General Accounting Office
Index


Nuclear Safety: Concerns with Nuclear Facilities and Other Sources of
Radiation in the Former Soviet Union (Letter Report, 11/07/95,
GAO/RCED-96-4).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on U.S.
and international efforts to address nuclear safety and environmental
problems in the former Soviet Union.

GAO found that: (1) the former Soviet Union has at least 221 nuclear
facilities operating, 99 of which are located in Russia; (2) as many as
20,000 organizations throughout the former Soviet Union are using
various types of radiation for medicine, industry, and research; (3)
aging facilities and equipment, inadequate technology, a lack of
commitment to safety, the absence of independent nuclear regulatory
bodies, and a lack of funding are contributing to unsafe conditions in
the former Soviet Union; (4) efforts are under way to study the
radiological effects of operating nuclear facilities and nuclear-powered
submarines; and (6) the United States has committed $55 million to
support programs focusing on the environmental and health effects caused
by the production of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  RCED-96-4
     TITLE:  Nuclear Safety: Concerns with Nuclear Facilities and Other 
             Sources of Radiation in the Former Soviet Union
      DATE:  11/07/95
   SUBJECT:  Nuclear radiation monitoring
             International cooperation
             Radiation safety
             Nuclear facility safety
             Safety standards
             International agreements
             Radioactive wastes
             Nuclear powered submarines
IDENTIFIER:  Soviet Union
             Russia
             European Union
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to the Honorable
Bob Graham, U.S.  Senate

November 1995

NUCLEAR SAFETY - CONCERNS WITH
NUCLEAR FACILITIES AND OTHER
SOURCES OF RADIATION IN THE FORMER
SOVIET UNION

GAO/RCED-96-4

Nuclear Safety

(170258)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  DOD - Department of Defense
  DOE - Department of Energy
  EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
  GAN - Gosatomnadzor
  IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency
  MINATOM - Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy
  NRC - Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  OECD - Organization for Economic Cooperation and
  Development
  PNL - Pacific Northwest Laboratory
  TDA - Trade and Development Agency

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-261612

November 7, 1995

The Honorable Bob Graham
United States Senate

Dear Senator Graham: 

While the safety problems of the 58 Soviet-designed civil nuclear
power reactors operating in the former Soviet Union and central and
eastern Europe have received considerable international attention and
assistance, many other nuclear facilities and other sources of
radiation in the former Soviet Union also pose safety, health, and
environmental concerns.  For example, a 1993 accident at a plutonium
reprocessing plant in Russia underscored the safety problems
associated with these types of facilities. 

This report responds to your request that we provide information on
(1) nuclear facilities (other than civil nuclear power reactors),
nuclear-powered vessels, and other sources of radiation in the former
Soviet Union; (2) the views of U.S.  and international experts on the
safety of these facilities and other sources of radiation; and (3)
U.S.  and international efforts to address nuclear safety and
environmental problems associated with these facilities and other
sources of radiation.  A forthcoming GAO report will address U.S. 
assistance to improve methods of safeguarding nuclear material at
facilities in the former Soviet Union. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

According to available information, the countries of the former
Soviet Union\1 have at least 221 operating nuclear facilities, not
including civil nuclear power reactors.  Ninety-nine of these
facilities are located in Russia and include facilities involved in
plutonium production and processing as well as weapons design and
production.  Russia also has a fleet of nuclear-powered vessels,
including 228 submarines.  In addition, according to the Department
of Defense (D0D), as many as 10,000 to 20,000 organizations
throughout the former Soviet Union may be using different types of
radiation sources for medicine, industry, and research. 

Nuclear safety experts, including Russian officials, are concerned
about the safety of certain nuclear facilities and the potential for
accidents, particularly at facilities for producing or reprocessing
plutonium and at some sites for decommissioning nuclear submarines. 
The following five major factors contribute to unsafe conditions in
the former Soviet Union:  (1) aging facilities and equipment and
inadequate technology; (2) the lack of awareness of and commitment to
the importance of safety; (3) the long-standing emphasis on
production over safety; (4) the absence of independent and effective
nuclear regulatory bodies; and (5) the lack of funds for safety
improvements.  To better understand the overall safety conditions,
Department of Energy (DOE) officials said they need increased access
to Russian facilities. 

Nuclear safety experts cited the radiological contamination generated
by past and continued operation of nuclear weapons operations in the
former Soviet Union as a current safety and environmental concern. 
For example, over many years, nuclear waste from three large sites in
Russia that produced plutonium had been discharged directly into
surrounding lakes and rivers.  Currently, radioactive waste is being
injected into the ground and continues to be stored improperly.  In
addition, Russia's history of dumping liquid and solid radioactive
waste from nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers into the Arctic
seas\2 and the Sea of Japan has raised concerns about the long-term
environmental effects of this practice. 

Although most U.S.  and international assistance is aimed at
improving the safety of Soviet-designed civil nuclear power reactors,
efforts are under way to study the radiological effects from
operating nuclear facilities and nuclear-powered submarines,
including their decommissioning.  As of August 1995, the United
States had committed approximately $55 million to support various
programs that focus primarily on the environmental and health effects
caused by the long-term production of nuclear weapons in the former
Soviet Union.  These programs are administered by DOD's Office of
Naval Research, DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Trade and Development
Agency (TDA).  The largest program is a $30 million effort to study
the impact of nuclear contamination in the Arctic seas. 


--------------------
\1 For purposes of this report, the countries making up the former
Soviet Union are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian
Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. 

\2 The Arctic seas include, but are not limited to, the Barents and
the Kara seas. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Beginning in the 1940s, the Soviet Union undertook a massive program
to produce nuclear weapons.  To support this program, a network of
facilities was built, with most of the major ones located in Russia. 
Ten closed, or "secret," cities were built to house workers at the
major sites.  In the quest to produce nuclear weapons, the health and
safety of workers--as well as the environmental impact of
production--were not adequately considered.  As the threat of nuclear
confrontation has receded, the long-term consequences of the Soviet's
nuclear program are being examined more closely by international
environmental and health experts.  Since the breakup of the Soviet
Union, information about many of the facilities, including levels of
safety and environmental contamination, is becoming publicly
available. 


   NUCLEAR FACILITIES AND
   RADIATION SOURCES IN THE FORMER
   SOVIET UNION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

At least 221 nuclear facilities--other than civil nuclear power
reactors--operate in the former Soviet Union.\3 (App.  I lists the
types of major facilities we identified and their locations.) These
facilities cover a range of activities, such as (1) mining, milling,
and processing uranium ore; (2) producing enriched uranium; (3)
producing and processing nuclear materials and nuclear fuel; (4)
assembling nuclear weapons; and (5) disposing of and storing nuclear
waste. 

The largest number of operating nuclear facilities are in Russia.  Of
the 221 facilities identified, 99 (or about 45 percent) are in
Russia, including all of the Soviet Union's facilities to produce or
reprocess plutonium.  In addition, Russia maintains all of the
facilities of the former Soviet Union that were used to design or
assemble nuclear weapons.  Russia also operates 31 of the 48
research, training, and experimental reactors.  (See app.  II for a
list of research reactors in the former Soviet Union.)

Most of the other countries of the former Soviet Union have nuclear
facilities.  For example, Kazakhstan operates a significant number of
facilities, including five research reactors, one fuel fabrication
plant, and at least 22 mining sites.  It also contains what was a
major nuclear testing area, Semipalatinsk, which closed in 1991. 
Ukraine has a large concentration of nuclear facilities, including
research reactors and waste storage and disposal facilities.  Uranium
mining, milling, and ore processing is concentrated around the
central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, and
Tajikistan.  These four republics and Ukraine have about 87 percent
of the former Soviet Union's 78 mining, milling, and ore-processing
sites. 

In addition to the 221 operating nuclear facilities, Russia also has
a fleet of nuclear-powered vessels, including 228 submarines, 7
icebreakers, and 1 transport ship.  According to DOD, between 10,000
and 20,000 organizations in the former Soviet Union use different
types of radiation sources in medicine, industry, and research. 
Figure 1 shows the distribution of the nuclear facilities discussed
in this report. 

