Money for Tomsk accident clean up misused

Publish date: March 23, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Two-hundred-thousand USD allocated for the clean up programme after the 1993 Tomsk accident were misused by officials in charge, reported the Tomsk weekly "Novaya Sibir". A criminal investigation has been launched.

The District Attorney’s office of Tomsk county launched a criminal investigation into the case of misuse of funds allocated for the Tomsk accident cleanup. According to investigators, some 200,000 USD were provided for this purpose two years ago. The money was misused by officials responsible for the cleanup. The bills of exchange received by the Tomsk State Inspection in charge of water reservoirs control were cashed and used for private business. The State Inspection was to perform a part of the clean up programme launched after the accident.

Tomsk-7 houses the Siberian chemical combine. The combine includes facilities for a complete nuclear fuel processing cycle. Before 1990, the complex manufactured mostly military products, such as military reactor fuel for weapons-grade plutonium.

Tomsk accident in 1993
The accident in question occurred on April 6, 1993, in the closed city of Tomsk-7 (Seversk). The event took place at the third radiochemical shop, where a vessel holding uranium at the final stage of enrichment exploded. The immediate cause of the explosion was a sharp rise in temperature when nitric acid was poured into the vessel. The vessel contained 29 tons of nuclear material with a total activity of 560 Ci. The explosion contaminated an area of 1,500 square metres on the site, throwing uranium and plutonium into the atmosphere and contaminating nearby areas of forest and one of the adjacent villages. While local officials claimed the accident reached the third level on the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES), independent experts state that the event scored an impressing 4th level on the INES.