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Nuclear News - 07/26/00
 RANSAC Nuclear News, 26 July 2000


A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

    1. Moscow Welcomes U.S.-Russian Nuclear Cooperation, AgenceFrance Presse (7/24/00)
    2. Strickland Introduces Bill To Bring Uranium  EnrichmentPlants Back Under Government Control, Office of Ted Strickland (7/18/00)
B. Nuclear Waste
    1. The Cradle Of Death: West Turns A Blind Eye To Russia's NuclearWaste Problems, David Lowry, The Guardian (7/26/00)
C. U.S. – Russia General
    1. Russia's Putin Pleased With G8 Summit, Reuters (7/24/00)
D. ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Cohen Says Missile Defense System Requires Support of Allies,Christopher Marquis, New York Times (7/26/00)
    2. Putin Deploys Skill On Arms Control, Baltimore Sun (7/23/00)
E. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Moscow Planning 30 New Nuclear Plants Over Next 30 Years,RFE/RL (7/25/00)
    2. Siberia-Environment: Plans to Build More Nuclear Plants AssailedInter Press Service, Inter Press Service (7/23/00)

A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

1.
Moscow Welcomes U.S.-Russian Nuclear Cooperation
        Agence France Presse
        July 24, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov on Monday welcomed progressin the ten-year-old nuclear cooperation between Moscow and Washington duringtalks with U.S. energy officials.

Adamov said the program for recycling of enriched uranium from Russiannuclear weapons in US power stations was running at full throttle, an atomicministry official told AFP.

"We have reached the level of 30 tons a year foreseen under the program,"Adamov told the US delegation, according to the official.

The Russian minister also briefed them about a project to build a nuclearstorage site with 25,000 containers near the Urals city of Yekaterinburg.

The US-financed site will be operational in autumn 2002, Adamov said.

Also discussed was a project backed by the United States to dismantleRussian nuclear submarines which are disintegrating because of lack ofmaintenance funds and reconvert former secret nuclear bases.

The meeting was delayed for a week due to disagreements between Washingtonand Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported.

The United States criticized Russian cooperation with some other nationson nuclear matters while Moscow is strongly opposed to Washington's mootedmissile defense shield system.

On Tuesday, Russia signed an agreement with China to build a nuclearreactor. Russia is also building a nuclear reactor in Iran.

Washington insists that its National Missile Defense (NMD) project willnot target either Russia or China, but is designed to counter threats from"rogue states," such as North Korea, Iran or Iraq.

Moscow is pressuring Washington to scrap the anti-missile defense shieldplan, arguing that it would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM)treaty and trigger a new global arms race.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Tuesday that Russia and Chinawill respond if the United States deploys such an anti-missile system.
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2.
Strickland Introduces Bill To Bring Uranium Enrichment Plants BackUnder Government Control
        Office of Ted Strickland
        July 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

In an attempt to prevent layoffs at the Portsmouth Uranium EnrichmentPlant as well as protect the nation’s energy security, Congressman TedStrickland today introduced legislation to direct the government to buyback the United States Enrichment Corporation.

The legislation would create a new, government-owned corporation, theUnited States Enrichment Enterprise, and it would compensate USEC’s investorsand debtors.  Specifically, the bill directs an appointed TransitionManager working with the Department of Energy and the Department of Treasuryto draft a plan to reacquire 100% of USEC’s assets.  The bill thenauthorizes the government to implement the plan.

“In two very short years, USEC’s management has driven our domesticuranium enrichment industry into the ground,” Strickland said.  “Itsstock has plummeted, America’s uranium mines are on the verge of collapse,and nearly two-thousand southern Ohio workers are facing imminent job loss. It’s time for the government to admit that privatization was a mistakeand take steps to re-nationalize this crucial industry.”

Strickland said the stakes are high – for energy security, job securityand national security reasons.

“If USEC fails, or if it gives up the enrichment business and becomesa broker, America will be dependent on foreign sources for 23 percent ofour electricity. Anyone who has driven a car in the last few months knowswhat dependence on foreign sources for energy does to prices.”

