laundry facility and a radiochemical laboratory.[18]

Waste produced at the facility was stored in two places: on the site (liquid waste only) and in Tammiku radioactive waste depository (solid and liquid waste) near Saku, 12 km South of Tallinn.[19]

Paldiski Nuclear Submarine Training Center was the largest such facility in the whole Soviet Union.[20] Locals called it „the Soviet Pentagon“.

Because of the training centre Paldiski and the town's surroundings became a closed garrison area with barbed wire around it where ordinary civilians were forbidden to enter. On its heyday Paldiski had 16,000 military employees.[21]

In 1989 both reactors were shut down. Training in the study centre continued till 1993, but without the actual experience of how to work with the reactor.[22]

Paldiski remained a closed town until the Russian army, the successor of the Soviet army, left Estonia on August 31, 1994. A few hundred men remained, to dismantle the Paldiski nuclear reactor, leaving in October 1995.[23]

The Army removed all non-polluted and secret equipment, including the submarine hulls, and defueled the reactors. All fuel was transported to Russia in October 1994.[24] The reactors were encapsulated in concrete sarcophagi. Russia handed over the responsibility for Paldiski to Estonia in September 1995.

Russians did not clean up the area and had left active waste at the site. So when Estonia took over the facility they had two main tasks:

  • To clean up the whole area and buildings for radioactive and other kinds of pollution and
  • To build new and safer sarcophagi around the nuclear reactors and renew the old building.[25]

A.L.A.R.A. Ltd., a state-owned company involved in nuclear radioactive waste management and pollution cleaning, has the task of keeping the sarcophagi safe for 50 years. Then they will be decommissioned.

Today most of training centre buildings are abandoned and ruined.[26] Because of its past Paldiski attracts tourists who are willing to see the ruins of former military facilities. Paldiski is sometimes named "a ghost town" due to many untenanted buildings: the population now is 1/4 of what the town had on its heyday. Paldiski is also known because of the Swedish film Lilya 4-ever, which was largely filmed there although the name of the location does not not appear in the film.

References

  1. Enn Realo, PhD, "PRACTICES AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY IN ESTONIA." Visit of IAEA experts, Tartu-Tallinn, 8-12 Oct 2012
  2. Enn Realo, PhD, "PRACTICES AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY IN ESTONIA." Visit of IAEA experts, Tartu-Tallinn, 8-12 Oct 2012
  3. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  4. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  5. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  6. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  7. Enn Realo, PhD, "PRACTICES AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY IN ESTONIA." Visit of IAEA experts, Tartu-Tallinn, 8-12 Oct 2012
  8. Enn Realo, PhD, "PRACTICES AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY IN ESTONIA." Visit of IAEA experts, Tartu-Tallinn, 8-12 Oct 2012
  9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paldiski as of April 26, 2013
  10. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  11. http://www.keskkonnaamet.ee/public/kiirgus/3rd_JCReport_Estonia.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  12. Enn Realo, PhD, "PRACTICES AND ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY IN ESTONIA." Visit of IAEA experts, Tartu-Tallinn, 8-12 Oct 2012
  13. http://coldwarsites.net/country/estonia/soviet-nuclear-submarine-training-center-paldiski as of April 26, 2013
  14. http://www.estonica.org/en/Paldiski_-_Soviet_army_garrison_town/ as of April 26, 2013
  15. http://www.envir.ee/1152553 as of April 26, 2013
  16. http://www.aviastar.org/travel/gallery.php?dir=eesti/paldiski as of April 26, 2013
  17. http://www.geo.lt/geo/uploads/media/71-78.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  18. http://www.geo.lt/geo/uploads/media/71-78.pdf as of April 26, 2013
  19. http://www1.american.edu/ted/estonia.htm as of April 27, 2013
  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paldiski as of April 26, 2013
  21. http://www.estonica.org/en/Paldiski_-_Soviet_army_garrison_town/ as of April 26, 2013
  22. http://www.envir.ee/1152553 as of April 26, 2013
  23. http://www.estonica.org/en/Legacy_of_the_Soviet_army_in_Estonia/ as of April 26, 2013
  24. http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/CEG/documents/ws052004_Nirvin.pdf as of April 27, 2013
  25. http://coldwarsites.net/country/estonia/soviet-nuclear-submarine-training-center-paldiski as of April 26, 2013
  26. http://www.spottinghistory.com/view/489/soviet-submarine-training-centre/ as of April 26, 2013

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