Progress on plutonium reactors

3 September 2003

Russia and the USA have signed an agreement that gives the USA access to two "closed" cities. The cities, formerly known as Tomsk-7 and Krasnoyarsk-26, are the site of Russia's last three operating plutonium production reactors.
Under a series of US-Russian arms control treaties, the USA halted its own weapons production of plutonium in the late 1980s. The Russians shut down 10 plutonium-producing plants, but continued operating the Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk units because they were essential for heat and power supplies to the cities. Reprocessing of the spent uranium fuel continues due to the prohibitive cost of spent fuel storage. A 1997 agreement called for the closure of the three reactors by 2000, but replacement capacity is now not expected to come online until 2008-2011.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the USA will spend around $500 million on two new fossil-fuelled plants. In May, the US Department of Energy announced that Washington Group International and Raytheon Technical Services would be the main contractors for the project.

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