Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 43
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism 2 Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources in Russia This chapter addresses the threats posed by inadequately protected ionizing radiation sources (IRSs) in Russia. After reviewing the effectiveness of current procedures to protect IRSs, particular attention is directed to (1) why inadequately protected IRSs pose a threat to the United States and U.S assets abroad, and (2) why it is in the U.S. interest to cooperate with Russia to counter this threat and other aspects of radiological terrorism that could have roots in Russia. To better appreciate the inventory of IRSs currently located in Russia, the committee entered into a contract with the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBRAE) to prepare a report on the distribution of IRSs within the country and to analyze a number of aspects of the physical protection, control, and accounting of these IRSs. This contract extended previous efforts by IBRAE, which had been working for several years with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help obtain a more accurate inventory and to assess the general status of the security of IRSs in Russia. In addition, the committee obtained first-hand information during its consultations and site visits to Russia in 2005. However, hundreds of thousands of IRSs are in use, in storage, or simply lost within the vast territory of the country. Dozens of federal and local government entities are involved in controlling IRSs. Thousands of enterprises, institutes, storage sites, and disposal facilities have IRSs in their possession. Unfortunately, the committee is unaware of readily available information on many of these activities. Thus, this report
OCR for page 44
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism presents only very general impressions of conditions and trends concerning a complicated but very important topic. OVERVIEW OF THE INVENTORY AND SECURITY OF IRSS As noted above, Russia possesses a very large number of IRSs, dating from production during Soviet times and continuing to today with production in Russia. The number of IRSs has been reported by IBRAE to be more than 500,000, but experts from this institute and other organizations readily acknowledge that the number is probably much greater and could be as high as 1 million or more. Moreover, Russia has long been one of the world’s largest exporters of both radionuclides and IRSs. Of special concern are the thousands of high-activity IRSs in International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Categories 1, 2, and 3 that were produced during the Soviet era and distributed throughout the Soviet Union. A significant number were also exported to other states that had close ties to Moscow. Many of these IRSs are still located in other former Soviet states as well as in Russia. A particularly troublesome aspect of the Soviet nuclear legacy is the large number of inadequately protected high-activity IRSs that have been used as radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) to supply small amounts of electrical power at remote sites, primarily in Russia but with a few also sent to outlying states. As indicated in Box 1-1, there were occasional attempts to steal IRSs during Soviet times. However, it is generally believed that the overall security of IRSs was adequate, and there were few reported attempts of thefts for illegal trafficking in IRSs that were in the possession of Soviet institutions. As shown in Boxes 2-1 and 2-2, theft has become a more serious concern in Russia in recent years. According to press reports, the interest of Chechen insurgents and criminal elements in Russia in malevolent uses of radioactive material, particularly IRSs, is substantial. Other press reports that are reflected in Box 2-2 raise questions about the security of RTGs. The accumulation of these press reports, although they could not be validated by authoritative sources, raises significant concerns. The history of a particularly significant event is set forth in Box 2-3. During its visits to Russia, the committee learned from several colleagues that security of IRSs rapidly eroded during the dramatic political and economic transitions in Russia in the early 1990s. The state system was in turmoil. The institutions that had IRSs in their possession lost much of their financial base, and individuals in charge were often changed with little advance notice. Indeed, the authority vested in various components of the regulatory system was in a state of flux, and the government soon lost track of very large numbers of IRSs. Many privatized institutions stopped reporting their inventories to the government.
OCR for page 45
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism BOX 2-1 Examples of Incidents Involving Radioactive Materials in Russia 1987: A Cs-137 source was placed in the back of an armchair, seriously injuring three persons in Norilsk. 1988: Two cesium chloride sources were broken open in a Moscow apartment and the contamination spread, requiring a major cleanup of a portion of a 13-story building. 1993: A Cs-137 source was placed in the back of an armchair eventually killing one person in Moscow. 1995: Cs-137 was discovered in a container in a public park in Moscow. 1999: IRSs were stolen from a Radon special combine chemical factory in Chechnya. 2002: Plans were discovered for a dirty bomb incident using one or more stolen IRSs from a petrochemical facility in Chechnya (see Box 2-3). SOURCES: For examples from 1987, 1988, and 1993, see Ilyin, L. A., O. A. Kochetkov, M. P. Grinev, M. I. Grachev, I. A. Gusev, and A. A. Kriminsky. 2004. Radiological consequences of the unauthorized application of ionizing radiation sources: Response and prevention. Eleventh International Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association, Madrid, Spain, May 23-28. Example from 1995, Izmailovsky Park, Moscow, Russia. See Jones, S. 1997. Loose Nukes. Frontline. Show Number 1504. Television program. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation. Available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/nukes/timeline/tl11.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. For example from 1999, see Krock, L., and R. Deusser. 2003. Dirty Bomb: Chronology of Events. Nova: PBS. Available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/dirtybomb/chrono.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. For example from 2002, see Kuzmin, A. V. 2003. Spetsnaz. Television program. Ostankino Television Company for Channel 1. Some soon declared bankruptcy and simply walked away from their responsibilities for controlling and accounting for IRSs. Often scavengers collected what they thought was usable metal from equipment that may have contained IRSs. Reports of IRSs being found abandoned in public places and in dormant industrial facilities in recent years have been manifold. The past political and economic upheaval has dramatically affected the physical protection, control, and accounting of IRSs. The need to upgrade security is clear. Thus, it is not surprising that in Russia, accurate inventories of in-use and other IRSs are particularly difficult to determine because of the insti-