   Figure 1:  Nuclear Facilities
   Other Than Civil Nuclear Power
   Plants Operating in the Former
   Soviet Union

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Note:  The number of nuclear
   facilities shown by country
   includes uranium mining,
   milling, and ore-processing
   sites; waste processing,
   storage, and disposal sites;
   research, experimental, and
   training reactors; fuel
   fabrication, weapon assembly,
   weapon design laboratories; and
   uranium enrichment plants.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


--------------------
\3 We obtained this information from various U.S.  government
agencies and international organizations, such as the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 


   CONCERNS ABOUT THE SAFETY OF
   RUSSIA'S PLUTONIUM PRODUCTION
   REACTORS AND REPROCESSING
   FACILITIES
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

DOE, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and European Union
officials, as well as other nuclear safety experts, told us that
certain nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union, particularly
those that are part of the weapons complex, present safety risks. 
During our discussions with these experts, the following five factors
emerged as the main contributors to unsafe conditions:  (1) lack of
technology as well as aging facilities and equipment, (2) the lack of
awareness and commitment to the importance of safety, (3) the
long-standing emphasis on production over safety, (4) the absence of
independent and effective nuclear regulatory bodies, and (5) the lack
of funds to improve safety. 

Several officials from DOE's national laboratories and nuclear
weapons facilities noted similarities between aging U.S.  and former
Soviet Union plutonium production and reprocessing facilities.  In
1988, we reported that aging and deteriorating U.S.  facilities
resulted in safety and/or operational problems.\4 DOE officials noted
that while all of the U.S.  plutonium production and reprocessing
facilities have been closed, some of the former Soviet Union's aging
facilities continue to operate. 

DOE, IAEA, and European Union officials--as well as Russian
officials--expressed concern about the safety of plutonium production
reactors and associated reprocessing facilities at Krasnoyarsk,
Tomsk, and Chelyabinsk.  Two operating production reactors are
located at Tomsk, and one is at Krasnoyarsk.  Prior to 1987, 13
plutonium production reactors operated at these three sites.  Ten of
the reactors have been shut down.  In 1994, Russia announced that it
was no longer fully processing weapons grade plutonium at these sites
and the plutonium was being placed in storage.  The three remaining
reactors continue to operate, however, and supply heat and
electricity to nearby cities.\5 Although Chelyabinsk's production
reactors were shut down several years ago, the site remains a major
reprocessing center for spent fuel from civil nuclear power reactors
and nuclear-powered submarines.  While Russia plans to significantly
expand its reprocessing capabilities at Krasnoyarsk, the project has
stalled because of a lack of funding. 


--------------------
\4 Nuclear Health and Safety:  Dealing With Problems in the Nuclear
Defense Complex Expected to Cost Over $100 Billion
(GAO/RCED-88-197BR, July 6, 1988). 

\5 The United States operated a similar reactor at the Hanford site
in Richland, Washington.  The reactor was shut down in 1987.  (See
app.  III for a comparison of U.S.  and former Soviet Union nuclear
weapons facilities.)


      RUSSIA'S PLUTONIUM
      PRODUCTION REACTORS AND
      REPROCESSING PLANTS RAISE
      CONCERNS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.1

Russia's three operating plutonium production reactors are over 30
years old and share design characteristics with Chernobyl-style
reactors, including the lack of a containment structure.  However,
the Krasnoyarsk reactor is located underground thereby reducing the
potential release of radioactive material to the environment.  Russia
has denied DOE officials permission to visit the operating reactors
at Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk because of their military sensitivity. 
Although detailed safety analyses are not available to DOE officials,
they believe the reactors have safety problems because of their
design and age.  According to a 1994 study conducted by Pacific
Northwest Laboratory (PNL), the reactors were designed and operated
without the benefit of safety improvements made at other nuclear
facilities.\6 An official from Russia's Gosatomnadzor (GAN), the
agency responsible for safety at nuclear fuel cycle facilities,
including plutonium production reactors, told us that the reactors
need extensive upgrades to continue long-term operations and are
"unreliable." Furthermore, he noted that a small incident at one of
these reactors could have "disastrous consequences." In June 1994,
Russia agreed with the United States to shut down the three remaining
production reactors not later than the year 2000.  Because the
reactors will not be closed until an alternative source of energy is
available, the United States has agreed to help Russia evaluate
various alternatives. 

DOE, IAEA, and European Union officials told us that Russia's
reprocessing facilities present safety concerns.  Reprocessing
involves the use of chemical processes to separate uranium and
plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.  Under certain conditions, the
chemical solutions can cause an explosion.  DOE officials obtained
first-hand information about the conditions at Russia's reprocessing
facilities after an accident at the Tomsk plant, which occurred in
April 1993.  In June 1993, DOE officials visited Tomsk to investigate
the accident.  Although they were not permitted to view the chemical
tank that had exploded, they did see other parts of the facility. 
Several operational errors, such as improper mixing of chemicals in
the reprocessing tank, and possible design flaws, such as inadequate
tank ventilation, were identified as contributors to the accident.\7

According to DOE officials, inadequate safety awareness at nuclear
facilities in the former Soviet Union affects operational safety
levels and increases the risks for accidents.  DOE officials who
visited Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk within the past 2 years in conjunction
with a U.S.-Russian exchange program on reprocessing observed that
the Russian safety practices were generally not comparable to U.S. 
practices.  Despite their recent visits to Russian facilities, DOE
officials said that they needed increased access to them--as well as
more opportunities to discuss safety issues with their
counterparts--to obtain a better understanding of the overall safety
environment.  A PNL official noted that access to and information
about Russian facilities are improving.  For example, he said that a
U.S.  team planned to visit the operating reactors at Tomsk and
Krasnoyarsk in September 1995. 

According to an official from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy
(MINATOM), Russia's reprocessing facilities have many safety
problems.  MINATOM is responsible for most nuclear-related activities
in Russia, including the weapons production complex and electricity
generated by nuclear power.  This official noted that since the
breakup of the Soviet Union, the discipline of operators at these
facilities has significantly deteriorated.  He also said that the
Soviet-era emphasis on meeting production goals rather than
maintaining safety had hampered efforts to improve safety, which was
better at other nuclear facilities, such as research institutes and
design laboratories.  An official from Russia's nuclear regulatory
body told us that although safety is becoming more important at
Russian facilities, it is difficult to undo problems created many
years ago. 

According to NRC, although GAN is Russia's nuclear regulatory agency,
it does not have the legal authority--backed by national
legislation--to exercise strong and independent oversight; nor has it
been adequately funded to carry out its mission.  According to
information furnished by DOE, although a 1992 Russian presidential
decree gave GAN the overall responsibility for inspecting and
licensing activities that involve handling radioactive material, its
inspectors are not empowered to enforce compliance.  The head of
GAN's nuclear fuel cycle enterprises, which are responsible for the
safety of production reactors and reprocessing plants, told us that
his agency's regulatory authority is limited.  He noted that although
some safety changes were made, many recommendations GAN made after
the Tomsk accident have been ignored.  A 1994 Russian report noted
that GAN had a skeletal staff supervising safety--only 22 percent of
the authorized slots were filled--at nuclear weapons facilities. 
Furthermore, this report said that GAN was unable to carry out its
responsibilities because the Russian Ministry of Defense had created
obstacles to prevent inspections at nuclear defense facilities. 

DOE officials who have visited Russian nuclear facilities told us
that accidents at nuclear facilities in the former Soviet
Union--other than civil nuclear power reactors--would not be of the
magnitude of the Chernobyl accident.  Most of the accidents that have
been reported at these facilities did not have widespread
radiological consequences.\8 For example, while the 1993 accident at
the Tomsk reprocessing facility caused substantial damage to the
facility, it contaminated a largely unpopulated area of about 123
square kilometers.  The accident released a relatively small amount
of contamination--about 40 curies--compared to approximately 50
million curies released after the Chernobyl accident.\9 The Tomsk
accident could have had more serious local consequences if the wind
had carried the contamination to two large nearby cities.  According
to available information, most accidents and incidents--at facilities
other than civil nuclear power reactors--have occurred at
reprocessing plants in Russia.  More than one-half of these accidents
occurred from the 1950s through the 1970s.  (See app.  IV for more
details about accidents at facilities in the former Soviet Union.)


--------------------
\6 D.  Newman, C.  Gesh, and E.  Love, PNL, Summary of Near-Term
Options for Russian Plutonium Production Reactors (July 1994). 

