International Meeting
2000 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Nathalie Mironova
Movement for Nuclear Safety
Chelyabinsk, Russia

Danger Links Between Plutonium Bombs And Plutonium Economy
Transparency and Openness Help Society to Make a Choice

I am happy to be joining the most responsible part of our society at this significant Conference. I am sure most of us believe that:
"If powerful men and women
Could center themselves in it,
The whole world would be transformed
By itself, in its natural rhythms."(Tao Te Ching)

Let's think together: where is the place, what is the role of nuclear weapons for the next Millennium? Political and military elites try to deny nations the right to live in peaceful rhythm. Have nuclear weapons transformed the natural rhythms of the citizens of Hiroshima? Nagasaki? Muslumovo? Argayash region? Rocky Flats? Sellafield, or other places of the our planet, or region, where I live? Nuclear weapons have forced people to adjust their rhythm of their lives to fit in with the dictates of a nuclear world.?There are very deep psychological changes: society has been split into two parts -small numbers of heroic nuclear kamikazes and big numbers of victims of this heroism. Only political elites and military industry have made profit from this conflict.

The Summary of the nuclear and political elites activity is:
Russia USA Great Britain France China
National product (NP), 10(9) $ (USD) * 205.3 9333.0 1423.8 1464.9 1001.1
National product per person, 10(3) $ 1,410 33,946 24,947 24,956 0.790
Growth of NP 1% 2.7% 2.6% 2.7% 7%
Inflation 38% 2.6% 2.6% 1.1% 2.5%
Total Nuclear Warhead (NW)** ~22500 12070 380 ~500 ~450
Planning to cut (NW) ~12000 1350 220 50 50
Resources (NW) - 2300 - - -
Total Pu resources (t) 180 – 220 101 55 40.6 2-6
Military Pu resources, (t) 150-190 99.5 3.1 5 2-6
Military Uranium, (t) 1050*** 645 8 24 20
* - The Economist”
** - A.Machijany, <>, 1999.
*** - 500 ton HEU discusses to sell to USA

According to the experts conclusion the optimal number of warheads for Russia and USA is 1500 each.
The mountains of surplus plutonium are putting pressure on the national and the world economy. Today we see very dangerous processes of transforming Plutonium Bombs to a Plutonium economy.

It is known that processing of each 100 tons of spent nuclear fuel produces one-ton of "commercial" plutonium. In the early 80-s the biggest Russian nuclear site, Mayak had 30 tons of "commercial" plutonium from processing Russian and foreign spent nuclear fuel. Over the next 20 years Mayakwas processing 100-200 tons of spent fuel every year. So, Mayak had to store a minimum of 20 more tons of plutonium during these years. ?It means that they now must have 50 tons from processing Russian and foreign spent fuel. But officials claim only 30 - 33 tons. This is very questionable. Until 1999 this quantity of "civilian" plutonium was excluded from the Russian-American program for reducing the danger of plutonium. The Movement for Nuclear Safety has drawn the attention to this disproportion. Success came in 2000, when "civilian" plutonium was included in negotiations.

The Legacy of the strategy of "nuclear restraint." Today the stock of plutonium in Russia is twice as much as the stock of plutonium in the USA and it is still growing. The safe handling of 200 tons of plutonium costs, according to American safety standards, 800 million dollars a year. The political cold war gambling led to a situation where the USA invested 100 times more national resources than their close political competitors. The USA expenditure on nuclear weapons and their infrastructure constituted 5.5 billion dollars for the period 1940-1996. (Arjun Machijany, 1999, with reference to Stephen I. Schwartz, 1998). No equivalent figures have been published for Russian nuclear arsenals.

Today experts believe that the number of nuclear warheads of the super states should be decreased to 1.5 thousand in each one. Such a decrease could lift the economic burden and could strengthen national defense. But the problem is that neither in the USA nor in Russia has the process of nuclear disarmament become irreversible. Almost 10 billions dollars that have been invested into the industrial infrastructure of both Russia and the USA, thousands of nuclear scientists who don't want to do anything else, the budget interests of military corporations -all these create an inertial stream that has to be blocked by a public aware of its danger. The nuclear elite lives in a closed technocratic atmosphere and they don't want to leave "cold war" priorities and principles: They miss the "cold war."
Chelyabinsk-65 was reported to have 83,000 inhabitants and "almost 100,000 people." The nuclear complex, covers some 90 square kilometers, according to a ministry report, and is run by the production association Mayak. All the reactors are located near the southeast shore of Lake Kyzyltash and relied on open-cycle cooling: water from the lake was pumped directly through the core. The plutonium reactors were closed in the 90s. Processing and isotopes production still operates. Mayak” was the first Soviet plutonium production complex. Construction was started on the first buildings of the new city in November 1945. Some 70,000 inmates from 12 labor camps were reportedly used to build the complex.

