The Russian environmentalists repeatedly demanded to close down the Kurchatov nuclear centre situated in the densely populated area. The Institute originally hosted 12 reactors. Some of them have been shutdown and dismantled. Today only six reactors remain in operation. According to the Director on external relations of the Kurchatov Research Institute Andrey Gagarinsky the most powerful 40 MW reactor was shut down due to the fact that the Institute failed to prove its complete safety in various accidents like plane crash or flood in the living area. Another research reactor Gamma was shut down after 20 years of operation.
On October 27, President of the Kurchatov centre Yevgeny Velikhov confirmed the fact of the reactors shutdown in an interview to ITAR-TASS. He also stated that decontamination of the Institutes territory is nearly finished. The nuclear centre specialists together with the associated Institute in St Petersburg created three unique facilities for decontamination. One of them is used to clean the soil containing high level of radioactivity of radioactive waste. Velikhov claims 90% of the soil is returned to the environment and only 10% is sent for disposal. The metal generated after the reactors decommissioning is shipped to the special facility in St Petersburg where the collected radioactivity is concentrated in the dross. Besides, the facility near Moscow helps to remove 95% of radioactivity from the radioactive resins and organic materials. Velikhov assured that all radioactive materials are transported in the special containers and heavily guarded. Loss or disappearance of the radioactive materials during shipment as well as radiation leak are absolutely impossible he said to ITAR-TASS.