\7 According to DOE, two similar but smaller accidents occurred at
U.S.  facilities in the 1950s and 1970s.  Detailed information about
the Tomsk accident is contained in two DOE reports:  Trip Report
Moscow and Tomsk, Russia, June 19-29, 1993, Follow-Up to the Tomsk-7
Accident (Sept.  1993) and Joint United States/Russian Federation
Meeting on Radiochemical Processing Safety (Sept.  1993). 

\8 One notable exception occurred in 1957 when a storage tank for
high-level radioactive waste exploded at Chelyabinsk.  This
explosion, and its aftermath, known as the "Kyshtym Disaster," caused
widespread radiation contamination.  According to a 1991 PNL report,
the total area of contamination was 23,000 square kilometers. 

\9 A curie is a measure of the intensity of radioactive material. 


      WASTE FROM FACILITIES
      CONTAMINATES THE ENVIRONMENT
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.2

The environmental contamination caused by past and current practices
at nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union, especially Russia,
is a more immediate concern than potential accidents.  These
facilities have generated massive amounts of nuclear waste and
contamination that have created environmental problems.  The possible
migration of this contamination may also pose some risks to
neighboring countries.  For example, within the past few years there
has been scientific and congressional concern that Alaska could be
affected by this contamination. 

The majority of nuclear waste contamination is concentrated in
Russia.  Three plutonium production and reprocessing sites have been
identified as the major sources of nuclear waste contamination from
years of improper disposal practices.  According to a June 1995
analysis prepared by a PNL scientist, the current level of discharge
of radioactive material to the environment at these three sites is
approximately 600 times greater than the remaining contamination from
various other nuclear sources in Russia combined.\10 This analysis
also notes that the current radioactive inventory released from the
nuclear weapons complex in Russia is approximately 1.7 billion
curies, compared to about 2.6 million curies released by the U.S. 
nuclear weapons complex. 

Soviet-era nuclear waste practices have left a lasting imprint on
Russia's environment.  For example, starting in the late 1940s,
radioactive waste from the Chelyabinsk facilities was released
directly into the Techa River and nearby lakes, buried at the site,
and stored in tanks.  According to DOE, although the direct discharge
of radioactive waste into rivers and lakes was curtailed many years
ago, the cumulative effect has left some areas uninhabitable.  As the
contamination migrates, it threatens the groundwater supplies and
waterways that flow into the Arctic Ocean.  As a result of releases
from Chelyabinsk, about 18,000 people were relocated and more than
440,000 people received an elevated dose of radiation.  Beginning in
the 1960s, the Soviet Union began to inject liquid radioactive waste
into deep underground wells, a practice that has been used
extensively at both Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk. 

Radioactive waste from other facilities and activities throughout the
former Soviet Union have caused contamination problems.  For example,
Kazakhstan's Semipalatinsk and Russia's Novaya Zemlya test sites for
nuclear weapons were used by the Soviets for approximately 40 years. 
Estonia has radioactivity problems resulting from Soviet nuclear
submarine training reactors that operated at Paldiski.  Uranium
tailings--radioactive particles and other hazardous
materials--resulting from mining, milling, and ore processing have
caused contamination in several republics of the former Soviet Union. 


--------------------
\10 Don J.  Bradley, PNL, Overview of Contamination From U.S.  and
Russian Nuclear Complexes, presented at the NATO Advanced Research
Workshop on Nuclear Submarine Decommissioning and Related Problems,
Moscow, Russia (June 1995). 


      NUCLEAR-POWERED SUBMARINES
      AND SHIPS ARE SOURCES OF
      RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.3

Environmental concerns resulting from Russia's nuclear fleets have
received increased international attention in recent years.  The
primary source of concern is radioactive contamination from Russia's
nuclear submarines and nuclear-powered civilian icebreakers.  Most of
the concerns stem from four main sources:  (1) the dumping of damaged
submarine and icebreaker reactors into the Kara Sea, (2) submarine
accidents, (3) the dumping of liquid and solid radioactive waste from
the Russian fleets into the Kara and Barents seas and the Sea of
Japan, and (4) the inadequate treatment of and storage capacity for
fuel from nuclear-powered vessels. 

In 1993, the Russian government released a report describing over
three decades of Soviet-era dumping of radioactive material in the
ocean.\11 The report noted that during this time, the former Soviet
Union dumped 2 reactor compartments without spent nuclear fuel into
the Sea of Japan and 16 reactors into the Kara Sea, 6 of which
contained spent or damaged fuel. 

The report also cited submarine accidents as a source of radioactive
contamination.  In August 1985, a submarine accident at a shipyard
near Vladivostok released significant amounts of radioactive
material.  In 1989, the submarine, Komsomolets, sank approximately
300 miles from Norway after a fire disabled the vessel.  Although the
submarine had nuclear fuel in its reactor and nuclear warheads on
board when it sank, Russian and international expeditions have not
found evidence of substantial contamination around the sunken vessel. 

Because Russia does not have adequate treatment and storage
facilities for radioactive waste, it has not signed a 1993 amendment
to Annex I, section 6, of the London Convention.\12 This amendment
prohibits the dumping of all radioactive waste or other radioactive
matter, including low-level liquid waste, into the seas.  In
September 1994, Russia announced that it intended to continue to
voluntarily comply with the ban on low-level liquid waste dumping. 
However, according to several U.S., international, and Russian
reports, Russia has a severe shortage of adequate waste storage and
disposal facilities for liquid waste as well as for spent fuel
assemblies and decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines.  An EPA
official who recently visited Russia told us that Russian naval
officials believe the decommissioned submarines pose an increasingly
significant safety hazard. 

The international community, including the United States, has
conducted several studies to assess the impact of Russia's nuclear
waste disposal practices on neighboring waterways, including the
Arctic seas.  Although these studies have not indicated significant
contamination around the dump sites, they have not ruled out future
problems.  In a January 1995 report, the Office of Naval Research
stated that nuclear waste in the Arctic and North Pacific regions
poses no immediate threat to Alaskan citizens or its resources.\13
According to an EPA official, there is reason to believe that the
high-level radioactive material associated with the dumped reactors
has yet to be released.  Because this radioactive waste may start to
enter the marine environment within a few years, the effects of this
future contamination is uncertain. 


--------------------
\11 Report by the Russian Government Commission on Matters Related to
Radioactive Waste Disposal at Sea, Facts and Problems Related to
Radioactive Waste Disposal in Seas Adjacent to the Territory of the
Russian Federation (Mar.  1993).  This report is more commonly
referred to as the "Yablokov Report."

\12 This convention had formerly been known as the Convention on the
Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter. 

\13 Office of Naval Research, Department of Defense Arctic Nuclear
Waste Assessment Program, Fiscal Years 1993-94 (Jan.  1995). 


      INADEQUATE CONTROL OF OTHER
      RADIATION SOURCES POSES
      THREATS OF RADIATION
      EXPOSURE AND CONTAMINATION
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :4.4

Some officials, including the Nuclear Safety Attache to the U.S. 
Mission (in Vienna, Austria) and IAEA's Deputy Director, Division of
Nuclear Safety, have expressed concerns to us about the inadequate
control of radiation sources used in medicine, agriculture, research,
and industry throughout the former Soviet Union.  In May 1993,
similar concerns were noted by several representatives from the
former Soviet Union who were attending an IAEA forum on strengthening
radiation protection and nuclear safety.  The small size,
portability, and value of these sources make them susceptible to
misuse, improper disposal, or theft. 

Countries of the former Soviet Union have not established adequate
systems to register, control, monitor, or account for radiation
sources.  These sources had been loosely controlled under the Soviet
Union, but with its dissolution, the loss of centralized authority
has left the new republics without adequate legal and regulatory
structures.  Representatives of some former Soviet Union republics
have voiced concerns about the need to bring radiation sources under
control, and some have admitted they do not know how many are still
in use within their countries. 

Without an adequate control system, radiation sources may be lost,
abandoned, stolen, or improperly disposed of, thereby creating the
potential for human radiation exposure and localized environmental
contamination.  Numerous incidents involving the exposure of persons
and contamination of areas have occurred over the past several years. 
For example, in 1994 a stolen source of radiation caused the death of
a man and serious injury to his son in Estonia.  In addition, the
lack of control creates the potential for illicit trafficking of
radiation sources to other countries. 


