Russia sets up group to tackle Mayak plant’s environmental problems

Publish date: January 17, 2006

Russia's Agency for Nuclear Power said on January 10 that it had set up a working group to address environmental problems at a nuclear processing plant in the southern Urals and raise awareness of people living near the plant, RIA Novosti reported.

A criminal investigation was opened against the plant, Mayak, in April 2005 after breaches of environmental protection regulations were found during an inspection that revealed the plant had released more than 10 million cubic meters of radioactive waste into the nearby Techa River.

The working group, which comprises Mayak executives and members of local environmental organizations, as well as others, will involve companies and foreign experts in the search for solutions to the problem. Russian environmentalists have called for the plant to be shut down.

The Nuclear Power Agency maintains that the plant is important for the country’s economic development, and Kiriyenko has said the agency will allocate 250 million rubles ($8.7 million) in 2006, or 2.5 times more than in 2005, to improve environmental safety at the Mayak plant. However, experts have suggested that this will not be enough to address all the problems, reported RIA Novosti.