Kurchatov starts waste removal

3 April 2002

Russia's Kurchatov Institute scientific centre in Moscow together with the Radon Scientific Production Enterprise will soon start removing the some 2000t of radioactive waste buried at a special site on the territory of the Institute. The waste was buried at the site from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s and is mainly the legacy from the initial stage of the nuclear weapons programmes. It contains an estimated 100,000 Curies of radiation, according to Radon.

The Kurchatov Institute comprises 28 research units and seven active reactors. The waste situation has become serious over recent years in face of the economic constraints now placed on scientific centres in Russia.

Vadim Dikarev, head of the department for nuclear safety said the situation has become critical "because we don't have means or funds of our own to solve this problem". Vladimir Kuznetsov, director of the Russian Green Cross programme for nuclear and radiation safety, explained that the Kurchatov Institute is a staging post which accepts radioactive waste from all nuclear facilities in Moscow. He estimated the cumulative radioactivity of the waste at 20 million Curies. The institute's spent fuel poses a problem as it is not capable of being reprocessed with present technology.

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