Spent Nuclear Fuel Removed From Abandoned Soviet-Era Ship in ‘Major Milestone’

An international cleanup effort has helped remove spent nuclear fuel from a service ship abandoned after an accident in northwestern Russia, the Norwegian environmental organization Bellona announced Wednesday.

The Lepse served the Soviet Union’s nuclear icebreaker fleet from 1934 until the 1980s, when it encountered rough seas and spilled highly radioactive waste inside its cargo hold. Decommissioning of the ship began in 2012.

The nuclear fuel posed “a serious danger to the people and the environment of the Barents Sea region,” said the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which funds the effort.

The Lepse held 639 damaged and distorted spent nuclear fuel assemblies when it was taken out of service.

Bellona and the EBRD’s Northern Dimension Environment Partnership (NDEP) fund hailed the removal of spent fuel from the Lepse last month as a critical milestone in dismantling the decommissioned vessel.

“The successful final shipment of fuel is the culmination of over a decade of international collaboration to address the legacy of the Lepse,” EBRD’s director for nuclear safety Balthasar Lindauer said in a July 22 statement.

“This has been a technically complex and challenging task given the uncertainties associated with both the conditions of the old storage facility and spent nuclear fuel,” Lindauer said.

The EBRD said the spent fuels will be transferred to the Mayak nuclear facility in the Chelyabinsk region 3,500 kilometers to the southeast of the Arctic city of Murmansk.

The EBRD’s NDEP manages six other nuclear decommissioning funds, including the Chernobyl Shelter Fund.

The fund draws contributions from the European Union, Britain and Canada, as well as Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

Hobby Lobby faces renewed calls for boycott following display seemingly endorsing Trump

Hobby Lobby is facing renewed backlash for its long history of controversies following a display that appeared to endorse Donald Trump in the 2020 election in one of its stores.

The image, originally posted on Twitter on Sunday, caused a stir on the platform, leading to fresh debate about the morality of the crafting company.

In the photo, which user Kari Brekke claimed was taken in a Hobby Lobby store, three shelves of letters spell out “USA VOTE TRUMP”.

The photo has not yet been verified, and it is not clear if this was an intentional display auhtorised by the store. Hobby Lobby did not immediately reply to The independent’s request for comment.

However, the image quickly went viral with over 34,000 likes and 13,200 retweets as of Monday, and resurfaced calls for boycotts of the store.

Some argued that the reactions to the display distracted from the more serious decisions of the company.

“We’re all aware that customers re-arrange these letters all the time, right?”, author and YouTuber Hank Green wrote on Twitter.

“Call my old fashioned, but I prefer to be outraged at Hobby Lobby for making it so that employers can decide what kind of healthcare their employees can get.”

The dig referred to a supreme court ruling in 2014 that the Christianchristian company should not be forced to provide employee health care coverage for contraceptives on the basis of religious beliefs.

The craft company also incited controversy in 2017 after it was fined $3m for smuggling thousands of deliberately mislabeled Iraqi artifacts out of the Middle East to be sold in the US, violating a 2004 law banning the import of Iraqi cultural property into the country.

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