Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Google www PGS
Nuclear News - 10/01/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 01 October 1999

A.  U.S.  – Russia General

  1. US Energy Secretary Satisfied with Cooperation with Russia,Itar Tass (09/29/99)
  2. U.S. Energy Secretary Inspects Nuclear Safety In Russia,Bellona (09/29/99)
  3. Russia, US to Sign Agreement on Utilization of Plutonium,Itar Tass (09/30/99)
  4. Russia Asks U.S. to Expand Joint Efforts to Safeguard NuclearFuel, New York Times (09/30/99)
  5. Russia Seeks U.S. Help In Improving Nuclear Safeguards,Agence France Presse (10/01/99)
B.  Russian Nuclear Forces
  1. Russian General Gives Nuclear Arsenal Eight Years,Reuters(09/28/99)
  2. Russia Test-Launches Sub-Based Nuclear Missile, Reuters(10/01/99)
C.  Nuclear Power Industry
  1. Russia Has No Nuclear, Radiation Emergencies in September,Itar Tass (10/01/99)
D.  Nuclear Waste
  1. Murmansk Radwaste Facility Completed But Not Commissioned,Bellona (09/29/99)
  2. Groups Protest Nuclear Fuel Import Plans, Bellona(09/30/99)
E.  Y2K; Supercomputers
  1. Prepared Testimony Of Ken Baker, Principal Deputy AssistantSecretary Of The U.S. Department Of Energy For Nonproliferation And NationalSecurity, To The U.S. Senate's Special Committee On The Year 2000 TechnologyProblem, Department of Energy (09/28/99)
  2. U.S., Russia Working on Y2K "Hotline" Glitches, Reuters(09/28/99)
  3. Lugar: Fix Russian Y2K, Newsbytes (09/29/99)
  4. U.S. and Russia Find a Home for Disputed IBM Computers,New York Times (10/01/99)
A. U.S. – Russia General

US Energy Secretary Satisfied with Cooperation with Russia
         Itar Tass
         September 29, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MURMANSK, September 29 (Itar-Tass) - U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson,now in Murmansk on a visit, called as fruitful cooperation between Russianand U.S. specialists in ensuring security of nuclear projects in the RussianNorth.

The secretary, speaking in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass hereon Wednesday, said that he was satisfied with achievements as well ascooperationbetween the U.S. Energy Department and the Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry,the North Fleet, the Murmansk shipping line and the Kurchatov Institute.

He expressed hope that his visit would promote the cause of continuationof this cooperation.

The secretary who arrived in Murmansk on a short working visit on Tuesday,participated this morning in the unveiling ceremony of a new complex forsafe storage of nuclear fuel of the North Fleet.

The complex was designed and built by Russian specialists with Americanfinancial aid. The delegation of overseas energy specialists inspectedwhether all funds were used precisely for this purpose. The guests expressedno claims.

According to remarks by American experts, the security system of nuclearprojects was very reliable both in Murmansk and Severodvinsk.

The American secretary flew to Vologda right after inspection of projectsof joint cooperation in Severodvinsk and Murmansk. He also intends to visitUlyanovsk. On the other hand, U.S. Ambassador to Russia James Collins whocame to Murmansk together with the secretary, continues his familiarisationwith Murmansk.

return to menu

U.S. Energy Secretary Inspects Nuclear Safety In Russia
        Thomas Nilsen
        September 29, 1999
        (for personal use only)

U.S. Energy Secretary inspects the U.S.-funded nuclear safety projectsin Murmansk and Severodvinsk, while the department's programs are underfire of criticism.

This year, the U.S. has provided $137 million for 80 separate projectin Russia for protecting nuclear materials that pose a proliferation risk.Next year, another $165 million might be provided. The U.S. Departmentof Energy manages the program.

Bill Richardson, the U.S. Energy Secretary, will visit Imandra, a servicevessel at Atomflot base in Murmansk, which holds fresh fuel for nuclearpowered icebreakers. Surveillance cameras and detector equipment were installedlast year onboard the ship. At the submarine yard in Severodvinsk, he willinspect the PM-63, a naval Malina class service vessel that holds submarinefresh nuclear fuel. The PM-63 was outfitted with similar equipment as Imandra.

Established in 1994 to keep stockpiles of plutonium and enriched uraniumunder tighter lock and key, the Nuclear Material Protection, Control andAccounting program (MPC&A) is considered by the U.S. Congress to beone of the most successful aid programs for Russia. But even this programis criticised for inadequate oversight. An Energy Department internal audit,released last week even claims that some of the funds have been spent onprojects that have little to do with nuclear safety or non-proliferation.

"Programmatic improvements are needed to ensure that funds and equipmentare used for their intended purposes," said Energy Department's inspectorgeneral, Gregory Friedman, in an interview with the New York Times.

According to Friedman's report, three of nine projects examined, a totalof $929,000 was spent "to secure materials of little proliferation risk."In a number of cases it was not even possible to know how money was spentbecause of limited access to the Russian facilities.

"Even worse," the report said, "significant amounts of the U.S. assistancethat was supposed to go for upgrading security ended up being used to payRussian taxes."

return to menu

Russia, US to Sign Agreement on Utilization of Plutonium
         Itar Tass
         September 30, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

ULYANOVSK, September 30 (Itar-Tass) - US Energy Minister Bill Richardsonarrived in Ulyanovsk on September 29 to discuss problems of signing anintergovernment agreement between Russia and the United States on problemsof utilization of weapons-grade plutonium.

At a briefing held at the Scientific Research Centre of nuclear reactorsin the town of Dimitrovgrad on Thursday. Richardson declared that theutilizationof weapons-grade plutonium was an important task of the mankind.

Russia has achieved considerable accomplishments in the use of weapons-gradeplutonium, earlier used for military programmes, for the production ofmixed fuel used for nuclear reactors, Richardson told Tass. The US ministerwas acquainted with the latest results of research in this field. Anexperimentalinstallation "Bor-60" used to provide heat to the industrial zone of thetown has been operating in Dimitrovgrad.