   U.S.  AND INTERNATIONAL
   ASSISTANCE FOR NUCLEAR-RELATED
   ACTIVITIES IN THE FORMER SOVIET
   UNION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

Several U.S.  and international efforts focus on radioactive waste,
radiation protection, and other related activities in the former
Soviet Union.  Collectively, these efforts are smaller in number and
resources than programs aimed at improving the safety of
Soviet-designed civil nuclear power reactors.  Several U.S.  and
international officials told us that these reactors pose the most
serious safety risk and require immediate attention.\14


--------------------
\14 In our report Nuclear Safety:  International Assistance Efforts
to Make Soviet-Designed Reactors Safer (GAO/RCED-94-234, Sept.  29,
1994), we noted that as of May 1994, about $785 million had been
pledged by 22 nations and international organizations to improve the
safety of Soviet-designed reactors. 


      INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
      EFFORTS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.1

About a dozen countries and international organizations are providing
assistance for projects related to, among other things, radiation
protection and radioactive waste management in countries of the
former Soviet Union.  Among the countries providing assistance are
Norway, Sweden, and Japan, which are all in close proximity to the
former Soviet Union.  These countries are concerned about the
migration of contamination from nuclear facilities and other sources
of radioactivity.  According to an official from Norway's Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, Norway plans to spend about $20 million in 1995 on
radiation protection and waste management projects.  A Swedish
official has estimated that Sweden has already spent about $10
million for similar projects.  Japan plans to assist in underwriting
the establishment of a joint venture between a Russian firm and a
Japanese firm to construct and operate a storage and processing
facility for liquid radioactive waste from the Russian Pacific Fleet. 
IAEA has initiated a program broadly aimed at strengthening radiation
protection in the former Soviet Union.  (See app.  V for additional
information about international assistance efforts.)


      PLANNED AND ONGOING U.S. 
      ACTIVITIES
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :5.2

As of August 1995, the United States had committed about $55 million
to support various programs that primarily focus on the environmental
and health effects of the long-term operation of the former Soviet
Union's nuclear weapons production complex, including activities
associated with the production and processing of plutonium.  The
objective is to channel a modest amount of funds to primarily study
issues of concern, such as the effects of radioactive waste
contamination because of its potential impact on Alaska.  The United
States is not providing direct assistance to help remediate the
nuclear waste contamination in the former Soviet Union.  DOE is not
authorized to provide such assistance, and both DOE and State
Department officials said that such aid could be very costly because
of the magnitude of the contamination problems. 

DOE, which is responsible for managing the cleanup of the U.S. 
nuclear weapons complex, faces a major challenge to clean up the
radioactive waste generated by more than four decades of nuclear
weapons production.  As a result, DOE is interested in acquiring
innovative nuclear waste cleanup technologies from foreign countries
through technology exchanges and other cooperative programs.  DOE
believes that its environmental programs with countries of the former
Soviet Union should provide some tangible benefits to accelerate the
cleanup of the U.S.  nuclear weapons complex.  For example, DOE hopes
to identify new cleanup technologies that could improve remediation
at U.S.  facilities through a $2 million technical cooperation
program with Estonia.  Additionally, DOE is contracting with various
Russian and Ukrainian research institutes to identify cleanup
technologies.  Figure 2 summarizes the planned distribution of U.S. 
funding as of August 1995. 

   Figure 2:  U.S.  Planned
   Distribution of About $55
   Million as of August 1995

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note 1:  Assistance from the Department of State includes $300,000
for the IAEA's program of radiation protection in the former Soviet
Union. 

Note 2:  Percentages based on an amount equal to $55 million. 

Sources:  DOE, EPA, NRC, TDA, the Department of State, and DOD. 

As of March 31, 1995, about half of the $55 million had been
disbursed by DOD, DOE, NRC, and the State Department.  Of that
amount, about $10 million has been spent for studying radioactive
waste contamination, including $9 million to study Russian nuclear
contamination of the Arctic region.  (App.  VI lists the expenditures
by agency.)

Specifically, U.S.  programs focus on

  studying the disposal of nuclear waste by the former Soviet Union
     in the Arctic region (DOD/Office of Naval Research);

  assessing the radioactive waste contamination at a naval nuclear
     training facility in Estonia (DOE);

  developing technology on a cooperative basis with Russia to clean
     up radioactive waste (DOE);

  studying the health consequences of radiation contamination at
     Chelyabinsk and other locations in the former Soviet Union (DOE
     and DOD);

  upgrading and expanding a Russian facility that processes low-level
     liquid radioactive waste to prevent its continued dumping in the
     Arctic seas (EPA and Department of State);

  helping Russian and Ukrainian regulatory authorities establish
     regulatory control over radioactive materials, including the
     fuel cycle, the industrial and the medical uses of
     radioisotopes, and the disposal of radioactive materials (NRC);
     and

  studying options to replace power and steam lost as a result of the
     shutdown of the plutonium production reactors at Tomsk and
     Krasnoyarsk (TDA). 

(See app.  VII for additional details about the status of these U.S. 
programs.)


   OBSERVATIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

Information about the conditions at nuclear weapons facilities in the
former Soviet Union is still emerging.  With the exception of the
plutonium production plants in operation, experts do not believe the
other facilities present as broad a safety risk as Soviet-designed
civil nuclear power reactors.  The most immediate problem posed by
these facilities is the extensive radioactive pollution that is the
by-product of almost 50 years of nuclear weapons production. 
Recognizing that the costs associated with remediation are
potentially enormous, the United States is committing modest
resources for various environmental and health-related programs in
some countries of the former Soviet Union. 

Sharing common problems associated with the cleanup of their
respective nuclear weapons complexes, the United States and the
countries of the former Soviet Union can benefit from mutual
cooperation on both safety and environmental issues.  The U.S. 
government has recognized the potential benefits of this cooperation
and is undertaking some efforts with various Russian institutes to
identify new cleanup technologies for potential use in the United
States. 

Ultimately, the countries of the former Soviet Union are responsible
for the safety of their nuclear facilities.  Without independent and
effective regulatory oversight, sustaining any safety improvements
will be very difficult.  For example, the strengthening of
Gosatomnadzor as the regulatory body responsible for inspecting these
facilities in Russia may be one of the most effective ways to improve
safety at weapons complex facilities that do not meet safety
requirements.  The absence of nuclear laws in Russia, however, limits
its effectiveness in carrying out its regulatory duties. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

We provided copies of a draft of this report to the Departments of
Defense, Energy, and State; EPA; and NRC for their review and
comment.  DOE and State had no comments.  We met with DOD officials,
including the Senior Nuclear Weapon Safety Specialist, Office of the
Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Atomic Energy.  We also met
with EPA officials, including the Acting Science Adviser to the
Assistant Administrator, Office of International Activities.  Both
DOD and EPA generally agreed with the report's findings and provided
clarifying information that we have incorporated in the text, as
appropriate.  NRC, while generally agreeing with our report, noted
that we should have included the issue of safeguarding nuclear
material in our discussion about nuclear safety and also indicated
that Russia's nuclear regulatory authority may have been diminished. 
Regarding the first point, we recognize that safeguarding nuclear
material is an important issue but our report focused primarily on
the operational safety of nuclear facilities in the former Soviet
Union.  A forthcoming GAO report will address U.S.  assistance to
improve methods of safeguarding nuclear material at facilities in the
former Soviet Union.  Regarding the last point, in September 1995 the
Acting Deputy Chairman of GAN, Russia's nuclear regulatory body,
informed us that some of its functions were limited by a recent
presidential decree.  He noted, however, that GAN is responsible for
inspecting plutonium production reactors and reprocessing facilities. 
(See app.  IX for NRC's comments and our response to them.) We also
discussed information presented in the draft of this report with
TDA's Country Manager, New Independent States, who provided some
clarifying information that we have incorporated, where appropriate. 

We also provided copies of the draft report to the European Union and
the IAEA.  The European Union noted that the most urgent issue is to
establish appropriate local organizations in the former Soviet Union
to develop a complete inventory of all radiation sources. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

To address our objectives, we interviewed officials and reviewed
documentation from the Department of State, DOD, DOE and several of
its national laboratories, NRC, and EPA.  We also met with Russian
officials who are knowledgeable about nuclear facilities in their
country, as well as officials from international organizations,
including the IAEA.  Collectively, these experts have provided their
insights concerning the safety of these facilities and the
environmental impact from their operation.  Appendix VIII explains
our scope and methodology.  We performed our work between September
1994 and August 1995 in accordance with generally accepted government
auditing standards. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :8.1

Copies of this report are being sent to the Secretaries of State,
Defense, and Energy; the Chairman of NRC; the Administrator of EPA;
the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the Director of
the Trade and Development Agency; and interested congressional
committees.  We will also make copies available to others on request. 