“Working families in Kentucky and Ohio were promised that the plantswould stay open until 2005. As we all know, USEC broke its word and announcedthat the Portsmouth plant will close next summer.  My bill will keepthe plants open.  Without government action now, USEC will continueto jeopardize our domestic nuclear fuel industry and a critical nationalsecurity interest.”

“My bill protects and strengthens the USEC-administered agreement tobuy material from Russian nuclear warheads.  This so-called “swords-to-plowshares”arrangement enhances national security by ensuring this material can’tfall into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations. However, because USECthreatened to abandon the agreement last November, many doubt USEC’s commitment. The government should buy the material directly to protect this crucialnational security objective.”
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B. Nuclear Waste

1.
The Cradle Of Death: West Turns A Blind Eye To Russia's NuclearWaste Problems
        David Lowry
        The Guardian
        July 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
Yuri Pirogov, with his gnarled face, looked older than his 62 yearsas he took the podium to talk to nuclear experts at an international conferencediscussing Russia's unsolved nuclear waste problems.

The conference was held as Russia's President Putin and US PresidentClinton prepared to sign a deal that will involve countries of the G8 topindustrial nations funding a huge expansion of nuclear power in Russia,based on plutonium mixed oxide fuel (MOX). Russia wants to build 29 newreactors and consume 33,000kg of former warhead plutonium in its controversialnew atomic programme. But in its anxiety to solve the plutonium problem,the west and Russia are turning a blind eye to past practices and Pirogov'scurrent problems. He had a chilling tale to tell.

All his life, save some time as a military mercenary, Pirogov had livedin the village of Atomanova on the eastern banks of the mighty YeniseiRiver - at nearly 3,500km long, the greatest in Siberia. Atomanova is 5kmdownstream from a vast nuclear complex formerly called Krasnoyarsk-26,now called the Mining Chemical Combine (MCC), at Zhelenzngorsk, one ofthree Sellafield-type nuclear combines in Russia.

Built in 1950, it houses a reprocessing plant, nuclear waste stores,a part-built fast breeder plutonium fuel reactor, called RT-2, and a uniqueplutonium production reactor constructed entirely underground in a vastrock cavern to protect it against US nuclear attack in the Cold War. Zhelenzngorskis one of 10 former Zatos - secret and closed military cities in Russia- now opened up.

Pirigov said that, before 1988, the villagers of Atomanova did not evensuspect that such a nuclear complex existed so close to their homes. Butwhen they noticed large pipes being laid by the far bank of the Yeniseifrom their village, they inquired what was happening. Soon they discoveredthe pipes were for liquid nuclear waste disposal.

Officials from the MCC gave the villagers a briefing about radiationeffects on humans. With curiosity - and no little fear - aroused, the villagersput questions to the local administration, who knew little more than Pirigovand his neighbours.

Angered but undeterred, the villagers petitioned the Krasnoyarsk Krai,the regional territory government responsible for an area 10 times thesize of Britain. Even the professors at the city's university were in thedark about the Zato.

Pirigov said that with the help of Vladimir Mikheev, director of theKrasnoyarsk citizen centre on non-proliferation, the Atomanova villagersfinally discovered the pipes were for chanelling the nuclear waste deepunderground.

In all, the MCC planned to discharge over 25m cubic metres of plutonium-contaminatedwastes deep into the earth. Pirigov was later pestered by the MCC securitypolice, and told: 'You are helping the damned Americans with your fuss.'

On the nearby bank of the Yenisei, young girls would swim in the unusuallywarm water. It became clear to the villagers that the warmth had come fromnuclear discharges at the MCC. As belated compensation, in 1996, Atomanovawas offered 5m roubles to improve the village infrastructure. Two ambulanceswere bought for 520,000 roubles, yet the village failed to benefit fromelectricity generated at the reactors across the river.

In support of Pirigov's claims, Dr Irina Osokina, chief of the endocrinologydepartment at the Insititute for Medical Problems of the North, in Krasnoyarsk,unveiled research demonstrating that plutonium contamination in the areaaround the 'special protection zone' at the MCC was between eight and 17times the measurable plutonium from atmospheric weapons tests.

