WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The first new boiler and turbine of a fossil fuel power plant being refurbished by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is up and running in the city of Seversk in Siberia, marking a major milestone in a nonproliferation project to shut down two weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Russia.
"This is an important milestone in a key international nonproliferation project. With boiler and turbine components operational, we have turned the corner from construction to operation. This is a significant step toward shutting down the reactors, effectively eliminating the production of 800 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium per year," said William Tobey, NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.
NNSA's project is scheduled to be completed by December 2008. The fossil fuel power plant will provide heat and electricity so that two of the three remaining Russian reactors producing weapons-grade plutonium can be shut down. The reactors originally began operation in the mid-1960s to produce weapons material, while providing the necessary heat and electricity to the city of Seversk in southwest Siberia.
In addition to the project in Seversk, NNSA is also constructing a fossil-fuel plant to provide replacement heat and power for the city of Zheleznogorsk so the last Russian weapons-grade plutonium production reactor can be shut down by December 2010.
Both projects are part of the NNSA's Office of Nuclear Risk Reduction, which works to reduce weapons-grade materials throughout the world.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
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