Silicon Chernobyl: the construction of a new GK Titan’s production plant can lead to an environmental disaster

September 12, 2016
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The silicon plant which GK Titan is going to build in Novouralsk (Sverdlovsk region) can cause an environmental disaster, the experts of REL (Russian Eco Legion) say after examining the particulars of the future plant project.

According to the environmentalists, the threat is related to both the danger of the production itself and to the place chosen for the future plant. Up until 1994 Novouralsk was a closed town (Sverdlovsk-44). From the late 1940-s a gas diffusion plant (Industrial Complex 813) operated there producing highly enriched uranium. The environmentalists also remind that in 1949 the material used to create the first Soviet uranium nuclear bomb was produced in Sverdlovsk-44.

Nowadays Novouralsk is one of the leading centers of nuclear industry in Russia. Urals Electrochemical Integrated Plant, the largest uranium enrichment facility in the world, is the city-forming enterprise. The environmentalists believe that the plant runs smoothly, but the effect of its past operations can be of concern if some other production plants are created in the region.

The experts performed environmental soil testing and found high background radiation. They warn that, if any construction works start on this territory, the background radiation level of the area will also change.

Currently, due to the same reasons, no industrial facility can be built in Novouralsk, the experts say. According to the law, the lands subjected to radioactive and chemical contamination are transferred to the so-called reserve land category. All construction works are prohibited until relevant analyses are performed and the status of the lands changes.

No such analyses have been conducted, and the territory where GK Titan is planning to build the production plant is still in a special category, the experts stress.

The environmentalists call on the regional authorities and the public to prevent the construction of a silicon production plant on the land with high background radiation level. It can cause a real environmental disaster in Novouralsk and in the neighboring regions.

As it is known, the polycrystalline silicon production plant will be built by NPO Silarus, a subsidiary of GK Titan (owned by Mikhail Sutyaginsky). According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the project is about 7.5 billion rubles. The facility can be built in 2.5 years given that the federal authorities grant the status of priority development area to Novouralsk.

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