Radioactive contamination has been found as far as 1,400km downstreamon the Yenisei, which pours nearly 20,000 cubic metres of water per secondinto the Arctic. Expeditions by the Siberian Institute of Biophysics havefound 'hot' radioactive particles in many spots along the Yenisei riverbank,even at a forest campsite. The institute scientists estimate that the ill-fatedcampers would have unknowingly received a year's radiation dose in justthree hours as they had fun in the forest.

The worst radioactive contamination has been found on Gorodskoi island,near Atomanova, close to the radioactive effluent discharge pipe. Othersurveys by the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences havefound contamination on the island, and at the nearby downstream villageof Bolshoi Balchung, up to 1,000 times the caesium-137 discharged in theChernobyl accident in 1986. Hot particles have also been found in the Yeniseiflood plain and at Yeniseik City, nearly 400km north of MCC.

German Kukashin, a former senior nuclear fuel scientist at the MayakChemical Combine nuclear complex, told of a serious accident at researchreactors at the State Scientific Centre Research Insititute of Atomic Reactors,at Dimitrovgrad, in the Ulyanovsk region east of Moscow. Kukashin was latersacked for his attempts to publicise the accident risks.

The Mayak complex is one of the most polluted places on the planet.In 1957, a nuclear waste storage tank exploded, scattering highly toxicwaste over the local villages. They were not evacuated for two weeks, despitethe Soviet atomic authorities knowing people had to be moved within 36hours to ensure protective measures might work.

One village has never been evacuated. Despite being in the centre ofthe danger zone, the 4,500 people of Muslumova have stayed for decadesbecause it is the local railway halt. Every summer children still flockto the village by rail to see their grandparents. In Yekaterinburg, famousfor being the site of the murder in 1919 of the last tsar, Nicholas Romanovand his family, scientists revealed at the public hearings, that by theyears 2020/2030 every second child born to parents in the Chelyabinsk regionwill suffer 'severe genetic deficiencies'. The Soviet authorities are stillnot anxious to discuss these problems as they plough ahead with plans fornew reactors with new fuel.

A former local state duma (parliament) member, Natalia Mironova andlocal Chelyabinsk lawyer, Anna Ilyina, told the Guardian that they werenow pressing for proper compensation for families afflicted by the Mayakaccidents, so far without result.
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C. U.S. – Russia General

1.
Russia's Putin Pleased With G8 Summit
        Reuters
        July 24, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian President Vladimir Putin basked in the success of his weekendsummit with leaders of rich nations on the Japanese island of Okinawa,saying on Monday it had boosted Moscow's international prestige.

Touring Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka peninsula before returning toMoscow, Putin told reporters that Russia achieved what it had expectedto achieve at the summit.

``Without doubt, the results will contribute to increasing the roleand place of Russia in international affairs,'' RIA news agency quotedhim as telling reporters.

``These were the results we expected,'' he said.

Russia's media have reported on the trip, Putin's debut in top-levelmultilateral diplomacy, as a glowing success.

On Sunday one state television station showed pictures of Putin allowinghimself to be thrown during a Judo exhibition on the summit's sidelines-- he holds a black belt in the sport -- and said it was ``Putin's onlyfall on Okinawa.''

Putin has also enjoyed the praise of his colleagues, especially fora briefing he gave them on his trip last week to North Korea, the firstby any Russian or Soviet leader.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Putin's ``confident but notexaggerated performance'' had helped bring about Russia's full integrationwith the rich countries' club.

``That is for me the most prominent result of this summit,'' said Schroeder.
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D. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Cohen Says Missile Defense System Requires Support of Allies
        Christopher Marquis
        New York Times
        July 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The proposed national missile defense system cannot succeed unless theUnited States persuades its NATO allies to drop their opposition, DefenseSecretary William S. Cohen said today.

For the anti-missile shield to protect all 50 states, at a potentialcost of $60 billion, it must rely on radar stations abroad, Mr. Cohen said,most likely in Britain and in Greenland, which is territory of Denmark.

