Nuclear Waste Ship Patched-Up In Nick Of TimeS

When a Norwegian environmental group heard a nuclear waste ship was transporting spent nuclear fuel off the country's coast they complained an accident, if it occurred, would have "dramatic consequences." A week later the ship started sinking.

The 1994-built, Danish-flagged Puma had a cargo of spent highly enriched uranium when the Norwegian Naturvernforbundet organization caught wind of the trip. One the organization's leaders told Barents Observer:

"If there is an accident with a nuclear transport in Norwegian waters, it could have dramatic consequences for people and nature along the coast. The only way to avoid such an accident is to prevent such shipments in the future"

About a week after that quote was given a valve in the engine room broke, sending cold sea water into the ship's engine room. Crews were dispatched with gigantic electro-magnetic seals to plug the hole before the vessel fell into the frigid ocean waters. The Puma was eventually drained and righted then moved to a port for permanent repair.

Even more good luck, the accident happened on the way back. Otherwise a ship known to be carrying nuclear waste would be stuck and vulnerable to sipping its cargo or being attacked — the route is chosen because the fuel's less likely to fall in the hands of terrorists on its trip to a facility in Murmansk Russia than if it took the more direct route through the Baltic Sea.

[Maritime Propulsion, Naturvernvorbundet]