Please contact me at (202) 512-3841 if you or your staff have any
questions.  Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix
X. 

Sincerely yours,

Victor S.  Rezendes
Director, Energy and
 Science Issues


NUCLEAR FACILITIES OPERATING IN
THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
=========================================================== Appendix I


                                                                              To
Nuclear facility and  AR  AZ  BE  ES  GE  KA  KY  LA  LI  ML  RU  TJ  UK  UZ  ta
site                   M   R   L   T   O   Z   R   T   T   D   S   K   R   B   l
--------------------  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --
Mining, milling, and               1      22   8               9   5  11  22  78
 ore-processing
 sites\a
Waste storage and      1   1   4   4   3   4   1   1   1   1  36      12   2  71
 disposal facilities
 and spent fuel
 storage facilities
Research,                      3       3   5       1          31       3   2  48
 experimental, and
 training reactors
 and critical
 assemblies
Uranium enrichment                                             4               4
 facilities
Fuel fabrication                           1                   5               6
 facilities
Plutonium and                                                  5               5
 tritium production
 reactors
Weapon assembly                                                4               4
 facilities
Plutonium-                                                     3               3
 processing and
 reprocessing
 facilities
Weapon design                                                  2               2
 laboratories
================================================================================
Total                  1   1   7   5   6  32   9   2   1   1  99   5  26  26  22
                                                                               1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Legend:  ARM = Armenia, AZR = Azerbaijan, BEL = Belarus, EST =
Estonia, GEO = Georgia, KAZ = Kazakhstan, KYR = Kyrgystan, LAT =
Latvia, LIT = Lithuania, MLD = Moldova, RUS = Russia, TJK =
Tajikistan, UKR = Ukraine, UZB = Uzbekistan

Note 1:  This table may not list all operating nuclear facilities and
does not include nuclear-powered submarines, icebreakers, and support
ships in the Russian military and civilian fleets.  It also does not
include the nuclear test sites at Novaya Zemlya (Russia) and
Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan) because they were closed down in October
1990 and August 1991, respectively. 

Note 2:  Empty cells in this table indicate that no known facilities
are located at these locations. 

\a There are many more possible mining sites.  They are not included
because of incomplete data or because they may not be operational. 
In addition, because some sites overlap two countries' borders they
are included in both. 

Sources:  DOD, International Atomic Energy Agency, Pacific Northwest
Laboratory, Monterey Institute of International Studies, the
Kurchatov Institute, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and
others. 


RESEARCH REACTORS IN THE FORMER
SOVIET UNION
========================================================== Appendix II

According to Russian nuclear experts, there are 41 research reactors
in the former Soviet Union, 31 of which are in Russia.  Of the 41
research reactors, 5 have suspended operation, 1 is under
reconstruction and 1 is under construction.  Table II.1 shows the
name, location, and operating information for these research
reactors. 



                                    Table II.1
                     
                      Research Reactors in the Former Soviet
                                      Union

                                                      Fuel
                                                      enrichment    Amount of
                                                      (percent of   uranium-235
Name, type, operator, and                             uranium-      in fuel (in
location of reactor by republic   Power of reactor    235)          kilograms)
--------------------------------  ------------------  ------------  ------------
Kazakhstan

WWR-K, tank type (Institute of    10,000              36            5.4
Nuclear Physics, Alma Ata)\a      kilowatts

IGR, graphite impulse type        5,200 megajoules\b  90            9.0
(Semipalatinsk Test Site)         per impulse

IVG-1M, water-cooled impulse      60,000              90            4.6
type (Semipalatinsk Test Site)    kilowatts

RA, experimental gas-cooled       400                 90            10
(Semipalatinsk Test Site)         kilowatts

Latvia

IRT-M, pond type (Institute of    5,000 kilowatts     90            3.6-4.0
Nuclear Physics, Riga)

Russia

WWR-2, tank type (Kurchatov       2,000 kilowatts     10            3.1-6.1
Institute)\c

IR-8, pond type (Kurchatov        8,000 kilowatts     90            3.6-4.0
Institute)

MR, pond type (Kurchatov          40,000 kilowatts    90            4.0-20.0
Institute)

Hydra (IIN), solution impulse     30 megajoules per   90            2.4
type (Kurchatov Institute)        impulse

Argus, solution type (Kurchatov   50 kilowatts        90            2.8
Institute)

F-1, uranium-graphite type        25 kilowatts        0.7           340
without forced cooling
(Kurchatov Institute)

GAMMA, vessel type (Kurchatov     125 kilowatts       36-90         4.0-8.0
Institute)

OR, pond type (Kurchatov          300 kilowatts       36            6.2-8.3
Institute)

TWR, heavy water vessel type      2,500 kilowatts     80            6
(Institute for Theoretical and
Experimental Physics, Moscow)

IRT, pond type (Engineering and   5,000 kilowatts     90            3.6
Physics Institute, Moscow)

WWR-C, tank type (Branch of       13,000 kilowatts    90            4.0-12.0
Scientific and Research Physics-
Chemistry Institute, Obninsk)

AM, uranium-graphite type         30,000 kilowatts    5-7           100-200
(Institute of Physics and Power
Engineering, Obninsk)

BR-10, fast breeder sodium        10,000 kilowatts    plutonium     150
cooled type (Institute of                                           kilograms of
Physics and Power Engineering,                                      plutonium
Obninsk)

BFS-1, fast reactor without       1 kilowatt          plutonium     250
forced cooling (Institute of                                        kilograms of
Physics and Power Engineering,                                      plutonium
Obninsk)

BFS-2, fast reactor without       5 kilowatts         plutonium     750
forced cooling (Institute of                                        kilograms of
Physics and Power Engineering,                                      plutonium
Obninsk)

IBR-30, fast reactor of pulse     30 kilowatts        90            70
type (Institute of Nuclear
Research, Dubna)

IBR-2, fast reactor of pulse      2,000 kilowatts     90            150
type (Institute of Nuclear
Research, Dubna)

WWR-M, pond type (St.             18,000 kilowatts    90            4.0-6.0
Petersburg's Institute of
Nuclear Physics)

PIK, tank-vessel type (St.        100,000 kilowatts   90            27.5
Petersburg's Institute of
Nuclear Physics)\d

IVV-2M, pond type (Ural Nuclear   15,000 kilowatts    90            4.0-6.0
Center, Ekaterinburg, Branch of
Research and Construction
Institute for Energy Technique,
Moscow)

MIR, vessel type (Institute of    100,000 kilowatts   90            30
Atomic Reactors, Dimitrovgrad)

SM-2, vessel type (Institute of   100,000 kilowatts   90            40
Atomic Reactors, Dimitrovgrad)

RBT-10/1, pond type (Institute    10,000 kilowatts    50-85\e       12-25
of Atomic Reactors,
Dimitrovgrad)

RBT-10/2, pond type (Institute    10,000 kilowatts    50-85\e       12-25
of Atomic Reactors,
Dimitrovgrad)

RBT-6, pond type (Institute of    6,000 kilowatts     50-85\e       12-25
Atomic Reactors, Dimitrovgrad)

BIGR, uranium-graphite impulse    2,500 megajoules    90            7
type with air cooling,            per impulse
(Institute of Experimental
Physics, Arzamas-16)

BR-1, uranium-metal impulse type  50 megajoules per   90            350
(Institute of Experimental        impulse
Physics, Arzamas-16)

BIR-2M, uranium-metal impulse     5 megajoules per    85            90
type (Institute of Experimental   impulse
Physics, Arzamas-16)

VIR-2M, solution impulse type     81 megajoules per   90            7
(Institute of Experimental        impulse
Physics, Arzamas-16)

IRT-T, pond type (Institute of    12,000 kilowatts    90            3.6-4.0
Nuclear Physics of Tomsk
Polytechnics Institute, Tomsk)

WWR-T, tank type (Norilsk Mining  12,000 kilowatts    90            3.6-4.0
Combine)

Ukraine

WWR-M, tank type (Institute for   10,000 kilowatts    36            6.2-8.3
Nuclear Research, Kiev)\a

IR-100, pond type (Navy           100 kilowatts       10            3.1-6.1
Institute of the Ministry of
Defense, Sevastopol, Crimea)\a

Belarus

IRT-M, pond type (Institute of    5,000 kilowatts     90            3.6-4.0
Nuclear Power, Minsk)\a

Georgia

IRT-M, pond type (Institute of    5,000 kilowatts     90            3.6-4.0
Nuclear Physics, Tbilisi)\a

Uzbekistan

WWR-CM, tank type (Institute of   10,000 kilowatts    90            3.6-4.0
Nuclear Physics, Tashkent)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\a Operation suspended. 

