Serbia's nuclear waste shipped to Russia: report

23rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Serbia has shipped to Russia a huge consignment of nuclear waste from a reactor once considered one of the world's most dangerous, state-run RTS channel reported Wednesday.

The 2.5 tonnes of waste was composed mostly of spent nuclear fuel but also some enriched uranium that had been stored at the idle Vinca reactor some 16 kilometres (nine miles) east of Belgrade.

"The nuclear waste from Vinca arrived in Russia after a month in the largest such operation ever organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," said RTS, adding that the route and trip had been top state secret until the very end.

A convoy of 15 trucks carrying as many special containers holding the fuel left Vinca on November 19 under tight security provided by more than 3,000 policemen, according to the report.

Serbian President Boris Tadic, who saw off the convoy, said at the time that "the waste represented a security risk not only for Serbia but for the entire region," RTS said.

Escorted by helicopters and some 250 police vehicles, the convoy reached northern Serbian town of Subotica where the waste was loaded into a special train for transport of dangerous material and, through the Slovenian port of Koper, shipped to Russia's nuclear facility Mayak.

"By completing this transport, Serbia is removed from the map of countries that are possible nuclear terrorism targets," Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic told RTS.

The Vienna-based IAEA reportedly described the Vinca reactor as the most dangerous in the world in 2006 because its pollution and terrorism threat.

The fuel was provided to then Yugoslavia by the former Soviet Union during the 1980s.

Serbia provided 60 percent of the project's cost, worth 48 million euros (62 million dollars), while the international community donated the remainder, RTS said.

In 2002 enriched uranium potent enough to make at least two nuclear bombs was flown from Vinca to Russia in a US-aided programme cited as a good example of cooperation against "international terrorism".

© 2010 AFP

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