OCR for page 46
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism BOX 2-2 Examples of Incidents Involving RTGs in Russia 2003: Thieves stripped metal casings off RTGs at three lighthouses in the Far North. 2004: An RTG belonging to the Russian Navy was dismantled by thieves looking for nonferrous metals in the Far East. 2004: Three RTGs were found on a military base near Norilsk where they were left behind by a military unit that had departed from the base. 2004: A helicopter encountered bad weather in the Arctic and jettisoned two RTGs suspended on cables; recovery was not possible for eight months. 2004: An RTG lost during helicopter transport in 1997 was located off the northern coast of Sakhalin Island. SOURCES: For the first three examples, see Alimov, R. 2005. Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators. Bellona working paper. Belona Foundation. Available online at http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/incidents/37598.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. For fourth example, see Alimov, R. and C. Digges. 2005. Status Report: RTGs Still an Underestimated Foe in Securing Loose Nukes in Russia. Bellona Foundation. Available online at http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/incidents/37566.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. For final example, see RIA Novosti—Russian News and Information Agency. October 27, 2004. Radioisotope Generator to Be Recovered from Sea of Okhotsk in Spring 2005. Available online at http://en.rian.ru/onlinenews/20041027/39772095.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. tutional turmoil and general loss of control that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Apparently, many records were lost or discarded during that time. Nevertheless, recent reports are helpful in estimating the current levels and IAEA categories of IRSs in the country. IBRAE reports that IRSs are used widely in various industries in Russia today. As previously noted, IBRAE estimates that more than 500,000 IRSs are located in Russia. According to a report from Rostekhnadzor (the national regulatory agency in Russia), more than 2,100 organizations are licensed to have IRSs. Rostekhnadzor conducted more than 3,200 inspections of these facilities during 2004. During 2005, 100 additional facilities applied for licenses.1 The IBRAE report points out that in one of the regions it studied— namely, the Urals region—more than 270 facilities are licensed to use IRSs, 1 Communication to the committee from Rostekhnadzor via e-mail, October 2005.
OCR for page 47
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism BOX 2-3 Three Related Incidents Involving IRSs in Russia Incident 1 In February 2000, several cases of unusual health symptoms were reported in Grozny, Chechnya, including skin redness, edema, and bloodshot eyes. The largest number of cases was in the Zavodsky region, which was not under federal army control at the time. An Intelligence Service team was sent to Grozny to investigate. The team’s first attempt to locate the radiation source failed because fighting broke out while the team was measuring radiation in the area. Two suspected insurgents connected to the opposition fighter Khakimov were later apprehended in Grozny. They dropped a cylinder while trying to escape (the contents and disposition of the cylinder were not reported). Intelligence indicated that Khakimov was planning a terrorist attack on a major city in Russia. Khakimov was thought to be capable of perpetrating a radiological attack, and he was thought to be in a particular suburb of Moscow. The search for stolen IRSs began in that suburb. An IRS was discovered in an abandoned trailer that had an unusually high radiation reading. It was recovered using robots. Incident 2 In Grozny, the Intelligence Service team gained access to the Zavodsky region again. The team observed a patch of ground where the snow had melted and the vegetation had died. An IRS the size of a pencil was found, emitting radiation that in 20 minutes constituted a “deadly exposure.” The source was recovered with robots and placed in a 2-ton radiation-proof transportation container. Incident 3 An insurgent turned himself in at the commandant’s office in Grozny. He testified that he had assisted Khakimov by organizing the theft of IRSs from an inactive chemical plant in the Zavodsky region. The plant formerly had nine sources for use in the polymerization of unvulcanized rubber. The IRSs were stored on-site in a special chamber where they had remained even after the plant was no longer in operation. The path to the plant was mined, and the chamber holding the sources was sealed by a lead and steel door. Insurgents had accessed the chamber through a hatch on the fourth floor of the building. Radiation levels in and around the hatch were high, and the hatch was protected with a concrete sarcophagus. The lead and steel door to the chamber was destroyed, and robots were sent in with cameras to investigate the IRS container, which had been opened. The first robot failed due to extreme conditions and high temperatures in the chamber. A second robot removed the first robot and continued the operation. The second robot’s cameras revealed that the container had been opened improperly and seven sources had fallen beneath the container. Discovery of the seven IRSs beneath the container accounted for all nine IRSs from the chemical plant, since two had been collected earlier in Moscow and Grozny (see incidents 1 and 2, above). The IRSs were placed in a special container and taken by truck to Mozdok. Personnel from Radon met the truck there and loaded the container onto a train. SOURCE: Kuzmin, A. V. 2003. Spetsnaz. Television Program. Ostankino Television Company for Channel 1.