Scientists believe that heat supplies can be provided to whole citiesin the near future by means of using mixed fuel obtained from weapons-gradeplutonium.

return to menu

Russia Asks U.S. to Expand Joint Efforts to Safeguard Nuclear Fuel
        Judith Miller
        New York Times
        September 30, 1999
        (for personal use only)

ITE 49, SEVEROMORSK, Russia -- Russia has asked the U.S. Energy Departmentto expand joint projects aimed at securing dangerous materials, includingnuclear fuel, that could be turned into weapons, Energy Secretary BillRichardson said Wednesday on a visit here.

Richardson said the proposal incorporated an unusual provision thatwould provide the United States greater access to highly sensitive sitesto which Moscow has barred foreigners or permitted only limited entry.

The offer, which Russian and American officials said was approved byDefense Minister Igor D. Sergeyev, was made by Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov,commander in chief of the Russian Navy, at a private meeting Wednesdaywith Richardson and his senior staff.

The meeting followed a rare tour of Site 49, where the Russian Navystores all the nuclear fuel for its vast Northern Fleet, near Severomorsk,the fleet headquarters, a restricted area. Richardson's entourage was thefirst senior American delegation granted permission to visit what is oneof Russia's largest, most sensitive nuclear naval bases.

The Energy Department has just completed a 16-month $10 million securityupgrade at Site 49 and at the Murmansk Shipping Co., which operatesatomic-poweredicebreakers that are powered with highly enriched fuel rods that can alsobe used in nuclear weapons.

Six experts from several Energy Department laboratories have spent 18months advising the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, the former Soviet Union'spremier research center on nuclear weapons, on improving security at thenavy's nuclear-fuel storage centers. Most were run-down and protected bylittle more than barbed-wire fences and lightly armed guards.

The Energy Department has been working to improve the accounting andsecurity of such dangerous materials in Russia since 1994. But its activitieshere in the Northern Fleet area began only 18 months ago, after a deranged19-year-old Russian sailor had seized control of a nuclear submarine inMurmansk and held the ship for eight agonizing hours.

The head of the press office at the base, Capt. Sergei Anoufriev, saidthe sailor, who had passed a psychological test, had lied about his mentalhistory. The sailor shot and killed five crew members before committingsuicide.

That case, Russian and American officials agreed, awakened the navyto the security threat posed by insiders, rather than foreign foes. Asa result, the Russian Navy began what American officials called a crashprogram to consolidate its numerous nuclear-fuel storage centers into asingle complex.

Site 49, with 11,000 square feet of storage, can hold up to 55 tonsof highly enriched uranium. Wednesday, Navy officials showed off doublefencing with electronic sensors, bright lights, foot-thick steel doors,closed-circuit television monitors, emergency alarms that connect to theheadquarters in Murmansk and response forces in case of a terrorist attack.The giant center, built into a hill and painted in camouflage, is to beginreceiving fuel next week, officials said.

On Tuesday, Richardson began a weeklong tour of Energy Department projectsat several of the most sensitive military installations in Russia. Theagency spends more than $300 million a year on projects aimed at bolsteringthe safety and physical protection of nuclear fuel and other material thatcould be used in bombs. It has projects in 10 of the
once-secret nuclear cities at 53 sites throughout the former SovietUnion, 30 of which are in Russia.

"This project," Richardson said at Site 49, "came in on budget and underthe planned time."

return to menu

Russia Seeks U.S. Help In Improving Nuclear Safeguards
        Agence France Presse
        October 1, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Oct 1, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia has asked theUnited States to expand joint programs aimed at improving security at Russiansites where nuclear fuel and other dangerous material are stored, The NewYork Times said Thursday.

In exchange, Russia will give the United States greater access to highlysensitive sites in Russia that have been barred to foreigners, said thedaily quoting Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

The offer was made by the commander in chief of the Russian Navy, AdmiralVladimir Kuroyedov, during a private meeting Wednesday with Richardson,Russian and US officials told the daily.

Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev has approved the deal, they added.

The meeting followed a visit by Richardson and his senior staff to Site49, near Severomorsk, Russia, where the Russian Navy stores nuclear fuelfor its Northern Fleet, the daily said.

The visit was the first by a senior U.S. delegation to one of Russia'slargest and most sensitive nuclear naval bases.

Richardson's tour of Energy Department projects at several sensitivemilitary installations in Russia began Tuesday.

The department, the daily said, spends more than 300 million dollarsa year on safeguarding nuclear fuel and other dangerous material that canbe used to make bombs at 53 sites throughout the former Soviet Union, 30of them in Russia.

On Monday, the United States and Russia unveiled in Vienna new technologydesigned to monitor nuclear fuel by remote control.

Richardson was caught red-handed tampering with a drum of nuclear material,his photograph taken by a concealed camera in a demonstration of a rangeof new devices.

The initiative, which includes remote-controlled cameras, electronicseals and other devices, is being developed in a trilateral agreement betweenMoscow, Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

return to menu

B. Russian Nuclear Forces

Russian General Gives Nuclear Arsenal Eight Years
         September 28, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - A senior Defence Ministry official saidon Tuesday Russia had at the most eight years to replace its ageing nucleararsenal before it becomes obsolete, Interfax news agency reported.

Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov was speaking to reporters as the StateDuma, the lower house of parliament, opened debate on the draft 2000 budget,from which the military wants more cash.

"The resources of Russia's nuclear weapons are strictly limited andrun out in 2007," Interfax quoted Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov, who isin charge of procurement.

"By then, we will need a full replacement of ground and naval componentsof the strategic nuclear forces," he added. "The air component (strategicbombers) can last until 2015."

Most military analysts say that, because Russia's underfunded and badlytrained conventional forces are declining, its nuclear arsenal is the keymilitary factor for maintaining national security and at least semi-superpowerstatus.

Russia has developed a new generation of ballistic missiles, Topol-M,which it hopes will replace old rockets. A handful of the missiles havebeen deployed.

Sitnov said Russia had to switch to new nuclear weapons by 2007 if itwanted to maintain its nuclear shield and meet the terms of the still unratifiedSTART-2 arms reduction pact signed with the United States in 1993.

