News FocusKAZAKHSTAN

Safe Haven for a Breeder's Plutonium Hoard

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Science  23 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5623, pp. 1224
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5623.1224

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Summary

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN-- In western Kazakhstan, a nuclear legacy of the Soviet era unrelated to weapons tests is causing some jitters: spent fuel from a breeder reactor that contains 3 metric tons of "ivory grade" plutonium. More than 90% of the plutonium is in the form of the isotope plutonium-239, well above the level required to make fission bombs.