Just weeks before he is to make a recommendation to President Clintonon whether to proceed with the system, Mr. Cohen said that a top prioritymust be to persuade NATO allies to embrace the project. But many of theallies have voiced serious concern that the plan could upset the nuclearbalance or set off a new global arms race.

"In order to have a technologically effective system, we need to havethe support of our allies," Mr. Cohen said. Without x-band radars overseas,he added, "You can't see the missiles coming. Therefore, your interceptorsreally are not worth very much."

Mr. Cohen's remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee were hisfirst since the failure on July 8 of a high-speed missile interceptor todeploy properly. Of the three tests of the intercept system carried outso far, this was the second failure for the weapons system, which relieson a high-tech web of targeting radar, homing sensors and communicationslinks.

Mr. Cohen hinted that the two test failures might slow the entire deploymentprocess. The setbacks "called into question the realism" of having a systemin place by the target date of 2005, but he said the date should remaina goal for a limited shield of 20 interceptors and the x-band radar.

Virtually all the principal American allies in Europe and Asia opposethe missile defense system. They argue that its efficacy is unproven andthat it could undermine the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia,which is a mainstay of global arms control since 1972. These allies alsoworry that the plan could encourage China and some other nations to beefup their limited long-range arsenals.

Mr. Cohen told senators that administration officials are graduallybreaking through that opposition, though no nation has asked to join thesystem, and only Australia has expressed support for it.

The allies share the threat the American system is designed to address,Mr. Cohen said: long-range missile attacks from such nations as North Korea,Iran and Iraq.

If NATO allies embrace the project, he predicted, Russia will feel compelledto drop its opposition to amending the ABM treaty. "Thus far," he said,"I believe the Russians have devoted themselves to trying to divide theallies from supporting the United States."

Mr. Cohen acknowledged that Mr. Clinton has failed to persuade Moscowthat the missile shield would not neutralize Russia's arsenal. The defensesecretary said that President Vladimir V. Putin's proposal to work withNATO on a defense that intercepts missiles in the initial boost phase offlight "cannot be a substitute" for the anti-missile shield and would relyon even less proven technology.

He also said that China will probably increase its intercontinentalmissile capability regardless of whether the United States proceeds onmissile defense.

Mr. Clinton is expected to decide this year whether to break groundon the project. Troubled by Defense Department predictions that North Koreacould develop missiles capable of reaching the United States by 2005, Congresslast year approved a law requiring deployment of a missile defense systemas soon as it was technologically feasible.

"Russia and other nations must understand that the United States policynow calls for an eventual deployment of a system to protect ourselves,"said Sen. John Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Rather than decide on full-scale deployment, Mr. Clinton will limithis decision to whether to begin construction next spring of a radar stationon Shemya island in Alaska, Mr. Cohen said. That would leave it to thenext president to determine the scope of the project, he said. Vice PresidentGore generally supports the Clinton approach, while George W. Bush, theRepublican candidate, favors a more robust system.

Mr. Clinton might leave to his successor the contentious issue of withdrawingfrom the ABM treaty, a move that requires a notice of six months from eitherside. Administration lawyers argue that the United States will not be inviolation of the treaty until crews lay the rails for the radar system,which is not expected until March 2002.

Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who wants to defer the decisionto permit more study, anticipated that debate. "A unilateral decision towithdraw from the ABM Treaty could unleash an offensive arms race and createmajor new proliferation problems," he said.

Mr. Cohen said the administration is determined to deprive hostile nationsof the ability to blackmail the United States with the threat of a missileattack. He downplayed overtures by the North Korean government to negotiateterms to end its long-range missile program and the historic June meetingbetween the leaders of North and South Korea.

Referring to Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Mr. Cohen observed: "One summitdoesn't change the tiger into a domestic cat."
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2.
Putin Deploys Skill On Arms Control
        Baltimore Sun
        July 23, 2000
        (for personal use only)

G-8 meeting: Russian brings reasons for U.S. not to pursue missile defense.

Throughout the Cold War, a main objective of U.S. policy was to dividethe two great Communist powers, the Soviet Union and China. The last thingthat Washington should want now is to allow the old Communist allianceto be revived against this country's interests.