Under START-2 accord Russia and the United States would slash theirdeployed nuclear warheads from about 6,000 each to no more than 3,500 eachby 2007.

The U.S. Senate has ratified the treaty, but Russia's Communist-dominatedDuma has held back, concerned in part by fears the United States is planningto break out of another disarmament pact, the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

A freeze in relations with NATO introduced by Russia during the alliance'sbombing campaign against Yugoslavia earlier this year has further delayedthe ratification of START-2.

return to menu

Russia Test-Launches Sub-Based Nuclear Missile
         October 1, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MOSCOW, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Russia test-launched a submarine-based nuclearmissile on Friday in the first such exercise in several months, the navysaid. Russia has the world's second largest nuclear arsenal after the UnitedStates and relies on missiles in silos, on bombers and in nuclear-poweredsubmarines. Russia's deep economic crisis means cash is short and testlaunches are rare.

"An atomic submarine from the Pacific Fleet launched a ballistic missileto the region of the Barents and White Seas, as planned," navy spokesmanIgor Dygalo told Reuters.

"It was a training launch, a successful launch from an underwater position."

As test firings take weeks to arrange, it seemed unlikely the exercisewas muscle-flexing to help bolster Moscow's military image while its armyand air force are engaged in a growing crisis over the rebel region ofChechnya.

Dygalo said the United States had been told in advance about the testlaunch, which took place while U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, whoseremit covers in part nuclear arms control, was visiting Russia.

The spokesman said the last test launch from a submarine was at thestart of the year.

He declined to say what kind of missile was tested but said: "I cansay that this missile is the one we always fire."

Interfax news agency said the submarine was what NATO calls a Delta-3,a vessel that can carry up to 16 SS-N-18 Stingray nuclear missiles. Accordingto the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia has 10 Delta-3submarines.

Defence analysts say Russia is working on a new submarine-launched missileto match its new-generation, silo-based Topol-M missile. So far, just ahandful of the land Topol-M missiles have been deployed.

Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov, the Defence Ministry's procurement chief,said on Tuesday Russia had until 2007 to replace its ageing nuclear arsenalbefore it becomes obsolete.

"By then, we will need a full replacement of ground and naval componentsof the strategic nuclear forces," he said. "The air component (strategicbombers) can last until 2015."

Most military analysts say that, because Russia's underfunded and badlytrained conventional forces are declining, its nuclear arsenal is the keymilitary factor for maintaining national security and at least semi-superpowerstatus.

return to menu

C. Nuclear Power Industry

Russia Has No Nuclear, Radiation Emergencies in September
        Itar Tass
        October 1, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, October 1 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian State Nuclear InspectionService did not register in September a single case, leading to a lowerlevel of nuclear or radiation safety, Itar-Tass learnt at the press serviceof the Russian Nuclear Inspection Service here on Friday.

According to specialists, while operating nuclear power stations inSeptember, managements cut down four times capacities of some power unitson applications from service personnel to remove detected malfunctionsof equipment (two times at the Leningrad and Smolensk power plants each).

Automatic protection systems switched on four times at research reactorsof research institutions in the city of Dimitrovgrad.

Besides, the personnel shut down the AM-1 research reactor at thePhysics-EnergyInstitute in the city of Obninsk, since one of reactor cells was not tight.

All the cases did not register violations in safe operation levels.There were no changes in the radiation situation in areas with facilitiesunder the control of the inspection service.

Specialists also reported that a gamma source with an activity of 37.7kilocuries of unknown origin was unearthed in the Leningrad Region. TheRadon company took the source for storage (burial). There are no data onits radiation action on population. The incident is being investigated.

return to menu

D. Nuclear Waste

Murmansk Radwaste Facility Completed But Not Commissioned
        Igor Kudrik
        September 29, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Liquid radwaste processing facility completion celebrated in Murmansk;the time frame for actual commissioning remains unclear.

A crowd of Westerners and Russians were celebrating for another successivetime completion of a liquid waste processing facility in Murmansk on September28. The last event of similar nature took place in Murmansk in late 1998.The problem is that the facility is still not operative.

Established in 1994 as a trilateral program between the U.S., Norwayand Russia, the aim of the project was to upgrade an existing liquid wasteprocessing facility situated at nuclear powered icebreakers base, Atomflot,in Murmansk. The existing facility is capable of processing 1,200 cubicmeters a year. When upgraded, the facility will have the capacity to takeon 5,000 cubic meters of liquid radwaste annually. The project's pricetag is put at $3.5 million. The political goal behind the project was tohave Russia sign the London Dumping Convention.

The processing is based on a sorbing technology. The sediments producedduring processing will be put into concrete at a plant that is a part ofthe facility.

There have been numerous deadlines set for the facility completion thepast few years. None of them were met. Tax exemption problems for the fundstransferred to Russia, disagreements among the partners were named amongthe reasons.

Today, the Russian side says that the testing of the facility will startbefore the year 2000 when small portions of liquid waste with varying contentwill be processed. The full operation of the facility will hopefully startsome time during 2000. No particular
deadlines are set this time, said Murmansk Shipping Company officialswho will operate the facility.

Once commissioned, the facility will be capable of processing all theliquid radwaste generated in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Counties, both bythe Northern Fleet's nuclear warships and the nuclear powered icebreakers.The only problem that may come up is the inability of the Northern Fleetto pay for processing services since the facility will be operated by MurmanskShipping Company on commercial basis.

return to menu

Groups Protest Nuclear Fuel Import Plans
        Thomas Nilsen
        September 30, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russian envirogroups staged actions of protest in major cities of Siberiawhere Russian Nuclear Ministry plans to build storage sites for importedspent nuclear fuel.

Natalia Mironova, the leader of a Chelyabinsk-based Movement for NuclearSafety, was arrested Wednesday together with four other local environmentalistafter protesting against the plans to import foreign spent nuclear fuelto Siberia. After some hours in
custody she was released, but she still has to face a court hearingon October 4. Two of the other activists remained in custody Thursday awaitingthe court hearing.

The activists blocked the entrance to the Administration Building downtownChelyabinsk on the anniversary of the Kysthym-accident, one of the Russia'sworst nuclear accident, which happened on September 29, 1957, at Mayakplant's secret plutonium factory.

