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Russia: U.S. Group Says Siberian Rivers Radioactive

Moscow, 3 November 2000 (RFE/RL) - A U.S.- based nuclear watchdog says it has detected highly dangerous levels of radioactivity in two rivers near a 40-year-old nuclear complex in Siberia. The Government Accountability Project -- a non-governmental environment group -- said in a report yesterday that the discharge of radioactivity is ongoing and the problem is out of control. American and Russian environmentalists traveled to the Tomsk region, some 3,000 kilometers east of Moscow, in August and conducted tests in the Tom and Romashka rivers. Both rivers run near the Siberian Chemical Complex, which once developed top secret Soviet weapons.

Analysis found strontium in concentrations thousands of times higher than the norm. The report said the levels of radioactivity were too high to originate at a nuclear power plant or in normal reprocessing. Siberian Chemical Complex officials could not be reached for comment. A nuclear power minister spokesman called the report false.