OCR for page 48
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism but there are an unknown number of defunct facilities at which IRSs may still be located. Also, more than 1,000 radioactive waste storage and/or disposal sites reportedly contain an unknown number of old IRSs in various stages of disposal. They range from IRSs lying in piles of rubble to vitrified packets of IRSs in secure wells. Russia has many unwanted IRSs or orphan sources. During one of the committee’s site visits, a Rostekhnadzor official stated that in winter, unwanted sources have been thrown at times into snow-covered areas where they were eventually discovered by the authorities many months later.2 As another indicator of the extent of the problem of adequately protecting IRSs, during 2001-2003, 391 radiation accidents and incidents were reported through Ministry of Health channels. Four of the six types of events that were reported involved IRSs: abandoned IRSs, IRSs discovered in scrap metal, breakage of IRSs during geophysical prospecting, and thefts of IRSs.3 While these numbers of incidents are significant, they are not dissimilar to those reported annually in the United States through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Nuclear Materials Event Database. However, a meaningful comparison is difficult since the status of IRSs in use, storage, and excess is different in the two countries. THE LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR SECURITY OF IRSs During the 1980s, the Soviet Union had an evolving structure for managing IRSs. The facilities of the ministry that was responsible for atomic energy at that time were the only producers of IRSs. Using the Russian firm Izotop as the distributor, the ministry provided IRSs to the entire Soviet Union. In 1991, just before the Soviet Union splintered into 15 independent states, the ministry was in the process of preparing a comprehensive database of IRSs using a network of 16 regional information centers, but the work was never completed. Instead the ministry suffered the organizational turmoil experienced by most government bodies during the political transition. Matters were even worse in some of the other 14 newly independent states. Many of these states inherited IRSs that originally were distributed within countries under the direction of Moscow. In some cases the tech- 2 Communications to the committee from Rostekhnadzor, May 2005. 3 Romanovich, I. K. 2005. Preventing Radiological Terrorism: Problems of Radiation Safety. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by St. Petersburg Scientific Research Institute of Radiation Hygiene, Moscow, March 14-15; see Appendix D.
OCR for page 49
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism nical expertise and databases required to deal with the IRSs disappeared with the exodus of Russian specialists. Further adding to the confusion in Russia, in 1994 Gosatomnadzor (GAN), the unit of the newly created Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) responsible for the safety and disposal of IRSs, became a separate regulatory organization. It struggled for years to establish its independence in nuclear safety regulations and enforcement. Other organizations such as the Ministry of Health and its predecessor and successor organizations have been responsible for the safety of personnel involved with radioactive materials. Its institutes have monitored hazardous activities at large enterprises and collected their own databases. However, that ministry has also gone through various transformations. In recent times, the Federal Medical Biological Agency has become important in monitoring hazardous activities at selected facilities, while the recently reorganized Sanitary Epidemiological Service issues sanitary passports that authorize activities involving radioactive materials. Also in Soviet times, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Committee for State Security (KGB) were responsible for countering criminal activities involving radioactive materials along with their many other assignments. These and other security services have been restructured, and roles and responsibilities have been redefined. Information was not available to the committee concerning details of their past or current responsibilities and activities with regard to IRSs. In 2003, President Putin led a restructuring of the entire government. The number of ministries was greatly reduced, and their roles and responsibilities were redefined. For example, GAN became a department in a new federal service (Rostekhnadzor). Minatom became the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) with responsibilities quite similar to those of Minatom. The foregoing changes have compounded Russia’s difficulties in managing IRSs. In some of the new ministries and agencies, the security of IRSs may have moved downward on their priority lists as they struggled to establish their roles in the new government. Fortunately, some organizations, such as those that report to the Committee for Shipbuilding, had traditions of strict security approaches, and these traditions reportedly continue despite organizational adjustments. Thus, although the nuclear industry in Russia is 60 years old, it is still adjusting its regulatory and organizational approaches. Numerous laws and regulations are now in place to address almost all aspects of the security of IRSs. These include requirements for physical protection, control, and accounting, as noted below. They call for a variety of licenses and documentation of activities. They cover transportation, export, and disposal of IRSs.
OCR for page 50
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism In general, Rosatom has the ultimate responsibility for control and accounting of IRSs within the country, with the exception of sources under the purview of the Ministry of Defense. (The committee did not have adequate information to comment on the security of IRSs within the military complex other than observations concerning RTGs, which are presented later in this and succeeding chapters.) Organizations that possess IRSs have the primary responsibility for the physical protection of IRSs and for providing information to Rosatom, directly or indirectly, concerning the control and accounting of their inventories. The responsibilities of Rosatom are set forth in “Improving the Safety of the Management of IRSs,” Order No. 68, February 24, 2005, as follows: Providing methodological guidance: organizing safety, licensing, and certification efforts; and authorizing organizations of other ministries and committees to operate atomic energy facilities, including management of IRSs; Issuing certificates on packaging and transport of IRSs; Organizing systems for state accounting and control of IRSs; Organizing warnings and handling the consequences of emergency situations, as discussed below; and Conducting studies of the causes of accidents and helping to eliminate the consequences of accidents.4 However, some Russian officials readily admit that enforcement is a problem. When organizations do not comply with Rosatom requirements for providing data on their inventories, Rosatom has two options: send a reprimand to the organization or report the violation to Rostekhnadzor, which has the authority to withdraw the organization’s operating license. Rostekhnadzor officials pointed out to the committee that if a license is withdrawn, the agency has no means to remove or secure the IRSs that are affected. In short, Rosatom is attempting to manage the problems of inadequate security on a comprehensive basis, but its limited enforcement authority is distributed among a number of organizations and their affiliated branches operating at both the federal and the local levels.5 As in the United States, a weak link in the regulatory framework is end-of-life management of IRSs. Responsibilities become unclear when IRSs are no longer needed and are abandoned. 4 Agapov, A. M. 2005. Managing Radiation Sources More Safely. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by Rosatom, Moscow, March 14-15; see Appendix D. 5 Committee visit to Rosatom, March 16, 2005; see Appendix C.