Nuclear downwinders environmental and health problems. There are 15 nuclear sites in Russia, connected with military production and the fuel cycle. Five of them are situated in the Ural Mountains and three of them are situated in the Chelyabinsk region. The most famous, most dangerous and oldest is the complex Mayak. I live near the site, where the first Russian nuclear and hydrogen bombs were produced. From the end of the 40s the first radiochemical plant started to produce plutonium. The production of military plutonium is closed now. Tritium production is still operating. In 1976 radiochemical plant PT-1 started "civilian"activity. Last year 1,831 million cubic metres liquid and solid wastes with radioactivity of 42.5 million Ku were produced at Mayak. From this number 1.25 million Ku was dumped in the Karachay, Old Swamp and some other lakes and the Techa- river. 150 millions Ku radioactivity has been collected in Karachay since 1953. Several other lakes and rivers are used by Mayak scientists and officials for dumping nuclear wastes. The migration of radionuclides with underground water from the Karachay is extremely dangerous for drinking resources of the Chelyabinsk region. Tritium waste is dumped into the lake named "Old Swamp." Tritium waste also migrates from the Old Swamp to the underground water.

Nukes can go on polluting natural water resources by falsifying the safety checks and putting the censure on environmental information. But this falsification and censure cannot protect the environment from nuclear contamination and health from nuclear hazardous effects. According to Nuclear Inspectorate Gosatomnadzor information 1999, Mayak has no license to use reservoirs: lakes and rivers, for the disposal of nuclear waste.

The people of the Chelyabinsk Region have suffered no less than three nuclear disasters:
For several years 1949 - 1953, the Mayak complex systematically dumped radioactive waste into the Techa River, the only source of water for the 24 villages which lined its banks. The four largest of those villages were never evacuated, and only recently have the authorities revealed to the population why they strung barbed wire along the banks of the river some 35 years ago.

In 1957, the area suffered its next calamity when the cooling system of a radioactive waste containment unit malfunctioned and exploded. About two million curies spread throughout the region, exposing to radiation over a quarter of a million people. Less than half of one percent of these people was evacuated, and some of those only after years had passed.

The third disaster came ten years later. The Mayak complex had been using Lake Karachay as a dumping basin for its radioactive waste since 1951. In 1967, a drought reduced the water level of the lake, and gale-force winds spread radioactive dust throughout twenty-five thousand square kilometers, further irradiating half a million people with five million curies.

There were 217 towns and villages with a combined population 270,000 people in the area that was contaminated to greater than 0.1 curies of strontium 90 per square kilometer. By comparison, the total strontium 90 fallout at this latitude from past atmospheric tests is 0.08 curies per square kilometer. Virtually all water supply sources in the area were contaminated. Evacuation of the most highly contaminated areas, where 1,100 people lived, was not completed until 10 days after the accident. Other areas were evacuated a year later, after the population had consumed radioactive food. In the years following the accident, 515 square miles of land was plowed under or removed from agricultural use; all except 80 square kilometers was returned to use by 1978.

About 10,000 people lived in the 1,000-square-kilometer area contaminated with more than two curies of strontium 90 per square kilometer. One-fifth of these people eventually showed a reduction of leukocytes in their blood. There are no records of deaths caused by the accident.

Contamination from Mayak operation activity can be compared with the effects of nuclear bombing, but they are more dangerous because they are kept secret. People keep living on the contaminated territory. The food is contaminated, water is contaminated, and air is contaminated. The most terrible effect this contamination has in on the third generation. Children's health is very bad. On the downwind territory each fifth child has chronic lung diseases, each third has acute respiratory disorders, each sixth has chronic stomach diseases. Each third child has vascular atone, each fifth has heart dysfunctions. Seven in ten children aged 3-10 have behavior abnormalities and problems in social adaptation connected with a partial dysfunction (deficiency) of the central nervous system and diffusive or focal failure of the brain. Recent investigation has shown that a 1-year-old girl, Regina Stern, has a particle of plutonium in her body.

Of downwind adults 72% have nerves diseases, 50% stomach diseases, and 40% blood abnormality. Each fifth adult is an invalid.

The health and environmental effects of the nuclear industry activity reveal a showing low-level of technical safety and a low-level engineering culture. The rehabilitation of the territory and inhabitants of Chelyabinsk region looks like a sham, which creates catastrophes.

Dismantling military nuclear arsenals. Moreover, 50,000 warheads will also be stored in the same nuclear site, Mayak complex. And eventually infrastructure for MOX (mixed Oxide) fuel will also be built at Mayak”. People are opposing with these plans.

Mayak” consists of several dozens of facilities. Can you imagine what may happen on this site, if a terrorist would attempt to take some fissile materials, or if a terrorist will send a rocket? The disaster will be several hundred times more than Hiroshima and Nagasaki!

Links between Plutonium Bombs and Plutonium Economy. As you may know, on June 4 President Clinton and President Putin announced an agreement, which supports the industrial use of weapon grade plutonium in nuclear power reactors in both nations. At the upcoming G-8 Summit in Okinawa, Russian and American leaders asked other nations for financial support for this program.

