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Wednesday, April 22, 1998 Published at 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK

Special Report

Operation to 'safeguard' nuclear waste
image: [ Georgia: plant is crumbling ]
Georgia: plant is crumbling

American nuclear waste experts have arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to begin removing radioactive waste from a crumbling reactor to be flown to the UK for reprocessing.

Uranium expert Dr Brain East: "You could send it through the post" (2'07")
They say the operation is vital to ensure the 5kg of uranium and spent fuel rods do not fall into the hands of groups seeking their own nuclear weapon.

But it has caused a row in the UK. Both Russia and France refused to accept the waste.

[ image: Reactor: waste could be stolen for a bomb]
Reactor: waste could be stolen for a bomb
Environmentalists say Scotland's Dounreay nuclear power plant is in danger of becoming a dumping ground for the world's unwanted radioactive waste.

The US experts are expected to inspect conditions at the Mtskheta physics facility, around 15km from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

The secret facility is believed to contain waste capable of making nuclear warheads and its role before the collapse of the Soviet Union is shrouded in mystery.

Soviet fallout

The Mtskheta centre was built in the 1950s and was capable of producing 5,000 megawatts of electricity before it was shut down 10 years ago.

[ image: Entire plant is falling to pieces]
Entire plant is falling to pieces
Since then it has suffered a similar fate to many other nuclear facilities in the former Soviet Union as scientists have been starved of the resources needed to maintain safety and security standards.

Once the US scientists have removed 4kg of highly enriched uranium and 0.8kg of spent fuel from the site, the US Air Force will transport the material to the UK in an operation believed to be codenamed Auburn Endeavour.

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, said that it was vital the material did not "fall into the wrong hands".

"We were concerned about some highly enriched uranium, some material that we were concerned would get into the wrong hands," she said.

"So in co-operation with other countries we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of this material."

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22 Apr 98†|†Special Report
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In this section

Nuclear fuel arrives at Dounreay

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No nuclear cover up - Blair

Politicians attack waste plan

1998 Contents
†-† Balloon race
†-† Five Nations
†-† Welfare Reform
†-† Elgar
†-† Bon Appetit
†-† Kosovo
†-† Health
†-† India Elections
†-† Clinton Scandal
†-† liberal democrats
†-† WEF Davos
†-† 04/98
†-† Asian economic crises
†-† Valentine
†-† 1970s
†-† Drugs in sport
†-† Diana
†-† Chinese New Year
†-† Water Week
†-† Food Agency
†-† Super Bowl XXXII
†-† Karla Faye Tucker
†-† Millennium Dome
†-† Northern Ireland
†-† Car Crash
†-† Sri Lanka
†-† EU Enlargement
†-† Gulf War Syndrome
†-† Encryption
†-† Australian Republic
†-† Pope in Cuba
†-† London Referendum
†-† Woodward
†-† PNG
†-† Bloody Sunday
†-† Eurasia 98
†-† US abortion rights
†-† Hooligans
†-† Viagra

04/98 Contents




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