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Nuclear News - 03/05/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 5 March, 1999

1. Britain Assists In Russian Nuclear Cleanup, RFE/RL Newsline(03/04/99)2. Division In Ranks Of Start-II Supporters Over Nuclear Forces, RFE/RLNewsline (03/04/99)3. Russia Can't Afford Sub Maintenance, LA Times (03/04/99)4. Britain To Help Fund Russian Nuclear Cleanup, Reuters (03/04/99)


Britain Assists In Russian Nuclear Cleanup
RFE/RL Newsline
March 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, speaking in Murmansk on 3 March, announced aid worth $4.8 million to help deal with nuclear waste from the Northern Fleet's decommissioned submarines, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Most of the aid, Cook said, would be used to provide storage facilities for waste suchas spent fuel rods currently stacked on vessels in the northern port. According to Reuters, environmental activists expect the fleet to accumulate 320 discarded nuclear reactor cores (some 20 percent of the world's total) and 75,000 spent fuel rods by next year. Norway and the EU have granted almost $100 million to help deal withthe problem. Cook also said that during talks in Moscow on4 March, he will raise the issue of Northern Fleet officerAleksandr Nikitin, who has been charged with treason andespionage for informing a Norwegian environmental groupabout the extent of the nuclear waste problem in Russia'sNorth.
Division In Ranks Of Start-II Supporters Over NuclearForces
RFE/RL Newsline
March 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

LAW. First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov slammed thedraft law on financing Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forcesuntil 2010, calling its adoption "ill-advised," "Izvestiya"reported on 3 March. He also noted that the law contradictsthe already passed law on the federal budget. Duma DefenseCommittee Chairman and member of the Our Home Is Russiafaction Roman Popkovich has repeatedly said the passage ofthis law is crucial to the ratification of the START-IItreaty, of which Maslyukov is also a strong supporter.
Russia Can't Afford Sub Maintenance
LA Times
March 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW--Over 100 mothballed nuclear submarines rusting inRussia's Arctic ports threaten to leak radioactive waste because officials can't afford to unload their spent nuclear fuel quickly enough, officials acknowledged Thursday.

It was one of the clearest warnings of the danger to be issued by the Russian government. Previous warnings have come mostly from scientists and environmentalists. A retired Navy captainwas jailed for espionage after raising alarms about the problem in 1994. Some of the submarines with Russia's Northern Fleet were decommissioned 25 years ago, and have languished docksidefar longer than safety permits, said Valery Martynov, an official with the State Nuclear Oversight Committee in charge of nuclear safety in Russia's north. But the government isn't properlyequipped to remove the waste quickly enough, Martynov said, according to the Itar-Tass news agency. Continuing at the current rate, officials will need at least 12 years to unload all waste from thenuclear submarines, Martynov said. To speed up the process, officialshave turned to foreign governments for assistance.
Britain To Help Fund Russian Nuclear Cleanup
Reuters
March 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

MURMANSK, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on Wednesday saw for himself the extent of Russia's huge nuclear waste problems andannounced aid worth 3 million pounds ($4.8 million).

Cook donned protective gear to tour a civilian nuclear processing plantin Murmansk on the northwestern Kola Peninsula, home to the NorthernFleet and to one of the world's largest collections of nuclear waste.

The plants have been swamped by spent nuclear reactors and fuel rodshauled out of decommissioned submarines.

In desperation, local authorities are either dumping waste at sea orstoring it in grossly inadequate containers and ships until a long-termsolution can be found.

"This is a problem we all share and must deal with together. We are veryanxious to help," Cook told Murmansk Deputy Governor AnatolyMalinin.

Cook said most of the British aid would be spent on storage for nuclearwaste such as that on board the Lepse, a ship crammed to the deckswith almost 650 fuel rods, many damaged.

Environmental activists expect the fleet to have accumulated 320discarded nuclear reactor cores -- about 20 percent of the world's total-- as well as 75,000 spent fuel rods by next year.

They fear that unless urgent action is taken, the waste will leak intothe atmosphere and seas with catastrophic results.

"I don't want to be alarmist but of course this is a serious area ofconcern here," Cook said. "If there is (an environmental disaster) thennot just Russia will be affected."

Cook donned overalls, a hard hat, boots and a radiation monitor to toura non-functional processing plant in the city that received many Alliedconvoys in World War II.

One large floor in the plant was earmarked to reprocess radioactivewater but looked to be largely in ruins.

"We hope that in the same way we cooperated in the war we can nowwork together to conquer this enemy," Malinin said.

British officials with Geiger counters carefully monitored radiationlevels during the tour. "We're not frying, we're just simmering gently,"said one.

Western officials say Russia's desire to keep foreigners out of itsmilitary bases and a mountain of red tape are hindering efforts to dealwith the nuclear waste problem.

Cook said he would raise the case of former captain Alexander Nikitin,accused of treason after he joined the Norwegian environmental groupBellona and started revealing the extent of the nuclear waste problem.

Last month Russia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal to drop treasonand spying charges against Nikitin.



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