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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kursk Foundation Enthusiastic

A representative of an organization raising funds to lift the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk said Friday that the entire vessel should be removed from the seafloor to avoid any potential environmental threat from its two nuclear reactors and weapons.

?Nothing will be left at the bottom of the sea,? said Rio D. Praaning, the secretary-general of the international Kursk Foundation, in a telephone interview. ?We are there to assist with only one issue in mind, and that is the environment.?

The Kursk's forward section, which was destroyed by the powerful explosions that sank the submarine in the Barents Sea Aug. 12, might be cut from the rest of the ship, but then both will be lifted to the surface, he said.

Some observers have said that the mangled bow section containing the torpedo room would have to be left on the seabed. Retired Rear Admiral Valery Alexin said in an article published in the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta this week that a Russian salvage plan envisages cutting off the first compartment and sealing the second one with a cover before the Kursk is lifted.

But Praaning pointed at the potential dangers of leaving part of the submarine with weapons on the sea floor, and said he favored raising the entire ship.

?The radical solution is to leave nothing there. All the other solutions sooner or later will be incomplete,? he said.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who heads the government commission in charge of the Kursk, said Thursday that the Kursk's nuclear reactors were safely shut down and would remain safe for at least 10 years. But he said the ship should be lifted to avoid any potential danger to the rich codfish grounds in the area.

However, some Russian media have warned against the daunting project, saying that the huge vessel could break into pieces during the lifting. Some have also criticized the high cost of the salvage operation, tentatively scheduled for next summer, and questioned whether the West would be eager to share the expense. Klebanov said it would cost approximately $80 million.

But Praaning said that the West would be eager to help.

?There is an international feeling that such problems should be dealt with on an international scale,? Praaning said.

The Norwegian arm of Halliburton, a Dallas-based oil-services company that organized the recovery of the bodies of some of the Kursk's crewmen, is now taking part in a feasibility study on raising the Kursk, along with Dutch companies Smit International and Heerema and Russia's Rubin design bureau.