President Vladimir V. Putin made a splashy debut in big power politicsby limning such a revival, traveling to the Group of Eight summit on Okinawavia Beijing and Pyongyang. It was skillfully done.

Mr. Putin agreed with China's President Jiang Zemin that the U.S. nationalmissile defense project undermines strategic stability and provokes anarms race.

He represented North Korea's Kim Jong Il as wanting rockets only toexplore space. He implied that North Korea would for a consideration dropthe missile development that provides Washington's rationale for the nationalmissile defense that Moscow and Beijing find so objectionable.

Thus equipped, Mr. Putin was ready to go one-on-one with President Clintonon Okinawa. Their joint statement afterward suggests that while they didnot come to terms on U.S. national missile defense, they did not allowthat disagreement to disrupt declared cooperation on arms control.

The statement reiterated support for the nuclear nonproliferation treatyand START II and III arms reduction. In discussing theater missile defenseas possibly including other states, which would seem to mean Taiwan, theyappeared to drive a wedge between Russia and China.

The probing of Mr. Putin's intentions must be carried on by Mr. Clinton'ssuccessor. North Korea's reported vague offer must be explored for precisemeaning.

If Mr. Putin is manipulating Kim Jong Il to allow the administrationto find that the need for national missile defense no longer exists, somuch the better -- providing there is verification.

No matter what candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush say, a good possibilityexists that the election winner will, within a year, cooperate with Mr.Putin on arms control, on a basis laid down by Mr. Putin and Mr. Clintonin Okinawa.
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E. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Moscow Planning 30 New Nuclear Plants Over Next 30 Years
        RFE/RL
        July 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

In an interview with German national radio cited by "Die Welt" of 25July, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov announced that overthe next 30 years, Moscow is planning to replace its old nuclear plantsand add some 30 new plants to the network. The percentage of Russia's totalelectricity supplies provided by the nuclear sector would thereby risefrom 14 percent to 33 percent, he noted. The modernization of Russia'sexisting reactors, the working life of most of which is due to expire in2005, depends on electricity consumers' paying their bills on time, Adamovstressed. The minister also said that Russia's first floating power planthas already left port, following the cabinet's approval of that projectin May. Environmentalists have expressed concern that the Far North willbe at risk from these floating platforms, noting that several securityquestions have yet to be resolved.
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2.
Siberia-Environment: Plans to Build More Nuclear Plants AssailedInter Press Service
        Inter Press Service
        July 23, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Young environmentalist Alexei Toropov says he is dedicating his lifeto fighting for the safe clean-up of radioactive waste in one of the world'slargest nuclear -- and arguably the most contaminated -- complexes, nearhis hometown of Tomsk, in Western Siberia.

So when he discovered that the government was planning to build yetanother nuclear reactor nearby, for the sole purpose of heating water inhis city and surrounding towns, he quickly fought back, arguing that Russiashould instead make use of the country's abundant natural gas reserves.

But when he found out that a neighboring Russian state of Altay wasplanning to sell most of its supply of clean-burning natural gas to China,instead of for use domestically, he said he could only shake his head indisbelief.

"We already have the largest nuclear waste storage site in the world,"he said in a recent interview. "Russia should use this gas in Russia asan alternative to building more unsafe nuclear plants."

Toropov lives just 16 kilometers south of the gated city of Seversk,formerly called Tomsk 7, which was part of the nuclear archipelago of tensecret weapons research and production centers of the former Soviet Union.

The nuclear complex, now called the Siberian Chemical Complex, includestwo working reactors (and several rusting relics), a uranium-enrichmentplant and a reprocessing facility.

It also contains the world's biggest underground storage site for nuclearwaste, into which highly radioactive waste from the reprocessing facilityis still being pumped. A chemical plant at which warhead components wereonce made, using plutonium, also operates on the premises.

According to Toropov, the 40-year-old plutonium-producing reactors arethe most immediate problem. The two reactors are graphite-moderated andwater-cooled, precursors of the design used at Chernobyl. Enormous stacksof graphite blocks surround vertical rods containing fuel. There are nocontainment vessels, no emergency core-cooling systems, he says.