At the same time the activists delivered 2.000 signatures against theplans to import spent nuclear fuel from other countries for storage inSiberia. Several other environmental groups in Chelyabinsk participatedin the demonstration.

"We want to make it clear for the federal authorities that the populationin Siberia is strongly against the import of nuclear waste," Mironova saidto Bellona Web after she was released from custody.

Similar demonstrations were arranged this week in the Siberian citiesof Novosibirsk and Tomsk. An appeal protesting the nuclear waste importplans signed by local environmental groups in Krasnoyarsk was sent to RussianMinistry for Atomic Energy,
or Minatom, in Moscow. Krasnoyarsk is the most likely location forforeign spent nuclear fuel storage.

Photo: Natalia Mironova was arrested in Chelyabinsk after protestingthe plans to import spent nuclear fuel from other nations.

More than 40 activists from environmental groups in Chelyabinsk, Tomsk,Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk meet in Chelyabinsk in September to co-ordinatethe work against import of nuclear waste to Russia.

return to menu

E. Y2K; Supercomputers

Prepared Testimony Of Ken Baker, Principal Deputy Assistant SecretaryOf The U.S. Department Of Energy For Nonproliferation And National Security,To The U.S. Senate's Special Committee On The Year 2000 Technology Problem
        Department of Energy
        September 28, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee for the opportunityto appear before you today to present this statement for the record onthe Department of Energy's activities to address the year 2000 (Y2K) computerproblems of Soviet-designed nuclear power reactors.

I commend the work this Committee is doing to highlight the importanceof the year 2000 issue in both the United States and internationally. Ilook forward to working closely with this Committee, particularly as itrelates to the 68 Soviet-designed power reactors located in the New IndependentStates (NIS) and in Eastern European Countries. Today, I will briefly reviewour ongoing activities to improve the safety of Soviet-designed nuclearpower reactors to provide you the context for today's year 2000 discussion.I will then discuss our understanding of year 2000 problems that existat these plants and review the actions we have already taken to assistin reducing the risk of an accident. Finally, I will describe our pathforward through the end of this year.

At the outset, however, I wish to emphasize that the Department is providingassistance to countries, not managing their Y2K remediation efforts. TheDepartment's experts have held many meetings with the host country's expertsand visited several of their nuclear power plants to evaluate their Y2Kneeds. Although some Soviet-designed nuclear power plants continue to beat higher risk of a nuclear accident due to difficulties in design andoperating conditions, based on our current information and the ongoingY2K-related work being done at the nuclear facilities, we conclude thatthere is not a significantly increased risk of a nuclear accident due toa Y2K event. The Department's experts expect the primary safety systemsto continue to function properly to shut down the plants safely, if needed,during a Y2K event. However, there are Y2K issues with other systems
important to safety and normal plant operations that, if left uncorrected,could compromise nuclear safety. We are continuing to work with the hostcountries to address these issues.

Ongoing Activities to Improve Safety

The 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant revealed manyflaws in the Soviet approach to nuclear power. The reactors and nuclearinfrastructures left behind by the Soviet government continue to operatein nine countries. These reactors, including one that still operates atthe Chernobyl site, suffer from deficiencies in training, safety procedures,design, and equipment. Some problems have been exacerbated by the breakupof the Soviet Union--equipment shortages are commonplace and many nuclearprofessionals suffer from low or erratic pay. If not corrected, these conditionspose a continued risk of a reactor accident in Ukraine, Russia, Armenia,Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Bulgaria.The current year 2000 concerns are only a portion of our continuing concerns.

If another major nuclear accident occurred, the United States and theinternational community would be forced to deal with the political, economicand environmental destabilization of politically sensitive regions. Thisconcern led the U. S. Government to conclude that enhancing the safetyof Soviet-era nuclear reactors and establishing improved safety infrastructuresin the countries that operate them is a vital national security interestof the United States. The U. S. and other Western countries have thetechnologiesand skills to work with these nations to address nuclear safety challengeswith a relatively modest investment. Rather than providing billions ofdollars in foreign aid to correct all of the problems directly, the safetyprogram helps the host countries structure their nuclear industry to addresssafety issues, to prevent accidents, and, as their economies improve, toincrease their own funding for nuclear safety. These activities are criticalto preserving these emerging, democratic, free market economies.

I am proud of the progress the Department of Energy has made to improvethe safety of Soviet-designed nuclear power plants and in establishingself-sustaining nuclear safety infrastructures in these countries. TheDepartment is working with the host countries and the personnel at all68 nuclear power reactors, which are located at 23 sites. There are severaldifferent designs, including the RBMK, or Chernobyl-type, the VVER-440and the VVER-1000. The greatest safety concerns pertain to the RBMK andearly models of the VVER-440. We are addressing the most serious risksat these reactors by improving the plants' physical operating conditions,installing safety equipment, developing improved safety procedures, establishingregional centers for training reactor personnel, and conducting in-depthsafety assessments of the operating plants.

Some understanding of the actual risk can be achieved based on recentlycompleted probabilistic risk assessments performed by international expertsat two RBMK plants; one at the Ignalina plant in Lithuania and anotherat the Leningrad plant in Russia. Regardless of the year 2000 situation,if no safety upgrades were performed, risk experts calculate that the frequencyof a core meltdown accident at an RBMK reactor is approximately one-hundredtimes higher than at a typical U.S. nuclear power plant. Unlike U.S. plants,RBMK reactors do not have containment structures, making the consequencesof a core meltdown even more severe.

The Department is also working to convert the operating modes of thethree nuclear production reactors located at Seversk and Zhelenogorsk inRussia to enable the reactors to continue operations without producingweapons grade plutonium. These plants are old and have some of the sameserious safety issues associated with RBMKs.

Accomplishments of the Department's program range from installationof safety parameter display systems at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine andthe Kursk plant in Russia, to completing training for thousands of reactorstaff at the Balakovo training center in Russia and the Khmelnytskyy trainingcenter in Ukraine. Equipment, such as pipe lathe and welding equipment,fire doors, back-up generators, dry cask spent fuel storage systems andadditional safety equipment and materials, has been delivered to plantsthroughout the former Soviet Union. The list of accomplishments to dateis extensive, and the equipment and other activities are having very positiveimpacts on the safety of operations at these plants.

