High-Activity Radioactive Materials Secretly Removed From Chechen Site

Press Release
Aug 3, 2006

Chemical PlantWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that more than 5,500 curies of radioactive cobalt-60 and cesium-137, enough material for at least five "dirty bombs," have been removed from Chechnya and safely returned to Russia for protection. 

NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and the Russian Federation jointly supported the mission to remove the radioactive sources from a petrochemical production site in Chechnya. 

"It is critical to international security that high-risk, radiological material is safely removed and secured before it falls into the hands of terrorists.  Through joint cooperation with Russia, dangerous material has been removed from an area known for violence," said Linton F. Brooks, head of NNSA.

View inside of the production building where GOU gamma unit was located.At the site in Chechnya, the radioactive materials were removed from the equipment and packaged into two special transportation casks.  The casks were loaded onto a truck and securely delivered to a facility in the Moscow region to be analyzed and stored temporarily.  Once the materials are evaluated, they will be transferred to the Radon Moscow Scientific Production Association for permanent disposal.  The work was carried out by a group of Russian specialists.

The mission of GTRI is to identify, secure, recover and/or facilitate the final disposition of high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world as quickly as possible.  In the past three years under GTRI, over 200 radiological dispersion devices worth of material has been recovered from 23 different sites in cooperation with the Russian Federation.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous 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.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371