Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Krasnoyarsk-26 / Zheleznogorsk
Mining and Chemical Combine [MCA]
N 56°22' E 93°41'

Krasnoyarsk-26, currently Zheleznogorsk, was established in 1950 to produce plutonium for weapons. The facility's original name was the Combine 815. At present it is known as the Mining and Chemical Combine. Zheleznogorsk is situated in the southern part of Central Siberia on the banks of the Yenissei River. It is about 60 km north of Krasnoyarsk, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Zheleznogorsk was built as a satellite city to one of the most important nuclear weapons production centres in Russia - the Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC). This huge underground complex is unique in the world. The city lies about 10 km south of MCC and was founded in 1950, receiving city status in 1954. Its existence was kept secret until very recently, and unlike the other ZATOs, it still does not appear on public maps, although some settlements within the ZATO, such as Dodonovo, do appear. The area first acquired "ZATO" status in 1992 and the city was given its open name Zhelelznogorsk two years later. It had previously been referred to in classified documents as PO-9 ("the ninth"), Krasnoyarsk-26 and SocCity. Zhelelznogorsk was built to a plan drawn up by the Governmental Construction Design Institute-11 (VNIPIET) in St Petersburg.

Krasnoyarsk-26 is located on the Yenisei river approximately 50 km northeast of Krasnoyarsk. The production facility is located approximately 10 km north of the residential area. Facility workers are shuttled to work from the residential area by an electric train. Krasnoyarsk-26 has a population of 100,000. Of them 8,000 work at the nuclear complex. Several more thousand are employed by the Production Association of Applied Mechanics [NPO-PM] producing communication satellites.

The Krasnoyarsk-26 industrial production area (a fenced off area on the surface) is about 17 km2. The sanitary-protection area is 131 km2. The plutonium production complex comprises the reactor plant, the radiochemical plant, the reactor coolant preparation plant, the partially completed RT-2 radiochemical plant, and the engineering plant. A distinctive feature of the plutonium production complex in Krasnoyarsk-26 is that the reactor plant, radiochemical plant, laboratories, and storage facilities are located 200-250 m underground, in a multi-level system of underground tunnels inside a mountain, which include water supply and ventilation systems are located in the mountain. To the north-west of the underground complex are underground reprocessing waste injection wells (the Northern test site).

The Krasnoyarsk-26 reactor plant consisted of three graphite reactors (AD, ADE-1, and ADE-2). Two graphite-moderated, light-water-cooled reactors, similar to the U.S. plutonium production reactors at Hanford, WA, were installed more than 200 meters into a mountainside. Both reactors were cooled by water directly from the Yenisey River. The first went into operation on 25 August 1958, and the second in 1961, producing plutonium-239 for nuclear weapons. In 1964, a third reactor went into operation with a closed-loop cooling system, not directly discharging into the river. The AD and ADE-1 reactors, which started in 1958 and 1961, were shut down in 1992. The third reactor generates heat and electricity for the local populations and cannot be shutdown before a replacement source of power becomes available.

In 1964, a reprocessing plant began operation at Krasnoyarsk-26. (Between 1958 and 1964, irradiated fuel was reprocessed by the radiochemical plants in Chelyabinsk-65 and/or Tomsk-7). The major process flow of the radiochemical plant includes metal uranium dissolution in nitric acid, multi-stage extraction to separate uranium and plutonium, their decontamination from radioactive fission products and plutonium concentrate sorption. Plutonium dioxide - the final product of the Combine - was transferred to the chemical and metallurgical plants in Chelyabinsk-65 and/or Tomsk-7 for conversion to metal and fabrication into nuclear weapon components. Since October 1994, separated plutonium is stored on-site as plutonium dioxide.

The medium- and low-level waste is transported to Severny storage site for deep-well injection into geological formations. The Severny storage site has been used for deep-well injection of low-level waste since 1962 and for medium-level waste since 1967.

In 1972, the Soviet Union began the construction of a complex to store and reprocess fuel from light-water power reactors. The construction of the fuel storage facilities, which are located between the old underground complex and the waste injection wells, was completed in 1976.

The RT-2 Plant was intended to produce MOX-fuel elements and recovered uranium. The designed capacity of the plant is 1,500 tons of spent fuel per year, which means spent fuel reprocessing from the NPP of total 50-80 million kilowatts. The first facility of the plant is the spent nuclear fuel storage that was commissioned in 1985. The storage facility can receive and store 6,000 tons of spent fuel. The construction of the reprocessing plant itself started in 1984 but was halted in 1989 due to the lack of funding and public opposition. The RT-2 reprocessing plant will probably never be completed.