The Year 2000 Problem at Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants

The U.S. Department of Energy is working closely with the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to help resolve year 2000 (Y2K) issues associatedwith Soviet-designed reactors. The Department has received requests fromRussia, Ukraine and other countries for Y2K assistance in the nuclear powersector. The Department is responding to these requests by assisting thesecountries in their efforts to address safety-related Y2K issues at theirreactors. Let me briefly state the objectives of our Y2K initiative forSoviet-designed reactors and outline our accomplishments thus far. Then,I will summarize the current status of the ongoing work and the path forward.

Purpose and Objectives

The goal of the Department's program is to assist countries withSoviet-designedreactors address safety-related Y2K issues. We are helping to ensure thatY2K events will not cause an accident or significant challenge to plantsafety. We have been working in
cooperation with the host countries since 1998.


Most of the contributions we made early on were in the form of workshopsand training, sometimes bilaterally with the host country, at other timesin conjunction with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). TheIAEA has developed guidance for conducting Y2K evaluations at nuclear powerplants based on the Nuclear Energy Institute Y2K assessment guidelinesused in the United States. The Department initially conducted an October1998 workshop in Moscow on Y2K issues for nuclear power plants in Russia.This workshop was hosted by the Russian utility that manages nuclear powerplants, Rosenergoatom. A similar workshop was conducted in March 1998 inKiev, Ukraine. This workshop was hosted by the utility responsible forUkraine's nuclear plants, Energoatom.

We supported a training workshop on the IAEA's Y2K Guidance Documentfor member countries in Vienna, Austria on January 25 through 29, 1999.The guidance helps to standardize the efforts across all the nuclear powerplants. We sponsored the development of software to assist plants withusing the IAEA Y2K Guidance and in sharing information gathered via theInternet.

Transmission and distribution of electric power is another significantY2K issue. We conducted Transmission and Distribution Year 2000 InformationExchange Workshops in Moscow, Russia in February 1999 and in Kiyo, Ukrainein March 1999 to assess current Y2K programs within the Russian and Ukrainiantransmission and distribution systems.

To assist in implementing the IAEA guidance, we sponsored the developmentof draft procedures to conduct an IAEA Y2K Guidance-based assessment process.

To gain a plant perspective of how the Y2K assessments were going, weparticipated in Russian reviews of the ongoing Y2K evaluation work at theBeloyarsk and Kola nuclear power plants. In addition, we have visited theLeningrad, Chernobyl, Zaporizhzhya, and Armenian nuclear power plants andhave met with representatives from almost all the
Soviet-designed reactor facilities during meetings in Moscow, Kiev,Vienna, and the U.S.

A technique that proved valuable in our other safety work was arrangingvisits to U.S. nuclear plants to observe how US plant managers dealt withspecific issues. In this instance, we sponsored visits in July to the Surryand Calvert Cliffs plants for Russian Y2K specialists and the San Onofreand Palo Verde for Ukrainian representatives. During the visits, they reviewedU.S. Y2K assessments, the remediation work completed, and the process ofdeveloping contingency plans. Part of the team was made up of Y2K specialistsfrom the Russian and Ukrainian nuclear regulatory organizations.

Also in July, we supported an IAEA Information Exchange Workshop formember countries in Vienna. This provided an opportunity for discussionsof the ongoing Y2K work in each country.

The week of July 26, we sponsored the training of Russian, Ukrainian,and Lithuanian personnel in automated software scanning tools. Such toolscan much more rapidly and accurately scan lines of computer codes thanlaborious manual reviews during assessment and remediation efforts. TheDepartment has provided a countrywide license for this tool for use atnuclear plants and transmission and distribution centers throughout Ukraine.The Department also provided funding to Ukraine for the computers and personnelto operate the software. These actions will improve the manual processthat was being used in Ukraine to review and change the date-sensitiveparts of the computer programs. Software licenses for the scanning toolsalso were provided for both units at Ignalina plant in Lithuania.

Summary of Our Current Knowledge of the Situation

I am pleased to say that initial complacency in some countries withSoviet-designed nuclear plants has greatly improved. Although some Y2Kresponse efforts were only begun within the last year, significant progressis now being made. Most of the host countries are following the IAEA guidanceclosely when conducting Y2K assessments of their
nuclear plants and electrical transmission and distribution facilities.

Equipment provided by the United States has been carefully evaluatedfor Y2K safety concerns. This evaluation and follow-up remediation hasensured that no equipment provided by the United States will cause a Y2Ksafety problem.

Based on recent information, Russia, Ukraine and other host countrieshave established adequate Y2K programs. We have categorized their programsinto four phases. Phase one is inventory/preliminary assessments; phasetwo is detailed assessment/ testing; phase three is remediation; phasefour is contingency planning. Of the 68 nuclear reactor units in the ninecountries of the former Soviet Union, 50 have completed their phase twodetailed assessments and testing activities. Each of the 50 is underwaywith its phase three remediation activities. The remaining nuclear unitsare proceeding to complete their detailed assessments and testing activities.Of the total, 45 have begun developing their phase four contingency plans.

Our understanding of each country's Y2K program for its nuclear powerplants is shown in the attached Table, "Summary of Y2K Compliance atSoviet-DesignedReactors, September 1999."

While much work remains to be done, let me emphasize that current informationindicates that there are no known Y2K problems with the primary reactorsafety systems. These systems detect problems and automatically shut downthe plant. Therefore, if something goes wrong at the plant, we expect thatthe primary safety system will continue to function properly and shut downthe plant safely.

Not all the countries are at the same stage of readiness; however, Russiahas established a well-organized and aggressive, if under-funded, Y2K program.Each plant has reported that it has completed its preliminary and detailedassessments, although the depth and accuracy of these assessments are notcompletely known by us. The nuclear power plants in Russia plan to completeremediating their important systems in October 1999. On the other hand,Ukraine has developed an assessment plan, but until lately had only completedlimited assessments. The Department of Energy is partnering with the Scienceand Technology Center in Ukraine to work with the Ukrainian utility andnuclear power plants to conduct systematically a slightly varied implementationof the methodology described in the IAEA Y2K Guidance document. Ukraineplans to complete its remediation  activities by November 1999.

