USIS Washington File

13 March 2000

Text: U.S., Russia Sign Agreement on Nuclear Waste Storage Tanks

(Sandia, Zheleznogorsk to develop and test remediation technology)

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Russia's Ministry for Atomic
Energy have signed an agreement to develop and test technologies to
remediate radioactive waste storage tanks.

The agreement -- which pairs the Sandia National Laboratories in New
Mexico and a production facility in Zheleznogorsk, Russia -- will
begin immediately, according to a March 10 DOE press release.

DOE said Sandia personnel will help the Zheleznogorsk facility
"coordinate this [remediation] technology with international
standards" in support of the facility's efforts to become a world
provider of such technology.

Techniques for securing spent nuclear fuel tanks must be tested before
being qualified for use in cleanup operations, according to the

The Energy Department said the joint project is being funded under the
Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention and will advance the Nuclear
Cities Initiative -- two DOE programs aimed at employing Russia's
nuclear weapons personnel in commercial, non-weapons related

Following is the text of the DOE release:

[In the text, 1 billion = 1,000 million.]

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Energy
March 10, 2000



The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Russia's Ministry for Atomic
Energy, through their laboratories and production facilities, this
week signed an agreement to develop and test advanced technologies to
remediate high-level nuclear waste in both the United States and
Russia. The partnership between the Department of Energy's Sandia
National Laboratories and the Mining and Chemical Combine, a
production facility in Zheleznogorsk, Russia, will begin immediately.

The announced Tank Retrieval and Closure Demonstration Center in
Zheleznogorsk is to be funded by the Department of Energy's
Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, a unique initiative to
secure weapons of mass destruction expertise in Russia and the newly
independent states. The center will serve as an international site
where advanced equipment and technologies for remediation of
high-level radioactive waste tanks can be tested before being
qualified for use in cleanup of both the Russian and U.S. complexes.
The project also advances the Energy Department's Nuclear Cities
Initiative by assisting Russia as it downsizes and commercializes its
weapons complex.

"This is an exciting collaboration offering the potential to reduce
future clean-up costs at U.S. and Russian facilities by billions of
dollars," said Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Deputy Administrator for
Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. "In addition this activity puts
Russia's top scientists to work in their homeland, helping to prevent
brain drain, a major U.S. priority."

The contract, which was signed Tuesday between the U.S. Department of
Energy's Sandia National Laboratories' and Russia's Mining and
Chemical Combine, names Sandia as overall project manager of the Tank
Retrieval and Demonstration Center in Zheleznogorsk. The laboratories'
personnel will test Russia's tank remediation technology and
coordinate this technology with international standards. The center,
funded with $1.5 million from DOE, will assist Zheleznogorsk in their
efforts to become a world provider of technology for cleaning and
remediating high-level radioactive waste storage tanks, a $24 billion
industry in the U.S. and Russia.

The Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention is a Department of Energy
initiative that seeks to enhance U.S. national security and
nonproliferation objectives by engaging scientists, engineers and
technicians from former weapons of mass destruction and
weapons-related institutes, redirecting their activities in
cooperatively-developed, commercially viable non-weapons related

The Nuclear Cities Initiative is a Department of Energy initiative
that helps the Russian government provide civilian employment to
weapons scientists in the 10 closed Russian nuclear cities, making it
possible for them to remain in their homeland and work on civilian and
commercial projects as facilities in Russia's weapons complex are
downsized or eliminated.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: