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Production of Weapon-Grade Plutonium To Cease by 2000

ITAR-TASS 27 Nov 95
[By Veronika Romanenkova]

MOSCOW, November 27 (ITAR- TASS) -- The Russian Minister of Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhaylov, said on Monday that Russia will halt production of weapon-grade plutonium before the end of the century. Mikhaylov told ITAR-TASS that "Russia will undoubtedly cease producing weapon-grade plutonium by the year 2000." The last three "military" reactors in Tomsk-7 and Krasnoyarsk-26 are to be converted for peaceful purposes. During the first stage, the active section of the Tomsk-7 reactor is to be modernised so that it can provide the heating to the city as an ordinary 500 megawatt nuclear power plant. Then, it will replaced by a new light water VVER-640 reactor. The ministry is also considering the construction of a high-temperature, helium reactor "to burn down" weapon-grade plutonium, Mikhaylov said. As to Krasnoyrsk-26, a 350 megawatt boiling water reactor will be built there by the year 2000. For the time being, similar reactors are used strictly for scientific purposes. However, the Krasnoyarsk one will be safer and more powerful.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of an international exhibition devoted to the state-of-the-art nuclear technologies on Monday, Mikhailov said that these projects designed for the next century will make nuclear power engineering safer and environment-friendly. Russia has come up with two new types of VVER-640 and modernised VVER-1,000 reactors. The first one is to be put into operation at the Leningrad nuclear power plant within three or four years. The service life of a VVER-640 will be up to 60 years instead of usual 30. Its safety system guarantees rapid cooling in case of emergency. A VVER-1000 will produces nearly half the amount of nuclear wastes compared with an ordinary reactor. Two new VVER-1,000 reactors are to be installed at the Novovoronezhskaya atomic power station between 2003 and 2005.

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