There are Y2K safety concerns with nuclear power plants in Russia andUkraine. Specifically, systems without direct safety impact, but that areimportant to safety, have known Y2K problems. Common to both RBMK and VVERreactors are monitoring computers, such as the plant process computer.This computer monitors conditions within the reactor and provides informationto the operator. The operator uses this information to make various adjustmentsto the plant, such as moving control rods or changing flow rates. Failureof the plant process computer is not an immediate safety concern, butregulationsrequire that the plant be shut down within a few hours or less, if thecomputer is not restored to full operation. RBMK plant process computersare known to suffer from both hardware and software Y2K vulnerabilities,while at VVERs problems are generally confined to software issues.

The radiation monitoring system, which is a system important to safety,is another system at Soviet-designed reactors with known Y2K vulnerabilities.The operator of the nuclear facility would be required to shut down thereactor if it failed. The security access system, which allows personnelaccess to parts of the nuclear plant to check on the performance of equipmentand instruments, is also known to have Y2K vulnerabilities. Other systemsthat are Y2K vulnerable, for example, are the ancillary systems connectedto the plant process computer to calculate the state of the reactor core.The core monitoring software that calculates the power distribution inthe nuclear core and the fuel management system that calculates the nuclearfuel that is burned are also Y2K vulnerable. Failure of each would requirethe operator to shut down the reactor.

There is concern that, if not fixed, these problems could result inthe simultaneous shut down of several nuclear plants, causing disruptionof power supplies in the middle of winter. In 1997, the nuclear power plantsin Russia produced 14 percent of the nation's electricity; in the far westernparts of Russia, the share was nearly 25 percent. The Kola, Leningrad,and Smolensk nuclear power plants supply half of northwest Russia's electricityrequirements. In 1997, Ukrainian nuclear power plants produced 47 percentof the nation's electricity. Thus, shutting down these reactors could havea serious impact on the populace. Alternatively, there may be pressureto keep the plants running, even without the plant process or other monitoringcomputers, which would then create a safety problem. In general, the Russiansreport that they have remediated their plant process computer softwarevulnerabilities using a manual review process. Work is in progress in Ukraineto remediate these same problems using tools provided by the Department.

Moreover, the following Y2K safety concern exists in all the host countries.Y2K problems may originate within the electrical transmission and distributionsystem and cause an unplanned reactor shut down (referred to as a lossof off-site power accident). Russian and Ukrainian transmission and distributionexperts have stated that they have found Y2K problems with their automatedsystems; however, they are confident that they can operate their systemsin a manual mode and avoid any unplanned disruption of electricity suppliesto the nuclear power plants. The situation in the other host countriesis expected to be similar. Host-country experts are more concerned thatY2K would cause the nuclear power plants to shut down which would in turncause disruption of electric supplies. Any unplanned shut down due to aloss of off-site power poses risks to the safety of the nuclear power plants,because emergency battery and diesel power systems must function properlyto ensure plant safety.

The Department has discussed with Russian and Ukrainian government officialsthe importance for sufficient supplies of diesel fuel to power the back-upelectrical generators, if there were a loss of off-site power event causedby Y2K. Our experts also are meeting with the nuclear power plant staffsto better assess the adequacy of diesel
fuel supplies.

The host countries in conjunction with the Department of Energy areworking to develop contingency plans to address these Y2K concerns. Theseplans help plant operators understand possible Y2K problems that may occurand establish procedures to address potential problems. The plans wouldhelp prevent operators from inadvertently creating a worse situation dueto inappropriate operator actions.

Path Forward

Based on meetings at the IAEA and discussions with the host countries,the countries of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, and Slovakiaappear to be adequately addressing Y2K issues. Kazakhstan has permanentlyshut down its BN350 reactor, limiting Y2K assistance to equipment for monitoringthe plant during shut down and its spent fuel. Therefore, the Departmentis focusing its assistance in the countries of Armenia, Russia and Ukraine,with limited assistance to Kazakhstan.

In most countries, the preliminary and detailed assessments are completeor are nearly complete. In Russia, the Department's efforts complementthe efforts of the International Science and Technology Center. The Centeris pursuing a program at Russian nuclear power plants to help verify thepreliminary and detailed Y2K assessments that the Russian nuclear powerplants had completed before using systematic guidelines. The Center plansto complete those assessments that are either deficient or incomplete accordingto their established Y2K guidelines. The Russian utility, Rosenergoatom,provides the results of the assessments sponsored by the Center directlyto the Department which in turn develops a Y2K remediation assistance strategyfor the nuclear power plants. The Department's remediation assistancecomplementsthe existing Y2K programs at the nuclear power plants.

In addition, the Department has participated in two Russian reviewsof the Y2K evaluations conducted at Russian nuclear power plants. Thesereviews were held at the Beloyarsk and Kola plants. The Department expertswill also participate in a review at the Bilibino plant (near Alaska) inmid-October.

Similarly in Ukraine, efforts will continue under the partnership withthe Science and Technology Center in Ukraine, Ukrainian institutes, andnuclear power plants to implement, with slight variances, the IAEA Y2Kguidance at all the plants. This will complement the work already completedwith the IAEA's help at Chernobyl Unit 3, Zaporizhzhya Unit 6, and SouthUkraine Unit 3. The Department works closely with the IAEA during its ongoingreviews of the assessment efforts in the host-countries.

The Department is providing assistance in remediating identified Y2Kproblems in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Because of the assessmentefforts, specific problems have been identified and the plants have requestedassistance to remediate these problems. In Russia, the utility and nuclearpower plants have requested assistance in purchasing replacement hardwareand software for systems that will be important in maintaining continuedoperations. Similar requests have been received from the Chernobyl andZaporizhzhya nuclear power plants in Ukraine and the nuclear power plantsin Kazakhstan and Armenia. Efforts are underway to provide these requestedmaterials and assistance. In addition, it is expected that the rest ofthe nuclear power plants will also have similar requests as their detailedassessment work progresses. When these additional deficiencies are discoveredand prioritized at other plants, consideration will be given to providingassistance to correct the deficiencies.

