NNSA Secures One of the World's Largest Nuclear Storage Facilities

Press Release
Nov 12, 2008
NNSA Helps Increase Security for Tens of Tons of Weapons-Grade Nuclear Material

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A major cooperative effort to secure weapons-grade nuclear material is now completed at the Mayak Production Association in Ozersk, Russia, a senior official with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said today, calling it a milestone in joint nuclear security work.

It is the largest nuclear materials storage facility that NNSA has completed security upgrades on to date.  Over the past decade, NNSA and Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy and materials agency, have been working on the modernization of security measures at the long-term storage facility, which holds highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

"Ensuring the security of one of Russia's largest long-term storage facilities is a signal toward enhancing nuclear security, and shows the continued progress under the agreement signed by Presidents Bush and Putin at Bratislava," said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey.  "NNSA will continue the cooperation with Russia to upgrade security of nuclear material storage both in Russia and around the world. These upgrades are of vital importance to U.S., Russian and international security, and the Mayak upgrades are a milestone in our joint nuclear security work."

The U.S. assistance in strengthening security at Mayak is part of NNSA's Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program.  By securing materials at their source, NNSA helps strengthen the "first line of defense" against nuclear theft and terrorism.

Nuclear security upgrades were accelerated by the Bush-Putin Bratislava Initiative, agreed to in February 2005.  Under the Bratislava Initiative, work is focused on five key areas: upgrading security of nuclear facilities, coordinating emergency response, enhancing nuclear security culture, replacing HEU with LEU in research reactors, and sharing best practices.

Securing weapons-grade nuclear material at Mayak completes a major Bratislava milestone ahead of the December 2008 deadline.  The remainder of work agreed to under Bratislava remains on time, scheduled for completion this year.  Additional upgrades that have been subsequently added to the cooperation will continue through 2012.

The Mayak facility secured by NNSA is not the nuclear storage facility that the U.S. Department of Defense built for Russia in the 1990s, which stores fissile material derived from dismantled nuclear weapons.

NNSA officials said that a joint U.S. national laboratory team, currently led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, helps conduct the important work at Mayak, while credit also is owed to representatives from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories for their past leadership on this project.  Representatives from Sandia designed the innovative physical security features in use at this storage location and facilitated their implementation.  This design incorporates a sophisticated system of access delay that prevents unauthorized handling of the material stored at this location.

The overall MPC&A work by NNSA in Russia is conducted under the framework of a 1999 U.S.-Russia agreement regarding cooperation in the area of nuclear material, physical protection, control and accounting.

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 U.S. and abroad.

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