Warnings of possible Chernobyl-type Catastrophe and cost over-runs, Russia decides to shut down military nuclear reactors

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Prior to CDC, concerns were raised about possible y2k related problems at Russia's nuclear power plants

Feb 12, 2000 - 11:41 PM

Report: Russia Decides to Shut Down Military Nuclear Reactors

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Russian government has told U.S. officials it wants to abandon a joint project to convert military atomic reactors to civilian use and shut them down instead, The Washington Post reported in Sunday editions.

An agreement reached in 1997 committed Russia to halting production of weapons-grade plutonium by the end of this year, removing enough material for nearly 400 new nuclear weapons each year.

The United States was to help pay for the project, estimated to cost about $80 million.

But the Post said Russian officials informed a U.S. delegation last week that cost overruns and warnings of a possible Chernobyl-type catastrophe had prompted them to shut down the remaining military reactors rather than convert them to civilian use.

Energy needs for cities where the reactors are located would be provided by conventional sources at a cost of about $230 million, most of which the Russians want paid by the United States.

The Post said the Clinton administration is studying the new proposal, although it has expressed skepticism about the projected cost.

Independent U.S. experts welcomed the shift, however, largely because of problems and delay with the conversion program, the newspaper said.

"This is a project that was very well intentioned but has been bungled in implementation to the point where killing it might be the best thing for nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear safety," Alan Kuperman, a consultant with the Nuclear Control Institute, a private think tank, told the Post.

In a related matter, the Energy Department unveiled a new $100 million plan last week to construct storage plants for spent fuel from existing Russian civilian reactors that would otherwise be converted into plutonium.



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 13, 2000

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