Only One Russian Plutonium Producing Reactor Remains
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the second plutonium-producing reactor in Seversk, Russia, was shut down ahead of schedule, ending the proliferation risk of the dangerous nuclear material. NNSA and their Russian counterparts at Rosatom announced the first reactor shutdown on April 20, 2008. Today's milestone ends 43 years of weapons-grade plutonium production in Seversk, formerly the Russian secret city codenamed Tomsk-7.
"Today's shutdown of the second reactor at Seversk brings us another step closer to eliminating the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium in Russia," said William Tobey, NNSA's deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation. "NNSA's commitment and investment in this effort will help prevent the proliferation threat of weapons of mass destruction by bringing to an end the production of this dangerous nuclear material."
The Russian reactors were originally operated to produce weapons-grade plutonium with heat and electricity as a by-product from the early 1960s until 1993. Since 1993, the reactors have operated to provide heat and electricity for Seversk and nearby areas, and they produced weapons-grade plutonium as a by-product. Under the 1997 Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement between the United States and Russian Federation, this plutonium will not be used for weapons. NNSA and Rosatom are currently working to provide this replacement heat and electricity capacity so that the final reactor operating in Zheleznogorsk can be shut down on schedule, no later than 2010, permanently ceasing Russian weapons-grade plutonium production.
The reactor shutdown was made possible by a joint program between NNSA and Rosatom. NNSA's Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production program is working with Rosatom on the closure work and provides fossil-fuel heat and electricity to replace Russia's remaining plutonium production reactors.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371