\b The output of impulse reactors is measured in megajoules.  A
megajoule is equivalent to an output of one thousand kilowatts for
one second. 

\c Under reconstruction. 

\d Under construction. 

\e Spent fuel of SM-2 reactor. 

Source:  Kurchatov Institute, Moscow, Russia. 


EQUIVALENT U.S.  AND FORMER SOVIET
UNION NUCLEAR WEAPONS FACILITIES
========================================================= Appendix III

Activity                            Facility\a    U.S. Equivalent\b
----------------------------------  ------------  --------------------
Uranium enrichment                  Angarsk       Oak Ridge,
                                    Krasnoyarsk-  Tennessee
                                    45            Portsmouth, Ohio
                                    Sverdlovsk-   Paducah, Kentucky
                                    44
                                    Tomsk-7

Fuel fabrication                    Glazov        Savannah River,
                                    Elektrostal   South Carolina
                                    Novosibirsk   Fernald, Ohio
                                                  Ashtabula Plant,
                                                  Ohio

Plutonium and tritium production    Chelyabinsk-  Savannah River,
and processing                      65            South Carolina
                                    Krasnoyarsk-  Hanford, Washington
                                    26            Rocky Flats,
                                    Tomsk-7       Colorado\c

Weapon design laboratories          Arzamas-16    Los Alamos, New
                                    Chelyabinsk-  Mexico
                                    70            Lawrence Livermore,
                                                  California

Assembly and disassembly of         Avangard      Pantex, Texas
weapons                             Penza-19
                                    Sverdlovsk-
                                    45
                                    Zlatoust-36

Special nuclear material storage    Chelyabinsk   Pantex, Texas
                                    Krasnoyarsk   Oak Ridge, Tennessee
                                    Tomsk
----------------------------------------------------------------------
\a All the facilities are located in Russia.  The numeric designation
next to a site was adopted during the Soviet era to identify
locations. 

\b The facilities at Oak Ridge, Portsmouth, Paducah, Savannah River,
Hanford, and Rocky Flats are no longer used in nuclear weapons
production activities. 

\c There were no plutonium production facilities at Rocky Flats. 

Sources:  Various U.S.  government organizations. 


ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS AT NUCLEAR
FACILITIES IN THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION
========================================================== Appendix IV

                                                  Accident, incident, and/or
Year      Location            Activity            impact
--------  ------------------  ------------------  ------------------------------
1954      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Parts of building and
                                                  equipment destroyed

1957      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Six persons hurt; one fatality

1957      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        High-level waste storage
                                                  facility exploded; widespread
                                                  contamination; over 10,000
                                                  people evacuated

1958      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Three fatalities; one case of
                                                  radiation sickness\a

1959      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Equipment damaged\a

1960      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        No irradiation\a

1961      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Explosion caused two
                                                  fatalities\a

1962      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Explosion destroyed pipelines

1962      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        No personnel irradiated\a

1963      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Four workers received large
                                                  doses of radiation

1963      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        No personnel irradiated\a

1965      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        \b

1967      Chelyabinsk-65      Waste disposal      Off-site contamination when
                              (Lake Karachay)     lake dried; winds blew
                                                  radioactive silt over tract 75
                                                  km. long and 1,800-2,700
                                                  square km.; over 63
                                                  settlements with 41,500
                                                  inhabitants affected

1967      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Explosion in reprocessing
                                                  equipment

1968      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        One fatality; one case of
                                                  severe radiation sickness
                                                  requiring amputation of legs

1970s     Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Some equipment destroyed

1984      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Explosion in reprocessing
                                                  equipment

1987      Chelyabinsk-65      Waste               Electrode failed in ceramic
                              vitrification       melter and contents spilled
                                                  onto building floor; furnace
                                                  decommissioned in February
                                                  1987

1987      Krasnoyarsk-26      Reprocessing        Radioactive contamination of
                                                  drainage passage

1990      Kamchatka           Nuclear waste       Leak in storage site for
          Peninsula           storage             untreated high-level waste

1990      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Explosion in reprocessing
                                                  equipment; two men received
                                                  chemical burns and one died

1991      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Radioactive gas contamination

1993      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Two technicians irradiated\a

1993      Tomsk-7             Reprocessing        Large reprocessing tank
                                                  exploded causing extensive
                                                  plant damage and off-site
                                                  contamination that spread over
                                                  mostly forested area of
                                                  approximately 123 square km.;
                                                  no worker injuries reported

1993      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Plutonium gases released by
                                                  the plant's ventilation
                                                  system; no damage to the
                                                  workshop or worker injuries

1993      Chelyabinsk-65      Water pumping       Low-level radioactive water
                              station             escaped and contaminated
                                                  approximately 100 square
                                                  meters

1994      Chelyabinsk-65      Reprocessing        Spent fuel rod's protective
                                                  coating caught fire during
                                                  reprocessing; small amount of
                                                  radioactive gas released
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  This table may not be a complete listing of accidents. 
Additionally, it does not include nuclear-powered submarine
accidents. 

\a No additional information available. 

\b No information available. 

Sources:  International Atomic Energy Agency, Westinghouse Savannah
River Corporation, Natural Resources Defense Council, and others. 


INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR
NUCLEAR SAFETY AND RADIATION
PROTECTION TO THE FORMER SOVIET
UNION
=========================================================== Appendix V

Although the majority of international nuclear assistance to the
countries of the former Soviet Union is focused on the safety of
Soviet-designed civil nuclear power reactors, the international
community is also providing some assistance related to radiation
protection, radioactive waste management, and other activities not
directly related to the nuclear power reactors.  About a dozen
countries and international organizations are involved in these other
bilateral and multilateral assistance projects.  Because there is no
comprehensive compilation of this international assistance,
estimating exactly how much each country has committed to promote
nuclear safety and radiation protection issues other than civil
nuclear power activities is difficult.  Appendix VII describes
U.S.efforts in this area. 

According to an official of Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Norway's assistance focuses largely on Russia, Estonia, Lithuania,
and Ukraine with a primary concern for environmental health.  About
two-thirds of Norway's nuclear assistance is focused on radiation
protection and radioactive waste management, and assistance for these
areas is expected to be about $20 million for 1995.  One of Norway's
greatest concerns has been the dumping of nuclear waste in the Arctic
seas.  As a result, the Norwegian Parliament has approved a plan to
address this problem and Norway has participated in several marine
expeditions to assess radioactive contamination in the Kara and
Barents seas. 

Sweden's assistance in radiation protection and waste management has
focused primarily on the Baltic countries (i.e., Estonia, Latvia, and
Lithuania), Belarus, and Russia.  Assistance projects have varied
greatly and included studying radioactive contamination in the Arctic
Ocean, providing equipment to detect radiation, environmental
monitoring, installing emergency warning systems, and assessing
nuclear waste management problems.  A Swedish official estimated that
Sweden has already spent around $10 million for these projects. 

Japan's assistance includes efforts to avoid further dumping of
radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan.  As recently as 1993, Russia
dumped a large volume of low-level liquid radioactive waste into the
Sea of Japan from its fleet of nuclear-powered submarines based near
Vladivostok.  In response to the dumping of this waste, the Japanese
government agreed to assist in underwriting a joint venture between a
Russian firm and a Japanese firm to construct and operate a facility
to store and process low-level liquid radioactive waste.  As of
August 1995, construction had not begun on this facility. 

In 1993, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in
conjunction with the United Nations Development Program, initiated a
program to strengthen radiation protection and nuclear safety
infrastructures as well as identify the types of assistance needed in
the former Soviet Union.  As of May 1995, IAEA had completed
fact-finding missions to nine countries--Armenia, Belarus, Estonia,
Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Uzbekistan. 
IAEA plans to conduct missions to the remaining countries of the
former Soviet Union.  In October 1994, IAEA identified approximately
$19 million to implement the assistance packages developed for these
countries.  As of May 1995, IAEA had provided some equipment under
this program, such as radiation-monitoring devices, to four countries
through emergency IAEA funding and some additional assistance through
its regular technical cooperation program. 

