6 June 2011. Arms Control Wonk identified the site in November 2010:
6 June 2011. Also:
kurchatov.htm Kurchatov Kazakhstan Nuclear Research Facilities June 4, 2011
New York Times report, 22 May 2011: "Old Soviet Nuclear Site in Asia Has
Unlikely Sentinel: The U.S."
Since this file was posted earlier today, a 2006 study has been found which
confirms the location of the storage facility, titled "Baikal-1." This
document details the process of preparing and moving the casks.
The schematic drawing on the right shows the Google image provided
below (rotated 180d). The Cask Storage Facility for
the BN-350 casks is at the lower right of the drawing.
Below is the plan of the Aktau Temporary Cask Storage Site until the casks
were moved to the Baikal-1 site.
NNSA Secures 775 Nuclear Weapons Worth of Weapons-Grade Nuclear Material
from BN-350 Fast Reactor in Kazakhstan
Nov 18, 2010
The project also involved the construction of three separate facilities
the Aktau Temporary Cask Storage Site, the Kurchatov Rail Transfer Site,
and the long term Cask Storage Facility in Eastern Kazakhstan.
The location of this secret weapons-grade nuclear material storage site in
Kazahkstan is proposed by Cryptome based on several reports which generally
describe its location and one by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (below)
which said it is about 70 km (40 miles) from an unidentified off-loading
railroad point which appears to be Kurchatov, a well-known nuclear research
The Sum of All Fears
ORNL plays a role in securing nuclear materials in Kazakhstan.
Sixty casks rise like towering white silos over a remote storage pad in the
Kazakhstan steppe, 40 miles from the closest town and, more significantly,
thousands of miles from terrorist hands. The casks, which hold more than
100 tons of nuclear material, are the result of an international nonproliferation
project that has lasted more than a decade to secure nuclear material left
in a former Soviet Republic.
Working alongside hundreds of Kazakh, Russian and American partners, ORNL
scientists and engineers have been key players in a mission to safely move
one of the world's largest stockpiles of spent nuclear material from a facility
in western Kazakhstan to a more secureand far more remotearea
2000 miles away. A November 18, 2010, completion ceremony marked the last
shipment of nuclear material as officials, diplomats and representatives
from the United States, Kazakhstan, the United Kingdom and the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gathered to celebrate the success of the
The target was a Soviet-era nuclear reactor known as BN-350, located in Aktau,
Kazakhstan. The reactor has been a top priority in international nonproliferation
efforts because of the quantity and quality of its spent materialenough
for approximately 775 nuclear weapons. Originally built in the early 1970s
to produce electricity, desalinize water and synthesize weapons-grade plutonium,
the reactor was shut down in 1999, 8 years after the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the establishment of Kazakhstan as an independent state. As Kazakhstan
adopted a non-nuclear foreign policy, the spent material remained at the
site, stored in reactor pools. Although the BN-350 material was sealed, secured
and carefully monitored in accordance with IAEA requirements, the reactor's
location generated concern among officials worried about terrorist efforts
to obtain similar materials needed to build a nuclear weapon. ...
The 3-week journey of 2000 miles originated in Aktau, where five casks per
shipment were loaded onto railcars for the trip's first leg. Specially designed
for the project, the railcars carried the 100-ton cask plus an armor-like
overpack weighing an additional 25 tons.
"Even though Russia uses a very similar cask and overpack for some of their
civilian power plant material, they had no experience using rail transport,
so these were the first railcars designed and manufactured for these specific
casks," Snipes says. Researchers from ORNL's National Transportation Research
Center supported the rail effort.
A convoy of five vehicles, flanked by guard and buffer vehicles to protect
the material from potential attack, wheeled out a total of 12 shipments beginning
in January 2010. The rail convoy brought the material to a transfer point
70 kilometers from its final destination. Because the railways did not extend
the entire distance, tractor trailers carried the 125-ton packages the last
leg of the trip to a remote complex. The storage pad, located in northeastern
Kazakhstan, is part of the Semipalatinsk Test Site where the Soviets conducted
hundreds of nuclear detonations before the site closed in 1991.