"It was the design from which the Russians learned the lessons theysubsequently incorporated in Chernobyl," notes Matthew Bunn of HarvardUniversity, as quoted in the Economist magazine.

The graphite is now swelling and cracking as a result of years of irradiationwhich creates the risk of another Chernobyl, says Toropov. If the rodsor tubes in the core begin to buckle, engineers cannot control the speedof the reaction by withdrawing the fuel rods, he argues.

In 1993, there was an accident at the reprocessing plant in Severskwhich contaminated three villages to the northeast. A cloud of about 400micro roentgens per hour of gamma radiation was released into the air.To put t his amount in perspective, the plant, by law, is supposed to alertthe public if there is a constant release of 60 micro roentgens per hour.

Fortunately, says Toropov, the wind that day was blowing away from Tomskwhere about half a million people live.

While officials deny that any harm was caused, villagers continue tocomplain of high levels of illness. New cases of thyroid cancer in theTomsk region have risen sharply. In the early 1980s, there were three orfour new cases each year; in the second half of the 1990s, more than 50.

A recent study by scientists in Moscow found that men living near theplant had drastically low sperm counts.

Since 1993, there have been four other smaller accidents, says Toropovwho said he learned of these toxic releases through scientists workingin the plant who leaked the information to him.

Toropov, 22, like about 40 other young environmentalists throughoutSiberia, travelled here this month to Irkutsk to participate in a two-weekenvironmental monitoring training program. While here, he has shared hisnuclear monitoring project of the Tomsk Ecological Student Inspection (TESI),an environmental organization.

On a recent radiation inspection near the plant, TESI found that a migratoryduck swimming in nearby Black Lake, contained 2,100 micro roentgens perhour.

"If a person ate this duck, it would be pretty likely that they woulddie of cancer in a few years," he said, adding that the bird has been knownto migrate as far as India to avoid the icy Siberian winters.

TESI has also reported mutations in the vegetation surrounding the "bufferzone" around the complex.

"People from Seversk continue to fish in Black Lake and pick berriesand mushrooms near the plant even though there are signs saying not todo so in the area," says Toropov.

In 1994, Vice-President Al Gore signed an agreement with Viktor Chernomyrdin,then Russia's prime minister, to eventually close down the old reactorsin Seversk.

In order to provide needed heat to the cities and towns in the coldSiberian region, the government, in 1996, proposed building a new nuclearpower plant, known as AST 500. The enabling law required a public hearingon the project, but Toropov says that people in Tomsk only found out aboutthe event a few days before they had to register for the hearing, whichwas held this past January.

Dozens of present and former workers at the nuclear complex, who livein Seversk, came out to support the project. While members of TESI spokeout against the plant, saying they favored exploiting Russia's gas reservesinstead, local media reported that the public strongly supported AST 500.

"We didn't have any time to prepare, (for the hearing)," Toropov says.He is now calling for a new public hearing to be held in Tomsk about theproposal. But he worries that the authorities will approve the plant beforea new hearing is conducted.

Besides robbing the Tomsk region of an alternative to nuclear energy,Toropov argues that the plan to ship natural gas to China also threatenswildlife since it will require the construction of a pipeline through theUkok Plateau in the Altay Mountains, named a UNESCO World Heritage Sitein 1998.

Home to the few remaining snow leopards in Siberia, the plateau is knownfor its rich iodiversity and ancient archaeological sites.

"Right now there are no pipelines, major roads or train lines that traversethe region like the proposed pipeline would," he says.

Toropov says Tomsk would have less need for new energy if authoritiesconcentrated more on improving the energy efficiency in the region.

In 1994 a study found that 55 percent of the heat produced in frostyTomsk was wasted. Russian buildings leak energy like sieves: they use 425kilowatt-hours per square meter a year, compared with 135 in Sweden and120 in the Unite d States.

In Tomsk, the potential for heat loss is even worse, argues Toropov.The pipes that currently carry fuel around the district's heating networkfrom the nuclear plants to Seversk and Tomsk are completely un-insulated.
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