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NNSA, Ukraine Secure Thousands of Disused Radiological Sources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the successful removal of more than 3,900 radiological sources, the largest single radiological source consolidation to date in Ukraine, from the Electron Gaz Plant in Zholtiy Vodi, Ukraine. The sources, which were left behind after the company operating the plant went bankrupt, have now been transferred to a new, high-security facility dedicated by U.S. and Ukrainian officials earlier this year.

At a ceremony today in Kyiv, U.S. and Ukrainian officials celebrated the successful removal of these sources and the ongoing, close cooperation among NNSA, Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency Situations (MOES) and the State Nuclear Regulator Committee of Ukraine (SNRCU).   

“Today marks a major milestone in locking down radiological material that could be used by terrorists in a radiological dispersal device,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Thanks to our long-standing relationship with Ukraine and our shared commitment to enhancing international radiological security efforts, we have succeeded in making the world a safer place by reducing the possibility that radiological material could fall into the hands of terrorists.”

The sources were transported in 23 separate shipments from the Electron Gaz Plant to a new storage building at the Dnipropetrovsk Radon facility. The new building, constructed with funding from NNSA and designed to securely store large numbers of radioactive sources, was officially dedicated on May 27, 2010.

The shipments were conducted by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) in close coordination with MOES and SNRCU. GTRI works in more than 120 countries to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites around the world. Through GTRI, NNSA has worked with Ukraine since 2004 to enhance the physical security of sites that use or store high-activity radiological sources.  To date, NNSA has upgraded the security at more than 65 buildings with radiological sources in Ukraine.

A fact sheet on NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is available online here.

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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 in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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 U.S. and abroad.