Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 100

A local power plant cut off electricity yesterday to a nuclear submarine base of the Northern Fleet near Murmansk, nearly triggering an accident. The base is home to decommissioned submarines with functioning nuclear reactors that are waiting to be scrapped. The vessels’ on-board generators failed to start, leaving the reactors without power for their cooling systems and at risk of suffering a meltdown. According to press accounts, the military persuaded the power company to restore supplies in time to prevent a serious accident. An environmental adviser to President Boris Yeltsin told German television on Monday that many decommissioned submarines were "floating Chernobyls" which could explode. (4)

Like other Russian military units, the Northern Fleet owes billions of rubles for electricity bills. Last week power was cut off to a strategic missile test site at Plesetsk, also in the far north.

Prior to July, regional power services were prohibited from cutting off electricity to military facilities for non-payment. But this policy was reversed this summer. And more military facilities are likely to lose electrical power in the months ahead: The 1995 budget allocates to the military 1.3 trillion rubles to pay electricity bills, but a Defense Ministry spokesman reported earlier in the week that bills amount to over 5.5 trillion.

Shumeiko Calls for Increase in Military Budget.