Some 450 cubic meters of radioactive nuclear material is missing from a storage site in Chechnya, according to a report in the Sunday Times said to be based on official Russian documents. The paper disclosed that the material had been stored at the Radon factory near the village of Tolstoy-Yurt, north of Grozny. It included weapons-grade uranium-235 and plutonium as well as quantities of cesium-137 and strontium-90. When the war began in November, 1994 there were some 900 cubic meters of material in the plant’s storage site, with a combined radioactivity level of 1,500 curies.
The paper said that one of the documents was from Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s office and was dated March of this year. That document admitted to the "disappearance and unsanctioned removal of radioactive materials" from the Radon plant. The article inferred that the material was most likely in the form of diluted nuclear waste rather than in the concentrated form that would be necessary if it were to be used in an atomic weapon. Nevertheless, Noble Prize winning nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat noted that the material "could be very dangerous to ingest or inhale. Even very small amounts can cause cancer." (Sunday Times, November 10)
Busy Weekend for Western Oilmen in Azerbaijan.