IAEA is awaiting funding to implement the proposed assistance
packages.  In 1995, the United States agreed to provide $300,000 to
support IAEA programs in Moldova and Uzbekistan.  The funds will
provide (1) a national system to notify, register, and license
radiation sources; (2) training to ensure national capability to
track the disposition of radiation sources; and (3) a mechanism to
manage radioactive waste through training, technical assistance, and
equipment. 

The European Union also provides nuclear assistance to the former
Soviet Union.\15

Although about 95 percent of the European Union's funding for safety
assistance is targeted to nuclear power reactors, the remaining 5
percent, or about $3.9 million, funds a variety of projects for
radiation protection and radioactive waste management.  These
projects include (1) assessing the extent of radioactive waste
contamination in the Barents Sea and the Sea of Japan; (2) supporting
countries' regulatory authorities; and (3) preparing site remediation
plans at uranium mines. 


--------------------
\15 The European Union, formerly the European Community, consists of
the following 15 countries:  Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. 


U.S.  EXPENDITURES TO SUPPORT
NUCLEAR-RELATED ACTIVITIES IN THE
FORMER SOVIET UNION (OTHER THAN
CIVIL NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS), MARCH
31, 1995
========================================================== Appendix VI

Expenditure                                                     Amount
----------------------------------------------------------  ----------
Department of Defense
Study of radioactive waste contamination in the Arctic      $9,069,000
 region and its effect on Alaska
Studies of long-term radiation releases in Russia and           77,000
 Kazakhstan
Department of Energy
Assessment of radioactive waste contamination at a former      250,000
 Soviet naval nuclear submarine training facility at
 Paldiski in Estonia
Development of technology on a cooperative basis with the    4,606,000
 Russians for radioactive waste cleanup
Purchase of Plutonium-238 isotope with proceeds to be       11,800,000
 partly used to rehabilitate the radioactively
 contaminated areas of the Chelyabinsk plutonium
 production facility
Research on radiation's effects at the Chelyabinsk              98,000
 production facility
======================================================================
Subtotal                                                    $25,900,00
                                                                     0
Environmental Protection Agency
Design study to upgrade and expand a low-level liquid         $260,000
 radioactive waste-processing facility
Department of State
Extra budgetary contribution to the International Atomic       300,000
 Energy Agency for radiation protection activities in the
 former Soviet Union
Support for EPA study                                           30,000
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Assistance to Russian and Ukrainian regulating bodies in       383,000
 developing programs to govern the use of radioactive
 materials
======================================================================
Subtotal                                                      $973,000
======================================================================
Total                                                       $26,873,00
                                                                     0
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note 1:  Expenditures rounded to thousands of dollars. 

Note 2:  This table does not include expenditures for U.S. 
assistance to improve methods of safeguarding nuclear materials at
facilities in the former Soviet Union. 

Source:  Compiled from data from DOD, DOE, NRC, State Department, and
EPA. 


STATUS OF U.S.  PROGRAMS RELATED
TO NUCLEAR FACILITIES IN THE
FORMER SOVIET UNION (OTHER THAN
CIVIL NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS)
========================================================= Appendix VII


   DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
------------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:1


      ARCTIC CONTAMINATION
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:1.1

Public Law 102-396 directed DOD to spend not less than $10 million to
study, assess, and identify the disposal of nuclear waste by the
former Soviet Union in the Arctic region.  Subsequently, an
additional $20 million has been earmarked for this research.  DOD and
the Office of Naval Research, under the oversight of the Defense
Nuclear Agency, are responsible for addressing radioactive waste
contamination of the Arctic region.  Most of this effort has been
devoted to research projects and expeditions in the Arctic seas to
obtain water, sediment, and biological samples and tests for
radiological contamination.  For example, in 1993 five ships
collected samples in the eastern Arctic near nuclear dump sites and
the estuaries of major rivers and an additional five ships operated
in the western Arctic near Alaska.  According to a Navy official, the
preliminary results of the testing does not indicate a radiation risk
in the region of Alaska.  DOD is continuing to support projects to
monitor and evaluate the risks around the Arctic and North Pacific
region from the former Soviet Union's disposal and discharge of
nuclear waste materials. 


      RADIATION EFFECTS IN RUSSIA
      AND KAZAKHSTAN
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:1.2

Since 1992, DOD's Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute has
focused on several projects dealing with radioactive contamination in
the former Soviet Union.  The Institute's mission is to conduct
research in the field of radiobiology and related matters.  The
Institute has, among other things, (1) studied the long-term medical
effects of radiation releases into Russia's Techa River, (2)
investigated the consequences of nuclear tests at Kazakhstan's
Semipalatinsk test site, and (3) developed documentaries on the
radiation conditions at Krasnoyarsk and at the area where the Russian
nuclear-powered and armed submarine, Komsomolets, sank in 1989. 


   DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
------------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:2


      WASTE TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:2.1

DOE and countries of the former Soviet Union are jointly conducting
activities to develop technology in the areas of environmental
restoration and waste management.  Among other things, DOE seeks to
(1) identify and access former Soviet Union technologies and
technical information available at key former Soviet Union institutes
that could help accelerate U.S.  cleanup of nuclear waste and (2)
increase U.S.  and former Soviet Union opportunities in the private
sector for environmental restoration and waste management.  Key areas
of interest for the United States are vitrification, waste separation
technologies, and migration patterns of radioactive contamination. 
Program activities are arranged among DOE, its laboratories, and
Russian and Ukrainian institutes.  According to a DOE official,
although the program is still in its early stages, some Russian
technologies look promising. 


      RADIATION HEALTH STUDY
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:2.2

In January 1994, the United States and Russia signed a bilateral
agreement to support joint cooperative research and the exchange of
information on the health and environmental effects of radiation.  A
Joint Coordination Committee for Radiation Effects Research was
established and DOE is the lead agency for the U.S.  government.  The
first major research focuses on identifying the cumulative effects of
radiation on workers and the population around the Chelyabinsk-65
region.  To date, joint working groups have been established and
workshops and seminars have been held both in Russia and the United
States.  The United States plans to send research teams into Russia
in the latter part of 1995 to begin joint research activities with
Russian scientists. 


      NUCLEAR CONTAMINATION IN
      ESTONIA
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:2.3

In July 1994, the President of the United States issued a statement
committing DOE to participate in a program of technical cooperation
with the Republic of Estonia.  The United States, as part of an
international effort, is helping Estonia evaluate the environmental
impacts of a former Soviet naval training facility at Paldiski.  This
facility houses two nuclear training reactors, one 70 megawatt and
one 90 megawatt.  The fuel from both reactors has been removed and
transported back to Russia.  DOE is assisting with several projects,
including a decommissioning plan, an overall site characterization
study, and training.  All technological cooperation projects involve
Estonian personnel, who will receive training so they can participate
in all phases of the projects.  In March 1995, a U.S.  team of
officials from DOE, Sandia National Laboratory, and Los Alamos
National Laboratory made a site visit to describe the extent of
contamination and prepare a plan for follow-on actions.  According to
a DOE official, the Paldiski project may benefit the U.S.  cleanup
program through its evaluation of new remediation technologies. 


      PURCHASE OF PLUTONIUM-238
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:2.4

In December 1992, DOE agreed to purchase up to 40 kilograms of
plutonium-238 from Russia for civilian space power applications.  As
of March 31, 1995, DOE had purchased approximately 9 kilograms at a
cost of approximately $11.8 million.  Russia agreed to use the hard
currency received from the sale to remediate the environment and
rehabilitate workers and citizens in the Chelyabinsk region.  In
August 1994, DOE received a detailed accounting from Russia
concerning how the funds were distributed from the sale of the first
shipment, which totaled about $5.9 million.  Of this amount, 38
percent (or $2.2 million) was paid as a federal profit tax. 
Twenty-five percent (or $918,000) of the remainder was transferred to
the Chelyabinsk region's budget to cover unspecified legislated
social needs.  The balance, less a banker's commission fee, went as
follows:  approximately $2.6 million for improvements to waste
storage and about $158,000 to support a health center, medical
rehabilitation, and treatment of workers and citizens near
Chelyabinsk-65. 


   NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
------------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:3


      INVENTORYING RADIOACTIVE
      MATERIAL IN RUSSIA AND
      UKRAINE
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:3.1

NRC is providing Russian and Ukrainian personnel with assistance to
help establish regulatory controls over radioactive wastes, spent
fuels, and materials.  For example, assistance is being provided to
Russia to help strengthen regulatory programs by providing technical
expertise and on-the-job training.  NRC believes that such technical
exchanges and training help promote safety awareness in these
countries and make them better able to improve nuclear safety
themselves. 


   ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
   AND STATE DEPARTMENT
------------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:4


      EXPANDING RUSSIA'S WASTE
      PROCESSING CAPACITY
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:4.1

EPA, with assistance from the State Department, has assessed the
feasibility of the conceptual design to expand the waste processing
facility operated by the Murmansk Shipping Company.  This expansion
includes handling the waste associated with decommissioning nuclear
submarines.  EPA is currently developing the engineering design and
the expansion; upgrading the facility is expected to start in the
fall of 1995.  According to EPA, the expanded and upgraded processing
capacity would provide Russia with an environmentally sound
alternative to dumping nuclear waste into the Arctic Ocean.  In
September 1994, Russia announced that it intends to continue its
present policy of voluntary commitment to a recent amendment to the
London Convention, which bans the dumping of all other radioactive
matter, including low-level radioactive waste into the seas. 
Russia's waste-processing problems may also contribute to its reduced
rate for deactivating and decommissioning nuclear submarines. 
Currently, over 100 nuclear-powered submarine hulls await final
disposition.  The initiative to expand the capacity to store nuclear
waste is being coordinated with Norway.  According to EPA, the
program could cost about $3 million if the facility is constructed. 
The United States and Norway plan to share the cost equally. 


   TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
------------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:5


      FEASIBILITY STUDIES TO
      FACILITATE CLOSURE OF
      RUSSIA'S PRODUCTION REACTORS
----------------------------------------------------- Appendix VII:5.1

In December 1994, the U.S.  Trade and Development Agency (TDA) signed
two grants for feasibility studies on options to replace the power
and steam that will be lost as a result of the shutdown of the three
plutonium production reactors at Tomsk-7 and Krasnoyarsk-26.  Under
the terms of a June 1994 protocol signed by the Vice President of the
United States and the Prime Minister of Russia, these three operating
reactors should be shut down no later than the year 2000.  After
initially awarding a grant of $850,000 to Tomsk authorities to
evaluate coal and natural gas as alternative fuels, TDA has increased
the grant to $1,060,000 to ensure a broader assessment.  In March
1995, the Tomsk authorities selected a U.S.  firm to perform the
study.  TDA also provided a $780,000 grant to the municipality of
Krasnoyarsk-26 to primarily evaluate the feasibility of two options
involving coal as the alternative fuel.  In June 1995, the same U.S. 
firm was selected to undertake the study.  Both studies began in
August 1995. 


SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
======================================================== Appendix VIII

To determine the number of nuclear facilities in the countries of the
former Soviet Union, we developed an inventory from several publicly
available documents.  We obtained data from the Monterey Institute of
International Studies (Monterey, California), the Natural Resources
Defense Council, the International Atomic Energy Agency (Vienna,
Austria), and various U.S.  government agencies.  In most instances,
the nuclear facilities were listed in more than one source. 
Additionally, we sought to corroborate the information through
discussions with officials from U.S., international, and private
organizations.  We met with or obtained information from officials
from the former Soviet Union.  For example, we had discussions and
obtained information from key Russian representatives from
Gosatomnadzor (GAN), the regulatory agency, and the Ministry of
Atomic Energy (MINATOM).  We also met with an official from Russia's
Permanent Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna,
Austria.  Information pertaining to research reactors in the former
Soviet Union was obtained from the Kurchatov Institute of Atomic
Energy, which is Russia's leading research and development
institution in the field of nuclear energy.  We discussed the
condition of Kazakhstan's nuclear facilities with the Deputy Director
of Kazakhstan's Institute for Strategic Studies.  We also reviewed
pertinent information about facilities in countries of the former
Soviet Union that had been prepared in response to an international
forum on nuclear safety sponsored by the International Atomic Energy
Agency. 

To address facility safety and environmental issues, we reviewed
available public information and had discussions with nuclear safety
experts primarily from the Department of Energy, several national
laboratories, and nuclear weapons facilities.  We met with or had
discussions with numerous officials who had recently visited
facilities at Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk.  In addition, many of these same
officials had participated in workshops on noncivil nuclear power
reactor safety with their Russian counterparts.  Specifically, we had
discussions with officials from the following DOE national
laboratories:  Los Alamos (Los Alamos, New Mexico), Sandia
(Albuquerque, New Mexico), Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
(Idaho Falls, Idaho), and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (Livermore,
California).  We also had discussions with officials from DOE's
Savannah River Site (Aiken, South Carolina) as well as officials from
the Pacific Northwest Laboratory (Richland, Washington), who had
developed considerable information about Russia's plutonium
production reactors and problems with environmental waste
contamination.  We reviewed available documentation, including trip
reports, prepared by DOE and national laboratory officials who had
recently visited Russian facilities. 

To determine the amount and type of assistance being planned or
provided, we obtained pertinent data from various U.S.  government
agencies that have been providing assistance or are knowledgeable
about assistance to the former Soviet Union.  Specifically, we
obtained data from the following U.S.  departments and agencies: 
Department of Defense's Office of Naval Research, Department of
Energy, Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency, Trade
and Development Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  We
did not independently verify the accuracy of the data provided by
these agencies. 

We discussed nuclear safety assistance issues with representatives
from several international organizations and foreign governments.  We
met with officials at IAEA, the European Union (in Brussels,
Belgium), and the Organization for Cooperation and Development's
(OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (in Paris, France).  Several IAEA
officials had recently visited eight former Soviet Union republics
and had been to various facilities in the past 2 years, including
Tomsk.  We attended a May 1995 workshop at the IAEA on nuclear waste
issues in Russia and discussed assistance efforts with
representatives from Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Japan.  We reviewed
various databases to identify international safety assistance,
including OECD's Center for Cooperation and Economies in Transition
database as well as data from the G-24 Nuclear Safety Assistance
Coordination Center in Brussels, Belgium. 




(See figure in printed edition.)Appendix IX
COMMENTS FROM THE NUCLEAR
REGULATORY COMMISSION
======================================================== Appendix VIII



(See figure in printed edition.)


The following are GAO's comments on NRC's letter dated August 24,
1995. 

1.  While we recognize that safeguarding nuclear material is an
important issue, our report focused primarily on the operational
safety of nuclear facilities in countries of the former Soviet Union. 
Operational safety of nuclear facilities and safeguarding materials
are generally considered distinct activities.  We plan to discuss
issues pertaining to U.S.  assistance to improve nuclear material
controls at facilities in the former Soviet Union in a forthcoming
GAO report. 

2.  NRC commented that we should review a July 1995 Russian
presidential decree that changed the responsibilities of the Russian
nuclear regulatory agency.  In response, we contacted the Acting
Deputy Chairman of Gosatomnadzor (GAN) (the Russian nuclear
regulatory agency) who informed us that the Russian President's
decree had limited GAN's "sphere of activity" particularly regarding
the manufacturing, testing, and use of nuclear weapons.  These
activities are within the jurisdiction of Russia's Ministry of
Defense.  He noted, however, that all Russian Ministry of Atomic
Energy installations associated with the production of nuclear
material are subject to GAN's regulatory oversight.  This includes
inspection of the operating plutonium production reactors at Tomsk
and Krasnoyarsk as well as associated reprocessing facilities.  GAN's
Acting Deputy Chairman stressed the value of nuclear legislation as a
means to improve nuclear safety in Russia. 

3.  The reference to enrichment facilities in Ukraine has been
deleted from our report. 

4.  The report has been updated to reflect this new information. 

5.  The report has been changed to reflect this clarification. 


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
=========================================================== Appendix X

RESOURCES, COMMUNITY, AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT DIVISION WASHINGTON,
D.C. 

Bernice Steinhardt, Associate Director, Energy and Science Issues
Gene Aloise, Assistant Director
Glen Levis, Assignment Manager
Thomas J.  Flaherty, Senior Evaluator/Adviser
Duane G.  Fitzgerald, Ph.D., Nuclear Engineer

EUROPEAN OFFICE

Pamela J.  Timmerman, Evaluator-in-Charge
Lauren V.A.  Waters, Staff Evaluator