Although environmentalists want dismantled weapons to be handled safely they are sure that to process plutonium for use as fuel in American and Russian nuclear power plants is wrong. Many scientists, engineers, and environmentalists oppose the bilateral agreement, which would abandon the safer alternative of immobilization for Russian plutonium.

The US-Russian agreement calls for 34 tons of Russian plutonium to be used in nuclear power plants; in the United States 25.5 tons of plutonium would be used in nuclear power reactors and 8.5 tons immobilized. Plutonium mixed oxide fuel has a greater quantity of hazardous radioactive materials, which would cause additional harmful radiation exposure to the public in case of reactor failure. The increase in health risk is related to the amount of plutonium fuel loaded into the reactor core. A reactor using mixed oxide for one-third of its fuel would contain about three times more plutonium 239 than the same reactor loaded with conventional uranium fuel. A severe accident, involving containment failure or bypass, could cause 30% more cancer fatalities, corresponding to hundreds or even thousands of additional cancer deaths in the communities surrounding the plant.

More over, who will assume liability for plutonium fuel accidents in Russian light water reactors funded by America and other G-8 nations? What would be the political fallout from such accidents? These issues should have been resolved before President Clinton signed the agreement with President Putin.

"Greens" prevented nuclear corruption. Russian greens and environmentalists understand the situation very clearly. They are trying to prevent a new type of corruption connected with nuclear waste business.

The documents, dated May 19, 1998, show that 200,000 barrels of Taiwan Power Company's (Taipower) nuclear waste will be shipped to Russia via Japan within 10 years. Taipower will pay NT(National Taiwan)$800 million, or an average of NT$4,000 per barrel. Benefits to the three parties were also mentioned in these documents. For Taiwan, problems caused by the lack of dump sites for nuclear waste would be solved, while thousands of job opportunities would be created for Russians. As for Japan, documents show that, as the agent, Asia Tat Trading Co. Ltd. (ATT) would make a handsome profit. The Kurchatov Institute (KI), Russia's largest nuclear weapons center, is reportedly organizing the project. Profit for the venture has been projected at around US$10 billion. The Japanese agency had reached an informal agreement with a Russian atomic research center concerning dumping nuclear waste for the company.

According to the information of one of Russian environmental organizations Ecodefense, Kurchatov Institute officials lobbied for changes in Russia's legislation in exchange for financial support by ATT. It has been reported that Taipower plans to begin operating the nuclear waste dump in 2012, but that local protesters asking for compensation could affect these plans.

An other case: Receiving and storing Foreign spent fuel is banned in the federal level but has been allowed by the regional law in Chelyabinsk region. The administration, due to a Presidential order, is getting 12% of Mayak profit and regards this enterprise as the source of extra budget funds that may be used for supporting election campaigns.

All three nuclear sites have their representatives in the Chelyabinsk regional legislative body, lobbying for the interests of this industry. The peculiar feature of this activity is fact that although receiving and storing foreign spent fuel is banned under federal level, it has been allowed since 1999 by the regional law "concerning radioactive Protection of the population of the Chelyabinsk region."

The "Movement for Nuclear Safety" watches illegal activity of regional legislators. We apply to the General Prosecutor ask him to over-rule the regional Law "Concerning radioactive protection of the population of the Chelyabinsk region." This regional Law violates federal law by ignoring state prohibition to import nuclear material for storage. He called us on July 13 and informed us that he would apply to the regional Court against this violation. The Regional Prosecutor invited MNS to be the third side in this case. It is great victory of our network.

But that is not all. On April 29 Chelyabinsk legislators wrote a letter to President Putin asking him to support nuclear waste deals. For our part we asked the public to write to legislators to withdraw off its letter to Putin because it violated human rights. On June 29 seven Russian green activists were arrested in Chelyabinsk after a public action against the nuclear waste industry. I was one of them. Five NGOs organized an action against a spent nuclear fuel deal as a national financial base of the Plutonium economy in Russia. Seven activists were arrested for 4 hours and received a warning from the Judge. We made a very nice action. The Judge after we answered her questions said, that she was supporting our point of view! The policemen, who arrested us, also added that they were against importing nuclear waste. So, we had a big success. All local press, TV and Radio informed people about this action and problems connected with it. The Regional Governor invited us to meet him after the action - before he was ignoring our addresses to him.

The Movement for Nuclear Safety is carrying on a program of professional education of NGOs leaders. We are sure that this program will enable us to successfully negotiate with the Government on the issues of national nuclear policy and of ensuring transparency and strengthening public participation in the decision making process of nuclear disarmament and decreasing nuclear threats. At the same time we need to strengthen public influence on the United Nation for developing a UN Convention on nuclear weapons elimination. We must strengthen our international collaboration.

Go back to the Menu of the Conference