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New US, Canada-Funded Radioactive Waste Storage Facility Opens in Kazakhstan

department of energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has completed building a radioactive waste management center at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kazakhstan, with funding from Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program.

The facility, which replaced an old storage site, started its operations in 2022. About 3,500 disused radioactive sources were transferred from the old facility to the new site, with plans to also move other radioactive sources from other Kazakh organizations. It has a service lif of 50 years.

Kazakhstan revealed the plan to construct the storage facility in partnership with the United States in 2019. Yergazy Kenzhin, general director of the INP at the time, said the Department of Energy was expected to support the project to reduce terrorism threats globally, noting that the U.S. creates “technical and physical barriers to the access of ionizing radiation sources” to prevent the creation of dirty bombs. Radiological dispersal devices, commonly referred in the media as dirty bombs, combine conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material.

In its announcement completing the radwaste storage facility, the Energy Department echoed Kenzhin’s remarks, noting that its Office of Radiological Security aims to prevent radioactive materials from being used in acts of terrorism to enhance global security.

Director General of the INP Sayabek Sakhiev, in a statement marking the opening of the facility, added, “This storage facility for spent sources of ionizing radiation is a big step towards the peaceful use of the atom in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

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