OCR for page 51
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism On the whole, many skilled and dedicated people with relevant expertise are working on improving legal and regulatory systems related to IRSs and implementing security programs at the facility level. However, while organizational responsibilities seem to be reasonably well defined, the committee believes that the information presented in this chapter, including reported efforts of Chechen insurgents to use IRSs for malevolent purposes, calls for greater efforts by the Russian authorities and international partners to upgrade security of IRSs. PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF SOURCES AT RUSSIAN FACILITIES The following key laws and regulations concerning physical protection of IRSs have been enacted in recent years: Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On the Use of Atomic Energy,” No. 170-FZ, enacted November 21, 1995, and amended March 28, 2002;6 Rules for the Physical Security of Nuclear Materials, Nuclear Facilities, and Nuclear Material Storage Sites, Russian Government Resolution No. 264, March 7, 1997;7 Rules for the Physical Security of Radiation Sources, Storage Sites, and Radioactive Substances, NP-034-01; and8 Rules for the Physical Protection of Radiation Sources and Radioactive Substances During Shipment, draft version, Federal Norms and Rules.9 The laws and regulations address four important safety aspects of IRSs that have considerable relevance to their security: Technical requirements of physical protection systems: security alarms, surveillance over IRSs, communications, and intrusion detection, 6 IBRAE. 2005. P. 7 in Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism. Prepared for the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism. 7 Pervin, V. L. 2005. Regulating Activities Regarding the Physical Security of Nuclear and Radiation Hazard Facilities. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by Rostekhnadzor, Moscow, March 14-15; see Appendix D. 8 Ibid. 9 Andryushin, N. F. 2005. Preventative Measures to Stop the Unauthorized Spread of Radioactive Substances and Radioactive Wastes. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by Rostekhnadzor, Moscow, Russia, March 14-15, 2005; see Appendix D.
OCR for page 52
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Engineering requirements: construction of structures, access checkpoints for vehicles and individuals, and barricades at checkpoints, Security unit operations: access pass control, access to IRSs and to storage sites, and detention of persons involved in unauthorized access, and Classification of consequences of unauthorized access: radiation effects on the population, radiation effects limited to the sanitary-protective zone, radiation effects limited to areas where IRSs are located, and radiation effects limited to buildings where IRSs are located.10 Although these laws and regulations have been enacted, they have not been fully implemented. Conflicting reports have been issued by key Russian organizations. For example, in 2004 a spokesman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Rosatom, pronounced “that all radioactive material and waste in Russia were under full control.” Whereas, at the same meeting a spokesman for the regulatory service Rostekhnadzor said that “a state system of accounting for radioactive materials and radioactive waste has not factually been created in any full sense.”11 Similarly with regard to protection of powerful RTGs with Sr-90 activity levels ranging from 40,000 to 150,000 curies each, there are conflicting views as to their future. In 2003, officials of the Russian National Technical Physics and Automation Research Institute stated that “[RTGs] pose a serious security and safety threat and should all be taken out of service. [The design lives are] 10 to 15 years, and … no repair or maintenance has been done on any of these units since 1991.” On the other hand, officials from Rosatom were described in the same report as stating “that the generators [RTGs] are technically sound and should not be completely removed from service without adequate replacement power.”12 A report by the committee’s principal collaborator in Russia, IBRAE, summarized the situation in several regions of the country as follows: Within the majority of the surveyed facilities, the conditions of management of IRSs meet the requirements for physical protection. However, some organizations have problems with security provisions for manage- 10 Committee visit to Rostekhnadzor, Moscow, Russia, March 16, 2005; see list of committee activities, Appendix C. 11 Alimov, R. 2004. Nuclear Officials Talk About What Isn’t There. Belona Foundation. Available online at http://www.bellona.no/en/international/Russia/nuke_industry/34713.html. Accessed November 20, 2006. 12 U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). 2003. P. 14 in Nuclear Nonproliferation: U.S. and International Assistance Efforts to Control Sealed Radioactive Sources Need Strengthening. GAO-03-638. Washington, D.C.: GAO.
OCR for page 53
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism ment of IRSs of elevated activity. Most of these facilities belong either to public health institutions or to organizations that possess IRSs that are not being used.13 The following on-scene observations by the committee and by IBRAE during 2004-2005 highlight security problems at a few facilities in Russia. Facility 1: Four Cs-137 sources of about 5,000 curies each are used and maintained in an unprotected room of a poorly guarded building adjacent to a forested area. There are no fences around the building, which is easily accessible by an open highway. The principal problem for thieves would be their personal protection as they extract the sources from the floor-level wells where they are stored when not in use. Facility 2: A flimsy door having a lock susceptible to manipulation with a skeleton key opens into a room with two irradiators that use Cs-137 and Co-60 sources, with activity levels in the hundreds of curies. A nearby building houses irradiators using Co-60 sources that originally had activities of thousands of curies but have decayed to hundreds of curies, also behind a poorly secured door. The Gammator-type irradiator could be wheeled out by two men with a handcart. The source storage area in the basement also has primitive locks. Although the entire facility has perimeter security, a number of plausible scenarios of insider theft could be developed, such as placing stolen IRSs on vehicles that enter and exit the facility with minimal checks. This particular facility had many IRSs of different kinds—about 6,000 in total. It has more than 1,000 sealed IRSs—most small but, as described above, many large ones. According to staff, 70 percent of the IRSs are spent or past their working service life. However, changes in regulatory requirements for transportation and disposal had increased the cost of disposal by a factor of five during the previous two years, thereby inhibiting plans to dispose of any IRSs. The cost of disposing of one of the largest excess IRSs at a Radon facility was estimated at U.S. $90,000. Facility 3: A dormant facility retains 36 sources of Co-60 with total activity of 20,000 curies. The storage room is on the ground floor of a building with a direct entrance into the courtyard. Under the window of the room is a bin for receiving waste paper and glass for recycling. The wooden door is covered by sheet metal. The room is equipped with outdated fire and security alarm systems with externally exposed cables 13 IBRAE. 2005. P. 17 in Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism. Prepared for the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism.
