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Town facing open-air radioactive poisoning

By The Siberian Times reporter
18 September 2015

Waste threatens 11,000 people in Pervomaisk after 'violation of safety rules’.

In August, Pervomaisk - 230 kilometres east of the city of Chita - raised it alert level amid fears over contamination from tin dioxides. Picture: Pervomaisk.ru

The storage of more than 16 tons of radioactive waste in TransBaikal region is a threat to residents, say media reports. The waste was produced by the Transbaikal Mining and Enrichment Combine, known as ZabGOK.

In August, Pervomaisk - 230 kilometres east of the city of Chita - raised it alert level amid fears over contamination from tin dioxides due to substandard storage of radioactive and other highly toxic substances.

'In the course of refining activities at ZabGOK, a mineral ore for producing tantalic-columbic concentrations formed tin dioxide cake, which is radioactive waste with elevated levels of radionuclides,' the local prosecutor's office was quoted as saying. 

ZabGOK

The waste was produced by the Transbaikal Mining and Enrichment Combine, known as ZabGOK. Picture: Chita.news

The waste is kept in poor quality storage containers - in unfenced sites - are 'woefully and illegally substandard', according a report by Bellona, an independent non-profit organisation that raised ecological concerns. 

The containers show radiation levels of exceeding 1,800 to 2,900 microroentgen an hour. Inside, the containers, levels areas high as  5,000 microroentgen per hour - thousands of times above permitted levels, it is claimed. Fears are that the protection will disintegrate over the next year, polluting the town. 

'There is the threat of an uncontrollable release of radioactive substances that would affect at least two regions and lead to their introduction into the environment,' said the prosecutor's office. 'Consequently, there is a threat of an emergency with unpredictable consequences for the population and the environment.'

The local branch of the Regional Ministry of Natural Resources has been charged with monitoring the storage, and disposing of it. 

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