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Lost Nuke Weapon * Russian Radioactive Water Catastrophe

15 August 2001

The scariest part of these following stories is that they hardly cause a commotion, and seem rather routine for most of us!

On the bright side -- the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space recently reported that, so far, 213 Organizations are endorsing an end to space weapons and 77 actions are planned on October 13, 2001 for the International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space.

1) Lost Nuke Weapon Near US Admitted
2) Russian Radioactive Water Catastrophe

1) Lost Nuke Weapon Near US Admitted

‘Pentagon officials, though admitting they do not know the bomb's exact location, insist it is safe. . . They have rejected demands for it to be recovered, saying it is too dangerous to be touched.'

This following article was published in "The Australian" 12 August 2001,5744,2566427%255E401,00.html

US admits losing nuke

12 aug 01

A NUCLEAR bomb, 100 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima, is lying 10km off the east coast of the United States.

Until now one of the most closely guarded secrets in US military history, its existence has been confirmed in newly declassified documents which reveal how it was dumped in the sea after a mid-air collision more than 40 years ago.

Pentagon officials, though admitting they do not know the bomb's exact location, insist it is safe.

They have rejected demands for it to be recovered, saying it is too dangerous to be touched.

The 3450kg hydrogen bomb, known as a Mark 15 weapon, has been lying off the coast of Georgia since February 5, 1958, when it was jettisoned from a B-47 Stratojet bomber after the plane was struck by a fighter jet during a training exercise at 36,000ft.

One of the bomber's wings was damaged and an engine dislodged.

The pilot, Maj Howard Richardson, was ordered to drop the 3.5m bomb before attempting to land.

He did so near Tybee Island, close to the mouth of the Savannah River.

Despite a 10-week search, the bomb was never found.

In a top-secret memo to the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), a Pentagon official wrote: "A B-47 aircraft with a (word censored) nuclear weapon aboard was damaged in a collision with an F-86 aircraft near Sylvania.

"The B-47 aircraft attempted three times unsuccessfully to land with the weapon.

"The weapon was then jettisoned visually over water off the mouth of the Savannah River. No detonation was observed."

Documents reveal the search was called off when another hydrogen bomb was accidentally dropped near Florence, South Carolina.

A TNT explosive trigger detonated on impact, but the actual nuclear device did not explode.

Troops looking for the bomb off the coast were then ordered to Florence to conduct a clean-up operation. They never returned to Tybee Island.

"The search for this weapon was discontinued on 4-16-1958 and the weapon is considered irretrievably lost," one of the declassified documents states.

The military suspected the bomb plunged into water 6m deep, coming to rest beneath about 5m of sand.

The bomb's existence was only made public when a salvage company, run by former CIA officer Bert Soleau, offered to find it.

Now Georgians are demanding action, but the military is standing firm, saying recovery could take five years and cost $23 million.

Officials claim the bomb is safe because, though it contained 180kg of TNT to trigger the atomic explosion, a vital link between the TNT and the nuclear device had been removed. Without the link -- in this case a capsule containing plutonium -- detonation was impossible.

This has been challenged by former servicemen and residents, who have discovered documents stating it was armed.

Derek Duke, a former US Air Force pilot from Savannah, cites a 1966 memo to the Congress Joint Committee on Atomic Energy by W.J. Howard, then assistant to the secretary of defence, stating that the bomb was a "complete weapon".

Howard H. Nixon, a former crew chief who loaded nuclear weapons on to planes at Georgia's Hunter Army Airfield from 1957 to 1959, said the bombs were always armed.

"Never in my air force career did I install a Mark 15 weapon without installing the plutonium capsule," he said.

The capsule debate has failed to convince Mr Duke. "It's a nuclear bomb," he said.

"It's like if I take the battery out of your car, then I try to convince you it's not a car."

Tybee Islanders agree. Mayor Walter Parker said: "It's in the best interest of everybody that it be found to determine what condition the weapon is in."

Resident Ken Wade was more blunt: "There is no doubt we've got a nuclear bomb right here in our neighbourhood."

© 2001 The Australian,5744,2566427%255E401,00.html


2) Russian Radioactive Water Catastrophe
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 7:53 PM
Subject: press-release

Moscow, August 15, 2001 (Wednesday)
For more information and copy of letter call:
2784642, 7766281 Vladimir Slivyak, ECODEFENSE!

Greens discloses the letter from Chelyabinsk governor to Russian prime minister on the threat of nuclear catastrophe

International environment group ECODEFENSE! disclosed today the letter to Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov written by the governor of Chelyabinsk region Petr Sumin, who said his region is on the threshold of new nuclear disaster. Chelyabinsk governor demanded immediate action to solve the problem of radioactive pollution in water.

This is consequence of the operation of "Mayak" nuclear reprocessing plant, which dumped its radioactive waste into rivers over last 40 years. Letter sent on July 10, 2001, it never appeared in mass-media.

"It is no doubt that such letter must be disclosed because it contains information on serious threat to millions of Russian citizens," said Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of ECODEFENSE!, environmental group working to stop dangerous nuclear power projects in Russia. "There is one more important part in this letter. Instead of working to solve the problem of nuclear waste, governor Sumin wants to build another disastrous giant - South-Ural nuclear plant. Bringing situation to final absurd, Mr. Sumin says new nuclear plant will solve existing environmental problems".

The Sumin' letter says: "It becomes more and more dangerous to use the Techa river' cascade, serving to "Mayak" facility of Minatom (Ministry of atomic power). Open water reservoirs contains about 400 million cubic meter of radioactively contaminated water; level of this waters is about to become dangerous". Another part of letter says: ".. building of the South-Ural nuclear power plant allows to solve this problem effectively".

Presently, amount of high-level radioactive waste, such as spent nuclear fuel, accumulated at Russian nuclear plants estimated at 14,000 ton. Amount of medium- and low-level radioactive waste just can not be calculated across the country because it's large and not all of locations are known. Instead of working to get rid of 400 million c/m of radioactive waste, Chelyabinsk authority proposes the plan that will increase the amount of nuclear waste in the region as a result of new nuclear plant operation.

Earlier in 2001 federal government decided to open the national border for foreign spent nuclear fuel to be stored or reprocessed in Russia. "Mayak" is the only reprocessing facility operating in Russia, its reprocessing line was started in 1970s. Capacity of the plant is 400 ton per year, but through 1990s plant was reprocessing no more than 150 ton of spent nuclear fuel annually. According to the plant source, it needs modernization that costs about $ 600 million. Large territory near "Mayak" facility is still contaminated as a result of 1957 accident which comparable to Chernobyl. On September 29, 1957, the tank containing radioactive waste exploded, releasing several millions of Ci of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Thousands of people were resettled, thousands of square kilometers were polluted. There is special federal program to rehabilitate this territory exist in Russian budget, but it's not clear what kind of programs implemented in its framework.

"Mayak" must be shut down as soon as possible; just nothing can be compared to this facility by the level of danger it presents. Amount of radioactive waste stored at "Mayak" is equal to 8 Chernobyl releases", said Vladimir Slivyak. "More it operates - more plutonium will be generated out of spent fuel reprocessing. Russia doesn't need this plutonium, it already have more than enough, so it's unlikely that this material will ever be properly watched and protected".

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