The British government has awarded BNFL funding of about $800 000 to help improve the management of nuclear material at Russia’s Mayak reprocessing plant in the Urals whose RT-1 facility reprocesses fast reactor, LWR and submarine fuels. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) funded much of the early work under its Safeguards Support Programme. The US has also been helping to improve physical security at nuclear facilities including Mayak, as part of a large US DOE initiative to tackle nuclear proliferation concerns.

BNFL first met the DTI, Mayak and the DOE in London in February to agree in principle to a trilateral co-operation with the intention of a “fast track” implementation over the next two years. BNFL Instruments has already done significant work on nuclear material control accountancy at Mayak and are well positioned to bid for major instrument upgrades. The outcome of the work will be to increase nuclear material control at Mayak to international standards and so allow the plant to continue reprocessing – essential if Russia is to deal with the growing problem of redundant nuclear submarines. Brian Burrows, of BNFL’s International Safeguards Department at Risley, helped set up the Company’s work on the project. He said: “BNFL is keen to see matters moving forward and collaboration with the US will provide a sound basis for a co-ordinated international effort to improve this major Russian plant.