OCR for page 58
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism ship them to a disposal facility. Fortunately, the U.S. government has the financial resources and policies to rectify the situation of unwanted IRSs accumulating throughout the United States through a recovery program. In Russia, however, the need for a comparable program may be even greater, but resources are in very short supply. RESPONDING TO AN RDD ATTACK IBRAE and other organizations have examined a variety of possible radiological attack scenarios in Russia, particularly in Moscow. These include (1) placing a Co-60 source under a seat in the metro where it remains for an extended period of time; (2) detonating a Cs-137-based radiological dispersion device (RDD) in a metro station; (3) contaminating the drinking water supply with powder or pellets obtained from an IRS; (4) spreading liquid contaminated with Cs-137 or another radionuclide on roadways heavily trafficked by vehicles that could pick up the radionuclides and spread them throughout a city; and (5) detonating a Cs-137 or Am-241-based RDD at an outdoor concert or other crowded venue in an important urban area.18 As discussed in Chapter 1, the direct human health impacts of such scenarios will depend on the characteristics of the RDD or other type of radiation source and the details of the detonation or dispersal scenarios. IBRAE concludes that in some instances the health effects could be compounded significantly by disruption caused by possible panic and restriction of access of first responders to contaminated areas. Potentially devastating economic consequences, including costs for reclamation of land and buildings, could follow. The Russian government is taking a number of steps to prepare for such emergencies, ranging from the development of sophisticated technical analyses of the possible spread of radioactive clouds to assessments of potential consequences of an RDD detonation. Many relevant capabilities were developed at IBRAE following the Chernobyl accident. The increase of worldwide concern over the safety of similar reactors in Russia has been a further stimulus. Over the years, Russian authorities have responded to many terrorist attacks, particularly in Moscow. Also, there have been incidents at nuclear power stations and other nuclear facilities that have required urgent responses. Of course, the massive response to the Chernobyl event involved many teams of first responders and nuclear specialists—often led by specialists from institutions located in Russia—on site for many months and even years. 18 Ibid., pp. 23-38.
OCR for page 59
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Rosatom has developed a comprehensive approach to provide emergency rescue and related services. A crisis center operates continually within Rosatom both to coordinate information and to manage day-to-day activities. Special emergency services have been identified throughout the country, with essentially all of Rosatom’s resources on call should a need arise. Special antiterrorist forces have been organized for deployment from both closed nuclear cities and other cities. Special transportation units are available, and a special militarized mountain rescue brigade is on call.19 Rosatom is but one of a number of ministries and agencies that is prepared to respond to an RDD attack. The emergency response ministry (Emercom), the health authorities, the police, the security services, and many other federal and local organizations would play important roles. The immediate responsibilities—and indeed the longer-term structure of the response—would depend to a considerable degree on where the incident occurred and the seriousness of the ensuing contamination. Whereas Moscow appears to have impressive capabilities and experience for responding to an RDD attack, the remainder of the nation’s cities are less well prepared. In many cities, the financial difficulties of the 1990s severely weakened staffs and equipment capabilities to respond to any type of crisis. However, in Moscow, the committee observed a level of sophistication regarding emergency operations and response capability that should be of considerable interest to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The public’s response is critical when considering the disruption and damage that would be caused by a radiological attack. Psychological issues have received considerable attention in Russia, particularly through studies and practical experience in counseling victims of terrorist attacks by institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and other organizations. The Russian public’s reaction to an RDD attack remains difficult to predict, of course. Would it be any different than a response in the United States, for example? It seems likely that the public would quickly comply with government decisions on evacuating areas as was the case at Chernobyl. At Chernobyl, however, the evacuated areas were small towns and villages with limited populations and economic activity—far different from the evacuation of metropolitan areas where populations are larger and where many people and organizations have invested heavily—investments they might well be determined to protect. With the passage of time following an incident, mistrust of government assessments and decisions will most likely arise among some ele- 19 Agapov, A. M. 2005. Managing Radiation Sources More Safely. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by Rosatom, Moscow, March 14-15; see Appendix D.
OCR for page 60
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism ments of the population. The Russian government has not been strong on risk communication in the past—a situation that is not unique to Russia. While government services for evacuees are likely to be substantial in scope, as has been the case with previous accidents and attacks, the quality and sustainability of such services may not be high. The committee noted one apprehension among some Russian colleagues regarding the effects of a radiological attack that is not voiced in the West, namely the potential for political instability that an effective RDD event might cause as various elements of the population lose confidence in the government’s ability to protect its citizens. EXPORTS OF IRSs FROM RUSSIA Russia is the world’s largest exporter of long-lived radionuclides that can be used in IRSs and of IRSs themselves. The exact number of IRSs exported from Russia is not publicly available. The committee was informed that the Mayak Production Association (usually referred to as Mayak) produces more than 20,000 IRSs annually using Ir-192, Cs-137, and Co-60. Other radionuclides produced include Sr-90, Am-241, Am/Be, Pu/Be, Po-210, Np-237, and Pm-147. Mayak delivers the new IRSs, and it is prepared to receive spent IRSs through specialized companies, particularly Izotop in St. Petersburg. However, this policy does not extend to full return of IRSs after they leave the country. In recent years, Amersham and its successor companies (now QSA Global) have played key roles in marketing IRSs produced at Mayak in the West. The Russian company Techsnabexport handles exports for Mayak. It has handled large orders such as the 2003 purchase of 40 kilograms of Pu-238 by the U.S. government. A similar purchase in the 1990s was for material to be incorporated into RTGs to provide electrical power for deep space exploration missions. Mayak’s role is discussed in additional detail later in this chapter. During the past decade, exports have increased significantly. It has been estimated that about 90 percent of all new IRSs produced in Russia are exported. Russia is the only producer of Cs-137 for worldwide distribution, and it produces roughly one-half of the world’s Co-60. The second largest producer of IRSs after Mayak is the Scientific Research Institute for Atomic Reactors at Dmitrovgrad. The institute specializes in high-activity IRSs, and it uses an internal department for distribution, nationally and internationally. Other producers of IRSs for both international and domestic markets include the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk and the Radium Institute in St. Petersburg.20 20 Information presented at U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources, Moscow, March 14-15, 2005.