Regarding the reliability of the electrical transmission and distributionsystems and their impacts on nuclear safety, this issue is being addressedprimarily by the development of Y2K contingency plans. The Department sponsoreda contingency planning workshop during the week of September 19, 1999 inPrague for Armenian, Bulgarian, Czech Republic, Hungarian, Lithuanian,and Slovakian nuclear power plant and transmission and distribution personnel.Similar contingency planning working sessions are scheduled this week inRussia and in October for Ukraine. The working meetings are intended toassist the plants and utilities of the host countries in completing theircontingency planning. These meetings are being coordinated with similarInternational Energy Agency meetings in Paris and Prague in late Septemberand early October. Personnel from U.S. plants and utilities will attendin order to share their contingency plans and experiences. In addition,Ukrainian and Russian representatives visited the United States earlierthis month to observe the nationwide North American Electric ReliabilityCouncil year 2000 drill on September 9, 1999.

The Department is coordinating with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionto provide assistance to host-country regulatory bodies as requested. Thenuclear regulatory bodies in the host-countries have participated in meetingswith the Department's experts. They have advised the Department's experts,based on information obtained from IAEA meetings and visits to the U.S.,on Y2K issues related to their regulations. The regulatory body in Russia,for example, was a major contributor to the development of the Russianversion of the IAEA Y2K guidance document.


We are relying on the host countries to assess their Y2K issues properly,remediate problems, and develop contingency plans using established guidelines.We have provided information and assistance at each step along the pathto Y2K readiness. The initial complacency that was expressed by some hostcountry representatives has given way to significant efforts on their partto resolve Y2K problems. In light of the relatively late start of theseY2K activities, we cannot be completely certain that they will be successful.On the other hand, as I stated earlier, we do not anticipate failure ofprimary safety systems. Therefore, the Department's experts believe thatthere is not a significantly increased risk of a nuclear accident atSoviet-designednuclear power plants due to a Y2K event. We are helping to remediate themonitoring systems, such as the process computers, which if they failedshould lead to an orderly shut down of a plant according to safety procedures.We are providing assistance with contingency planning and will continueto work toward resolution of Y2K issues at Soviet-designed nuclear powerplants.

Nonetheless, some known Y2K problems that do not directly affect plantsafety or continued operation of the plant probably will not be correctedbefore the end of 1999.

return to menu

U.S., Russia Working on Y2K "Hotline" Glitches
        September 28, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The United States and Russia have foundpotential Year 2000 glitches in all but one of seven Cold War-era "hotlines"and are rushing to correct them, a top Pentagon official told Congresson Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of Defence Edward Warner, together with colleaguesfrom the Energy and State departments, outlined a U.S. drive to help Russiacope with Y2K-related disruptions.

In testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Y2K, Warner said theClinton administration was giving Moscow Y2K-compliant software and computersto correct "program deficiencies in outage reporting, monitoring and channelreroute operations."

The Defence Department is seeking to meet about $15.5 million in Russianrequests for things like emergency generators, fire trucks, warhead handlingvehicles, radios and backup communications, Warner said.

Citing safety concerns about the 68 Soviet-designed nuclear power reactorsin Russia and eight other former Soviet bloc states, Deputy Assistant EnergySecretary Ken Baker said: "The worst enemy is time right now."

He said Energy Department experts were working bilaterally and throughgroups like the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency to fixY2K vulnerabilities in Russian and Eastern European nuclear reactors.

The Y2K glitch stems from the use of two digits to represent years,like 99 for 1999. Unless fixed, computers may read 00 as 1900 instead of2000. That could trip critical systems, including power grids, and leadnuclear plants to shut down if they lose "off-site" backup power.

Among other things, U.S. experts were urging plant operators to startdiesel generators a day or two before New Year's eve to ensure adequatebackup power for reactors if power grids failed, Baker said.


The ultimate goal, he said, was to prevent the highly remote dangerof a meltdown like that at Ukraine's Chernobyl No. 4 reactor in 1986.

The U.S. government has deemed enhancing the safety of Soviet-era nuclearreactors "a vital national security interest," he testified.

State Department officer John Beyrle said Russia, pinched for cash,may experience Y2K-related problems for "months" into 2000.

"It will be prudent to view post-Y2K Russia a country that maycontinue to rely on the U.S. and other countries for help in overcomingcomputer-related disruptions," he said.

Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana and a panel member, notedthat despite current congressional probes of alleged official Russiancorruption,the issue appeared to be not if the United States should help Russia buthow quickly Y2K help could arrive.

Committee Chairman Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, and Vice ChairmanChris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, urged the administration to wasteno time in crafting responses to possible Russian post-Y2K travails.

To avoid misunderstandings during the date change, the United Statesand Russia agreed on Sept. 13 to set up a joint "Center for Y2K StrategicStability" at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

In addition to sharing missile launch information, Russian and U.S.officers staffing the post will be able to talk through any defence-relatedproblems that emerge during the calendar rollover, Warner said.

"Assured communications between U.S. and Russian leaders is a priorityat all times, and of particular concern over the millennium date change,"said Warner, who is responsible for strategy and threat reduction.


The United States and Russia each keep roughly 2,500 nuclear-tippedmissiles pointed at one another on hair-trigger alert despite the collapseof the old Soviet Union in December 1991 and the end of the Cold War.

They began installing the seven direct communications links, popularlyknown as hotlines, in 1963 to guarantee immediate communication when needed.

Among them are direct links between the two presidents; between thesecretary of state and the foreign minister; and a data link between nuclearrisk reduction centres on both sides. A secure link also is key to operationsof the temporary Centre for Y2K Strategic Stability.

The precise nature of the other Moscow-Washington "hotlines" may beclassified, Warner told Reuters.

He said a "critical" Y2K-related issue was the security of Russia'snuclear stockpiles, which the United States has spent millions to keepsafe from guerrilla groups.