The facility is involved in various defense conversion programs, such as a silicon semiconductor project for production of polycrystal and monocrystal silicon and silicon wafers. In 1996 the mayor of Krasnoyarsk-26 described plans to convert nuclear production facility to a producer of TV sets, microwave ovens, greenhouses, and polyethylene film. The MCA produces electronic parts, alarm systems, data processing systems, as well as color TV assemblies licensed by Samsung.

The Russian Reactor Core Conversion project, directed by a Gore-Chernomyrdin signed agreement, is a high priority of the Administration. This project will stop Russian production of weapons grade plutonium and improve operational safety by converting the reactor core design configuration of the reactors at Seversk and Zheleznogorsk. Currently, each of the three reactors can produce up to a total of 1.5 metric tons of plutonium per year. These reactors also provide critically needed district heat and electricity to Seversk and Zheleznogorsk. Total project costs including the value of the uranium is estimated in October 1998 to be $310 million. Due to the financial situation in Russia, the DoD intends to request additional funding for the design of converting the cores; improvements in safety systems; and infrastructure and materials needed to assure the actual conversion of the reactors; acceptance testing; and, regulatory approval.

The Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has awarded a total of $466 million to US firms Washington Group International and Raytheon Technical Services to begin work to shut down the last three remaining weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Russia. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced the contracts at a May 27, 2003, press conference with Russian Ambassador to the United States Yuri Ushakov at DOE Headquarters, Washington, DC. On March 12, 2003, in Vienna, Austria, Secretary Abraham and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev signed an agreement to reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction by stopping plutonium production at the Russian reactors. As part of the agreement, DOE, working with its partners in Russia, will provide replacement fossil-fuel facilities to produce energy for heat and electricity currently produced by the reactors serving the cities of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk.

The US will assist in building a new fossil fuel plant at Zheleznogorsk. Major work will include providing a cogeneration boiler, an extraction/condensing steam turbine, heating-only boilers, a fuel handling system, an ash removal system, environmental controls, and a hot water pipeline to connect the new plant with the district heating system. The estimated time of project completion is eight years, at which time the reactor will shut down.

Regional Context

Krasnoyarsk enjoyed one of the highest levels of capital investment in the Soviet era and still ranks in Russia's top five thanks to such investment. Krasnoyarsk Krai is one of the key regions of Russia. Rich with natural resources, it possesses highly developed industries playing leading roles in the economy of Russia, and having industry-oriented scientific and intellectual potential. The Krai is constantly ranked among the ten regions with the highest GDP (gross domestic product) in Russia. The Krai's contribution to the industrial production of the country in 1996 was 3.5 percent. In comparison with the slump in production common for Russia in recent years, the Krai has experienced smaller declines.

Located in the central part of Siberia, Krasnoyarsk Krai covers 2.34 million square kilometres, or 13.6 percent of entire Russia. To the north the Krai extends to the Tajmyr Peninsula on the Arctic Ocean; to the east, Irkutsk Oblast and Yakutia Republic; to the south, Tyva republic; and to the west, Tyumen Oblast. The Krai spans several climatic zones, from arctic to continental, and has arctic deserts, tundra and tundra forest - in the north, the taiga - in the central part, and the steppe and forest-steppe - in the south. The south has productive agricultural soils. The population of Krasnoyarsk Krai is only 3.5 million, which is about two percent of the population of Russia. Three fourth of the population is urban. The capital, and the largest city, Krasnoyarsk, located in the south, has about 900,000 residents. Other large cities are Norilsk, Yenisejsk, Achinsk, Igarka, and Dudinka.

The Krai's machine building industry satisfies domestic needs for machines and equipment and represents a diversified system of enterprises located in different cities throughout the Krai. The majority of them (80 percent) are located in the city of Krasnoyarsk. The Scientific-production Enterprise of Applied Mechanics is the largest producer of space apparatus in Russia. The metallurgical industry is closely tied with the mining industry, as many metallurgical enterprises are involved in mining, the most characteristic example is the Norilsk Mining-Metallurgical Plant that produces 80 percent of all nickel and 98 percent of all platinum in Russia. Chemical industry products are ranked the third in exports of the Krai. Chemical enterprises are mainly located in the central part of the Krai, particularly in Krasnoyarsk, Kansk, Achinsk, and Zelenogorsk. The largest are the ones in Krasnoyarsk (plants producing tires, synthetic rubber products, chemical fiber, medicines, varnishes and paints, and particularly "Yenisey" chemical plant), Kansky Biochemical Plant producing spirits, "Sibvolokno" plant in Zelenogorsk, and Zheleznogorsky Mining and Chemical Plant that processes radioactive materials.

Imagery Evaluation Report

As of 07 October 2000 the Space Imaging Carterra Archive had one image of this area, which about 8% cloud-covered.

Sources and Methods

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