OCR for page 61
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Russian facilities must obtain licenses from the Ministry for Economic Development to export IRSs. Rosatom plays a very important role because most IRSs are produced in facilities under its jurisdiction. For IRSs produced outside its complex, Rosatom may serve as an adviser to the Ministry for Economic Development. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the opportunity to comment on the appropriateness of exports. When internal ground transportation of IRSs to the border on the route to export is required, Rostekhnadzor and the Ministry for Health and Social Services issue licenses and sanitary passports to the transporters, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs also issues certificates of approval of transport. At border checkpoints, the Customs Committee reviews all documents, confirms appropriateness of shipping containers, and as necessary, confirms the nature of the IRSs using appropriate detection equipment. Russian government authorities review the export license requests. Russian manufacturers and distributors rely principally on past records of responsible stewardship of customers of IRSs. The individual contracts stipulate appropriate handling of the IRSs. However, a systematic method by which the Russian government confirms that the recipients are authorized by their own governments to own and use IRSs does not seem to be in place. Exported radioactive material may be returned to Russia if it is to be recycled, but not if it is classified as “waste.” Of course, for all IRSs that are to be returned to Russia, the problem of financial responsibility for shipment, processing, and storage—together with associated security measures—arises. Historically Russia accepts such material only when the sender pays all costs within Russia, which may discourage owners from returning IRSs that are no longer needed or have exceeded their service life. Consequently, the system of exports of IRSs from Russia requires special attention to their security after they leave Russia.21 The efficiency with which Mayak produces and distributes its products to the satisfaction of Western companies is impressive. Since these exports generate considerable income, they receive high priority. The contrast with the inadequate attention to poor security conditions at many sites where excess and unwanted IRSs are located is striking indeed. 21 Maksimenko, A. D. 2005. Production of Ionizing Radiation Sources at the Mayak Production Association and Efforts to Ensure Their Safe Use and Disposal. Presentation at the U.S.-Russian Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources by Mayak Production Association, Moscow, March 14-15. Another source that is helpful but not entirely up to date is Cochran, J. R., S. W. Longley, L. L. Price, and K. J. Lipinski. 2003. Pp. 34-56 in The Adequacy of Current Import and Export Controls on Sealed Radioactive Sources. SAND Report. SAND2003-3767. Albuquerque, N.M.: Sandia National Laboratories.
OCR for page 62
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism The committee has no information on the control and protection of IRSs within the Mayak complex. The IAEA has issued guidelines concerning operation of production reactors, which set a limited international standard in this field. RUSSIA’S CAPABILITIES IN RADIATION MONITORING For several decades, Russian organizations have been developing and deploying devices to detect and measure radiation. Such devices can be used to detect IRSs and other material that might be used in RDDs. Moreover, various organizations have developed capabilities to monitor contamination levels in people, the atmosphere, structures, soil, and elsewhere should an RDD attack ensue. The Aspect suite of portal monitor detectors that are being installed in Russia as part of DOE’s Second Line of Defense program is a good example of high-resolution detection equipment that Russian specialists are continuing to improve.22 DOE experts informed the committee that at a demonstration and evaluation of Russian detection instrumentation and related equipment held at Los Alamos National Laboratory in October 2005, U.S. experts were extremely impressed with the state of the art of the Russian equipment. The committee was pleased to learn of Russian advances in this field. Not only do such advances highlight the technical expertise available in Russia and demonstrate the development of new solutions when combating a potential nuclear or radiological threat, they also provide a valuable demonstration of the importance of collaboration in addressing the problem of illicit trafficking worldwide. RUSSIAN ORGANIZATIONS OF SPECIAL INTEREST Although more than 30 federal ministries, agencies, and committees have subordinate enterprises, institutions, and other organizations involved in IRS activities, several organizations are of special interest for this report. Mayak Production Association Mayak began producing IRSs based on Cs-137 in 1957 and in 1962 built its first radionuclide production plant. It is the largest producer of radioisotopes in Russia using as raw materials radionuclides from spent nuclear fuel and isotopes obtained from target substances irradiated in 22 Aspect products are described on the Aspect Scientific Production Web site at: http://www.aspect.dubna.ru/english/page.php?page=18. Accessed on February 15, 2006.