"Of special concern are the security systems in nuclear storage sitesaffecting access control ... fire detection and suppression and warheadinventory and accountability," he said.

return to menu

Lugar: Fix Russian Y2K
        David McGuire
        September 29, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The United States would be well-served to earmark a few million dollarsto aid Russia in its ongoing Y2K remediation efforts, because Russian Y2Kfailures could endanger US national security, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.,said today.

"In my opinion, an 'insurance policy' in this area is a good investment,"Lugar said, speaking before the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000Technology Problem. "The cost of efforts to address potential threats todaywill be miniscule in comparison to the costs of responding to a tragedyshould an incident occur."

Today's hearing featured testimony from a slew of national securityand foreign affairs experts - many of whom raised concerns about the Y2Krisks facing Russia and other former Eastern Bloc countries.

"Russia is likely to experience disruptions in its electrical grid andtelecommunications infrastructure, with subsequent effects on financial,industrial and government sector," US State Department representative JohnBeyrle said at the hearing.

Even more frightening, Lugar said, are the Y2K threats facing Russia'snuclear reactors, missile stockpiles and early warning systems.

"Russian early-warning capabilities continue to deteriorate and thisdeterioration will be compounded by the transition to the Year 2000," Lugarsaid. "Russian early warning operators may not be able to tell the differencebetween a peaceful rocket and a military rocket from their computer screens."

To address that concern, Russian and US defense authorities have establishedthe Center for Y2K Strategic Stability in Colorado Springs Colo. Staffedby Russian and US personnel, the Center will watch for false alarms.

But the threat to Soviet-constructed Russian nuclear power plants remainssignificant, Lugar contended.

Built without many of the failsafe and safety devices that are commonin Western and US-built plants, Russian reactors are still susceptibleto potentially serious Y2K glitches.

"I would urge my colleagues to once again look to the future and toexamine the benefits of cooperating with Russia on Y2K versus the potentialrisks of inaction," he said.

Lugar has long been active in US-Russian relations.

return to menu

U.S. and Russia Find a Home for Disputed IBM Computers
        Judith Miller
        New York Times
        October 1, 1999
        (for personal use only)

AROV, Russia -- The United States and Russia have quietly resolved along-simmering dispute over the illegal sale of sophisticated IBM computersto Russia's leading nuclear weapons lab, American officials said Thursday.

In the process both sides have helped open to cyberspace what was onceone of the most secret installations of the Soviet Union.

On Friday the 16 computers, now fully licensed and operational, willbe on display as part of the "open computing center" that the American,Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, is to inaugurate at the lab that developedRussia's hydrogen bomb.

The center is a joint project of the Energy Department and Minatom,the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, to which Washington contributed$2.3 million. It is intended to help find jobs outside the weapons industryfor thousands of scientists, engineers and technicians at this remote,still largely closed nuclear city and its premier lab.

In quiet talks for more than two years Washington had insisted thatthe computers, which IBM sold to Russia in 1996 without the required exportlicense, either be returned or openly dedicated to nonweapons work. Russiainitially refused, but earlier this year, negotiators agreed that the computerswould be incorporated into the computer center, which is expected to create80 technology jobs in its first year and as many as 650 in the next fiveyears.

The center is one of five projects planned here under the Nuclear CitiesInitiative, which Richardson began last year. It is aimed at convertingRussia's 10 closed nuclear cities to peaceful work. But Congressionalappropriatorsseverely cut the Administration's request earlier this week, granting theambitious undertaking only $7 million of the $30 million sought.

Richardson defended the initiative in an interview, saying he hopedto use money from other weapons conversion programs to help scientistshere and at Snezhinsk and Zheleznogorsk, two other nuclear cities, to convertto peaceful work. "We are all concerned that scientists might be forcedby economic necessity to seek employment in rogue states or among terrorists,"he said.

Sarov, some 250 miles southeast of Moscow, is the Russian equivalentof Los Alamos National Laboratory, where America's nuclear bombs were designed.But in addition to designing bombs, this complex, roughly the size ofWashington,D.C., still engineers, fabricates and assembles nuclear weapons warheadsand components.

As part of the Soviet Union's effort to mimic the Manhattan Project,Stalin established a nuclear complex here in 1946 and closed the city.It takes its name from a monastery held sacred by the Russian Orthodoxfor its link to one of the most revered Russian saints, Seraphim of Sarov.

The walled monastery became the site of the first Soviet nuclear programunder Stalin. The remote city was renamed Arzamas-16, which appeared onno Soviet maps and was accessible to few.

Not until 1990 did the Soviets acknowledge its existence. Russia restoredthe city's historic name in 1995.

Rady Ilkayev, director of the Russian lab and a prominent physicist,talked today about the institute's 30,000 employees, and their struggleto survive the downsizing of the nuclear weapons industry in this nowimpoverishedcity of 80,000.

Dr. Ilkayev said the institute's staff had shrunk almost in half, to18,000 employees from 30,000. Although the institute once controlled virtuallyall of the city's vital infrastructure, he said that 40 percent of Sarov'stransport, 90 percent of its medical infrastructure and 70 percent of itssports arenas had now been transferred to the city government.

Fifteen percent of the lab's employees now work in the civilian sector,but Dr. Ilkayev said he hoped to increase that proportion to 29 percentby 2002. He said this could be achieved partly by expanding the institute'sdiamond-cutting business, its oil and gas enterprises, and its productionof hydraulic drives and medical isotopes.

Noting that the United States provides some 86 percent of the $8 millionthat the institute receives each year in aid from foreign governments andlabs, Dr. Ilkayev called the United States his main partner. He said thatAmerican support had helped "prevent critical leakage" of key scientistswith nuclear weapons expertise. He estimated that his institute would need$40 million over three years to restructure the lab. With Russian bankinterest rates exceeding 50 percent, raising that amount of investmentcapital domestically is impossible, he said.

Russia had evaded American export laws by buying the IBM computers in1996 through Moscow-based middlemen. IBM installed them here. Though aFederal grand jury investigated the transfer, no charges were brought againstIBM

return to menu

Section Menu:

© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.