A U.S.-Japanese venture will build a nuclear waste treatment plant in Vladivostok according to a 1993 agreement between Russia and Japan. A contract is expected to be signed in coming days between Babcock & Wilcox Co. of Barberton, Ohio, and the Japanese Tomen Corp. The plant, to be built near a nuclear submarine dismantling plant in Vladivostok, will have the capacity to process 247,000 cubic feet of waste per year. Construction is expected to be completed by late 1996. An estimated 141,000 cubic feet of liquid radioactive waste water is stored aboard two tankers in the region. Due to the tankers’ crumbling bulkheads, the waste water could spill and cause an environmental catastrophe. In addition, some 45 mothballed nuclear submarines rust away in nearby military ports with liquid waste in their spent reactors. (15)
Russia had been dumping much of the waste from its decommissioned nuclear submarines into the seafood-rich waters of the Sea of Japan. It stopped the practice after the 1993 pact was reached. Since then, government officials in Moscow, the city of Vladivostok, and Japan have been bogged down in a three-way debate over which contractors to hire to build the reprocessing plant.
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