OCR for page 63
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism BOX 2-4 Mayak Production Association Products Alpha sources for use in fire and smoke detectors, static eliminators, gas chromatographs, and gas analyzers Beta sources for use in anti-icing systems on helicopters and other aircraft, thickness and density gauges, and radiation facilities Gamma and X-ray sources for use in industrial and medical irradiation, flow detectors, measurement devices, and aerospace systems Neutron sources for use in moisture gauges, oil well logging, and rock proximate analysis Sr-90 and Pu-238 heat sources for use in RTGs in the oceans, in space, and at remote land locations C-14, Cs-137, Sr-90, Am-241, Pu-238, Np-237, and Pm-147 for use in medical, biological, and agricultural research SOURCE: Information available online at http://www.jccem.fsu.edu/Partners/MAYAK.cfm. Accessed November 21, 2006. nuclear reactors at Mayak. It produces more than 700 types of IRSs based on more than 60 radionculides. Its products are used in nondestructive testing, sterilization, radiation therapy, and measuring devices. Mayak also produces packaging and shipping materials and containers. About 90 percent of its products are exported. Box 2-4 identifies the current products of Mayak. Highly active IRSs that have exceeded their lifetimes or are unwanted for other reasons are processed and disposed at Mayak, while low-level IRSs may be buried at Radon sites. IRSs that are exported may not be returned to Russia for disposal, but they may be returned for recycling as previously noted. Izotop This state enterprise was established in St. Petersburg in the 1960s to provide radioactivity-related services to the medical institutions of northwest Russia. It has since broadened its customer base to include services for scientific organizations, agricultural organizations, and industrial firms. The enterprise provides radionuclides, radiation monitoring and control equipment, and education and training services. Izotop plays a central role in the import and export of radionuclides. It assists in preparation of documentation, in temporary storage of IRSs in transit, in customs
OCR for page 64
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism formalities, and in arrangements for transportation. It also certifies the nature of the equipment and radioactive products. Izotop has a particularly important accounting role for the IRSs currently located in Russia. Since it was the primary distributor of IRSs in the Soviet era and since that time has continued to distribute IRSs within Russia as well as abroad, it should have extensive records of the recipients of IRSs. However, as pointed out previously, a reasonably complete inventory of Russian sources is still a long way off. Finally, Izotop is a provider of medical preparations. They include disinfectants, serums, and vaccines as well as IRSs needed for medical treatments.23 The Federal Research Institute for Physics and Automation (VNIITFA) The Federal Research Institute for Physics and Automation (VNIITFA) has responsibility for decommissioning large Sr-90 RTGs. The activity of the Sr-90 contained in RTGs at the beginning of their lifetimes has ranged from 46,000 to 470,000 curies for each RTG unit. An example of an RTG retrieval that cost U.S. $200,000 follows: VNIITFA experts visited 10 RTGs on the coasts of the Barents and White seas by boat and examined their conditions. They determined that no extra shielding was needed. Rosatom authorized transport of RTGs across Russia. RTGs were delivered by helicopter and boat to a special pad on the shore of Kola Bay. RTGs were taken by a special train to VNIITFA for holding in a special high-activity warehouse. IRSs were extracted in a hot chamber. A special rail car took the IRSs in special containers to Mayak. IRSs were taken to the plant where high-activity material is encapsulated and prepared for long-term storage.24 The committee visited VNIITFA and briefly reviewed recovery procedures. Clearly, the recovery of RTGs in Russia is complex and expensive, given the remoteness of the sites at which they are located and the high cost of logistical operations. However, the committee noted that the complex procedures in preparing RTGs for disposal differ signifi- 23 St. Petersburg Federal State Unitary Enterprise Izotop. No date. Brochure. Obtained from Izotop representative, July 2005. 24 Murmansk Regional Government, Office of the Finnmark County Government. 2003. RITEG Dismantling in the Kola Peninsula. (Additional publication data not available.)
OCR for page 65
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism cantly from the approach being tested in the United States whereby U.S.-manufactured RTGs are transported in robust containers. Investigations in the United States have shown that due to the combination of the robust packaging, the 29-year half-life, and the nature of the SrTiO3 fuel, the RTGs provide their own high-integrity waste-form packaging that qualifies for shallow land burial for low-level waste. At the end of 2005, three units had been disposed in this manner, with an additional 30 scheduled for 2006. There may be a good opportunity for U.S.-Russian collaboration in finding the best disposal pathways for RTGs after primary recoveries have been achieved. Radon Radon has 16 complexes in Russia, each located 40-60 kilometers from a major city. The facility in Sergiev Posad is controlled by the Moscow city government. The others are controlled by the Federal Construction Committee Gostroy.25 All material is transported in special trucks. Service zones range from 500 to 3,000 kilometers. Usually, there are wired-based communications within and among facilities. Sometimes shortwave communications are used. The Radon sites manage many types of radioactive wastes: IRSs from 0.1 to 100,000 curies are placed in bunkers of various designs capable of housing 5 to 10,000 units per bunker. Unwanted instruments and large pieces of waste material are placed in concrete canyons. Contaminated soil is placed in dumps and canyons. Contaminated solid wastes are placed in casks or containers. Contaminated liquid wastes are placed in cisterns. For security at the sites, Radon relies on passive perimeter systems, access systems, video observation systems, and movement control systems. Transportation security is particularly important to Radon facilities. Thus, they rely on special vehicles with communication systems among the vehicles in convoys and with disbursed dispatching points using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for accurate locations. The dispatchers are in turn connected to Rosatom’s coordination center. Radon has also 25 The other facilities are located near St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Grozny (presumably no longer operating), Irkutsk, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Rostov, Samara, Saratov, Ufa, and Volgograd. See Bradley, D. J., and D. R. Payson. 1997. P. 119 in Behind the Nuclear Curtain: Radioactive Waste Management in the Former Soviet Union. Columbus, Ohio: Battelle Press.
