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This article in Izvestiya January 4, 1996 dealt with the difficulties facing the nuclear regulatory agency GAN

Alexander Kanygin, is the head of the Yaroslavl office of Gosatomnadzor[GAN], the supervisory agency created by the Russian government in 1992 to provide oversight of facilities that work with nuclear or radioactive materials in Russia. Although GAN has instituted a system of monitoring and tracking radioactive materials used in the civil sector, the Ministry of Atomic Energy, which has operated for decades without any sort of outside supervision, has resisted GAN's attempts to introduce external controls on many aspects of the nuclear industry. Much of GAN's effective power was stripped from the agency when Yeltsin signed a decree on July 26, 1995 which exempted military facilities from GAN oversight, which many observers see as a payback to the military for their role in Chechnya.

In this article, Mr. Kanygin protests that as long as the military is not subject to GAN oversight, he can make no guarantees for the safety of the public.


"A Small-scale 'Chernobyl' Threatens the Russian Hinterlands;
or What the Ministry of Defense is Hiding from GAN"

Alexander Kanygin, head of Upper-Volga Inspectorate Gosatomnadzor RF

Recently I have been getting a lot of calls from traffic cops who say, "We have stopped a suspicious convoy of military trucks with signs on them that say "Danger, Radiation," but the soldiers won't show any documentation. We don't know what they are carrying or to where, and to all our questions they tell us to move on: they say "It's secret, searching is forbidden."

This is happening not on the deserted ice of the Far North or in the uninhabited Taiga, but in a heavily populated region of Russia, not far from the capital. And you don't have to be a specialist to understand what could be the result of a small-scale 'Chernobyl' if something in this secret column were to break. But, as if this wasn't paradoxical, it has already been almost six months since the time when the GAN inspectorate was stripped of the right to control the radioactive security of the military branches. This happened as a result of the order of the Russian President No. 350 of July 26, 1995, according to which control for the use of atomic materials and radioactive wastes from the divisions of the Ministry of Defense... was given to the very same Ministry of Defense. Personally, this makes me very uneasy, since military units are not under civil control at this time, and are bringing about an extreme radioactive danger for the population of Russia.

I am openly speaking about this -- far from a dilettante, I recently was a colonel, having served more that 27 years in the Armed Forces and having fulfilled my duty as head of the Radiation, Chemical, and Biological defenses of the Army. That is, I am a person who is familiar with the situation. I will say directly: storage and utilization of nuclear materials in military units is much worse than in the objects that are under the control of GAN. Special training of personnel is not considered important. There is no analysis is being carried out of the effect of nuclear materials on people and the environment. The guarding of the secret objects is not very good. I was very surprised by the recent announcement by the director of the Minatom Center for Information and Public Relations Kaurov, that they say that in the last 50 years not one nuclear warhead has been lost; in America they have been lost, but not here. But, first of all, who can say for sure if all the information has been hidden or is still hidden under the words "Top Secret"? And, second, now that all sorts of property and weapons are being sold, why would it not be profitable to sell a nuclear warhead, and if one were stolen, write it off.

By the way, the military units (including in the Yaroslavl region) have their own serious radioactive dangers (although not reaching the 'Chernobyl' level), both for the environment and for the civil population, of thousands of sources of ionizing radiation in the form of mobile and stationary chemical labs and radio-ometric apparatus. But the army's relation to this is even more negligent. If they lose something, then nobody goes to look for it; they simply write it off. During my time in the army, nobody understood proper storage of radioactive substances. Now, when there is a lot less order in the army, the situation, probably, has gotten worse. Slow death in the form of radioactive substances is gradually accumulating, so that later it can be "lost." In the military units of the neighboring Tver Region they are still fighting the radioactive pollution that happened several years ago from the burning of coal along with radioactive materials which ended up in the incinerator.

As we see, the Ministry of Defense (without a doubt, the initiator and inspiration for the presidential order for complete lack of societal control over the military in questions of radioactive safety) does have something to hide from the population under the all-powerful words "Top Secret." And not just for the average citizen of the Yaroslavl region, but in cities and towns, in the fields and forests in which without penalty, hidden by these words, the military is going about, and neither the organs of GAN or Gossanepidnadzor, nor even the Governor of Yaroslavl know what is going on today in the military units of the region, and what the radioactive situation is there.

It is not surprising; after the July presidential order, a hole opened up for the menacing forces in the regulatory system of administration and control for radioactive security in the region. And not only in the Yaroslavl region. After the societal controls were done away with, the military became even more dangerous. So I am certain that this danger is even higher than was the danger for our potential enemy, of whom we were scared for decades. I don't want be a provocateur, but I am certain that, if we don't once again set civil control over nuclear security in military units, that sooner or later this will end badly for Russia: and many innocent people will suffer. The hour of doom may yet occur.

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