environmentally safe operation of all industries involving the application of nuclear energy and radioactive isotopes.
As for the problems of ensuring environmental safety in the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, the opinion of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources is in support of projects and scientific innovations that facilitate the transformation of highly active nuclear materials containing long-lived radionuclides into short-lived materials. One temporary option is the creation of sites for the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel in special containers.
Taking into account that such projects are very expensive, each country must take steps on these questions to the extent allowed by its financial resources. However, in doing so countries must observe the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding radiation safety as well as national radioecological safety requirements.
Potential sources of industrial radioactive contamination of the environment in Russia mainly include facilities entailing danger from radiation, such as mining, chemical, and radiochemical complexes, enterprises that enrich nuclear materials or produce or dismantle nuclear weapons, special complexes for the collection and reprocessing of radioactive waste, temporary storage points, nuclear power plants, research reactors, shipbuilding enterprises involved in repairing and decommissioning nuclear-powered ships, and facilities of the Russian Navy and civilian icebreaker fleets.
The most serious problem involved in ensuring radiation safety lies in the presence of enormous volumes of liquid and solid radioactive wastes at radiochemical enterprises, such as the Mayak Production Association, the Siberian Chemical Complex, and the Mining-Chemical Complex. More than 90 percent of all the radioactive waste in Russia is concentrated at these three enterprises. The conditions under which the waste is stored create a real threat to adjoining areas, especially if extreme natural or industrial situations were to occur. The efforts of scientific and technical development efforts must be focused on resolving problems related to the safe storage of radioactive waste, and the financing of these efforts must be given top priority.
The decommissioning of Russian nuclear submarines that have been and are being taken out of service is another serious current problem of global scope. The radioecological situation that has been created at naval facilities and in areas where nuclear submarines are based, operated, repaired, and decommissioned is critical and fraught with the possibility that extreme situations may arise at any moment. Eliminating the consequences of such situations could require financial expenditures comparable to those needed to deal with the effects of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.