OCR for page 66
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism begun to explore measures to prevent returned IRSs from being used in RDDs. For example, the application of plasma technology to convert dangerous sources into forms that will ensure safe storage is being explored. Also, vitrification is being used to make the disposed IRS materials mechanically durable and chemically stable.26 Additional comments about the activities of Radon are included in Chapter 3. WEAKNESSES IN RUSSIAN SECURITY SYSTEMS In summary, the security of Russian IRSs has a number of weak links, often associated with lack of adequate financial resources. Russia was fortunate to progress through the most difficult transition years in the 1990s without a major radiological incident despite serious vulnerabilities. During the past few years, many significant security enhancements have been made—some through the DOE cooperative program. More work is needed, however, before Russia achieves an internationally acceptable level of security for its inventory of IRSs. In addition to shoring up the security during all phases of the service life of IRSs, a comprehensive life-cycle management approach is essential, with adequate human resources. At the same time, Russia is demonstrating that it can safely and securely manufacture and distribute IRSs worldwide on a competitive basis. In this revenue-generating area, the necessary infrastructure seems to be quite adequate. Russia also has a wealth of nuclear science and technology expertise, sufficient to develop, manufacture, and deploy state-of-the-art radioactive material detection equipment for protection of its own borders. This equipment is competitive in the world marketplace and can be offered to other nations for the protection of radioactive materials. As repeatedly stressed in this chapter, the excess, unwanted, and orphaned IRS inventory has not been adequately addressed. The Radon complex provides the basic infrastructure to accomplish secure storage for these IRSs, and Izotop can play a key role in identifying and recovering IRSs based on its historical data about original distribution. Such an effort can greatly reduce security problems. However, sufficient priority has apparently not been accorded to this effort, and the resources available seem inadequate for rapid progress. 26 Radon. Moscow State Unitary Enterprise—United Ecological and Technological and Scientific Research Center for Radwaste Decontamination and Environmental Protection. No date. Brochure provided to committee at Radon, March 2005.
OCR for page 67
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism INTERESTS OF THE UNITED STATES IN PROTECTING IRSs IN RUSSIA The committee recognizes that there are competing priorities for U.S. resources to support nuclear security cooperation with Russia. However, it concludes that cooperation with Russia to counter the threat of radiological terrorism is in the interest of the United States, not only because incidents involving radioactive material could kill and/or injure people, but for the following reasons as well: If IRSs are stolen or diverted in any country, they might enter the international black market with the possibility of falling into the hands of terrorist groups that could target U.S. assets in the United States or abroad. As indicated in Chapter 1 and in this chapter, a significant portion of the IRSs that have been intercepted at border crossing points and elsewhere have been of Russian origin. The likelihood of stolen Russian IRSs being smuggled into the United States seems relatively low since a terrorist group would probably try to obtain an IRS that is already located in the United States rather than risk detection at a point of entry into the country. However, the use of Russian-origin IRSs against U.S. assets in Russia itself (e.g., U.S. Embassy, facilities of U.S. companies), Central Asia (e.g., U.S. military bases), the Middle East (e.g., U.S. military or private facilities), or elsewhere could have a dramatic impact on U.S. national security interests. A successful RDD detonation in Russia, or indeed in any country, could provide a “proof of principle” for terrorists who have not used radiological weapons to date, thereby encouraging copy-cat attacks by terrorists in the United States or against U.S. interests overseas. A major radiological attack in any major capital or financial hub would likely adversely affect the global economy, including the U.S. economy. Detonation of an RDD in Russia, or any country, could have global repercussions in terms of the safety of nuclear technologies. Just as the Chernobyl accident had a dampening effect the on development of nuclear power in many countries, detonation of an RDD would heighten nuclear anxieties of both public- and private-sector leaders worldwide and jeopardize the continued beneficial use of nuclear technologies. An RDD attack in Russia or elsewhere could undermine the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency as an effective international organization, at a time when the United States is firmly committed to strengthening this organization to deal with nuclear security and nonproliferation issues worldwide. Since the IAEA has been in the forefront in setting standards, developing guidelines, and analyzing threats and consequences concerning radiological terrorism, a detonation
OCR for page 68
U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism would certainly raise skepticism about the effectiveness of the organization in dealing with critical security issues. A radiological incident in Russia could cause the Russian government to reassess its policy of aggressively exporting Russian IRSs to dozens of U.S. public- and private-sector organizations that depend on such sources for medical, agricultural, or industrial applications. Presidents Putin and Bush committed at Bratislava in 2005 and during previous summits to cooperation in preventing fissile and radioactive material from falling into the hands of terrorists. A serious radiological incident would undermine the significance of such political commitments that encompass many areas of great importance to the United States. The Russian government has significant experience in dealing with major nuclear accidents, such as those at Chernobyl, Mayak, and Tomsk. Significant lessons relevant to dealing with radiological incidents in the United States could be learned from its experience. The Russian technical community has developed impressive technologies and methodologies for detecting illicit trafficking of radioactive materials, and joint studies and field exercises could benefit both countries. An RDD incident in Russia could discourage the growing U.S. commercial interest in investments and operations in Russia as well as the interest of European countries. Reduction of such interest would be particularly significant in the oil and gas sectors. An RDD incident in Russia would erode Russia’s ability to effectively participate in global efforts to combat terrorism on many fronts. Thus, it is clear that the United States has a direct and substantial interest in the security of IRSs in Russia. While thefts of IRSs close to U.S. government and U.S. private-sector facilities would be of great concern (e.g., Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg), thefts at more distant locations where large amounts of dangerous radionuclides are located should also be of concern. In short, it is difficult to prioritize security upgrades solely on the basis of location or inventory of the facility. The entire nationwide security situation needs attention.
Representative terms from entire chapter: