Russia's Lethal Hot Potatoes

An explosion awakens haunting memories of Chernobyl

IT WAS NOT, OFFICIALS HASTENED TO SAY, ANOTHER Chernobyl. But radiation leaks from an exploding uranium tank at the Tomsk-7 chemical plant in western Siberia did constitute the most serious nuclear accident since the 1986 Ukrainian reactor fire that spewed deadly radiation over Russia, Belarus and much of Western Europe, killing hundreds. Minor pollution and no casualties were reported at Tomsk-7, which lies 1,800 miles east of Moscow and produced, until recently, lethal plutonium for nuclear weapons. Environmental groups, which claim that the Tomsk incident was more serious than reported and blame it on slack safety standards, are calling for Russia...

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