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1.700 kg LEU missing at Sillamae plant Estonia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1994) Russian archives seized by the Estonian government show that over a two-year period, 1.700 kilograms of uranium, enriched on average to 2%, from the Sillamae metal and chemical production plant are unaccounted for.

(423.4194) WISE Amsterdam - According to a senior counselor in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mark Sinisoo: "We're hunting for it. There's a big question about what happened to it". He says that everything from weapons-grade uranium to very-low enriched uranium was handled at the plant. According to the archives, analysis showed actual loss to be well below acceptable levels, but in the book-keeping records, the maximum acceptable losses were recorded. The discrepancy amounts to 1.700 kilos of average 2% enriched uranium over two years. Material that might have been lost in electrostatic filters during processing should have been recovered, so that would not account for any of the missing uranium.

Archives show that fuel processing was done at Sillamae for about five years. Because it was one of the smallest of 16 fuel processing plants in the former Soviet Union, it was used as a testing ground for new technology since it was easier to retool than a larger plant.

Radioactive waste from the plant is stored in a lake; with consequences for the Baltic Sea (see WISE-NC 391.3812).

Source: Nucleonics Week, 3 November 1994 (page 17)
Contact: Estonian Green Movement, Box 3207, 2000090 Talinn Estonia.