Russian and U.S. officials held a ceremony yesterday in Sosnovoborsk to mark the start of construction of a coal-fired power plant intended to replace the electrical output of the city’s plutonium-producing nuclear reactor (see GSN, July 7).

The reactor is one of three still operating that Russia has pledged to shut down, but has balked over cost and other details. The new power plant in the Krasnoyarsk region, scheduled to be completed in four years, is supported by 10 billion rubles from the United States, said Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Igor Kritsky, ITAR-Tass, Aug. 15).

Plans call for replacing power from the other two reactors with energy generated by expanding an existing coal-burning power plant at Severskaya, according to agency officials.

One nonproliferation praised yesterday’s events as important progress in a long-running effort to end Russia’s production of nuclear weapon-usable materials.

“There have been a lot of problems and delays with the Krasnoyarsk project because of funding issues, so this is a great event that fits in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership,” said Carnegie Moscow Center head Rose Gottemoeller, referring to the U.S. plan to expand the use of nuclear power while limiting access to weapon-usable materials (see GSN, July 17).

“Now it will be important for the Russians to demonstrate that they will take responsibility for such projects, including financial responsibility,” she added (Yuri Humber, Moscow Times, Aug. 15).