Without any drumming up, Germany, pioneer in Europe on the application of nuclear energy to power vessels, has let the ex Otto Hahn leave to be manually demolished in Alang bay India. She was launched in 1967 and represents the symbol of failure concerning the first wave of nuclear powered merchant ships. The Otto Hahn was reconverted into a conventional cargo vessel in 1980. The nuclear reactor of 38 MW was removed, yet it is legitimate to suspect that after having been exploited for thirteen years structural elements were exposed to uncontrolled radiation or radioactive releases. In August 1973 the vessel was the victim of a major accident when two fuel elements of the reactor broke.
Otto Hahn © Reflets de l’OMI
Decontamination of radioactive sites on land always hide unpleasant surprises concerning the diversity of radiological impacts; the dismantling of nuclear submarines brings to the surface extremely expensive and unexpected difficulties that holder countries end up leaving their ships to pile up in military ports. It was during the realisation of Robin des Bois’s trimestrial information and analysis bulletin on ship demolition – Ship-breaking.com – that Robin des Bois discovered the final destination of the Otto Hahn. Her last owner was Greek and the Otto Hahn arrived in Alang under the name Madre.
Robin des Bois is asking that Germany and the European Union pay more attention to the field of dealing with radioactive waste and that the Indian authorities and workers in Alang be informed about the potential risk of remaining contamination.
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