Unfortunately, yes. Russia has a huge problem with improperly-disposed of nuclear waste. One of the major trouble areas is Andreeva Bay, a small inlet along the Barents Sea where nearly 32 tons of radioactive waste, most of it spent fuel rods from Soviet-era submarines and naval vessels, is leaking out of rusty tanks in crumbling concrete bunkers. The radioactivity is so bad there that the waters of Andreeva Bay are devoid of all life. That’s hardly the worst of it. According to Greenpeace, the Mayak Chemical Combine in the southern Ural Mountains is the most radioactively-contaminated place on Earth, having been the dumping ground for vast quantities of nuclear waste generated during the Soviet and post-Soviet eras. Despite these disasters, Russia continues to accept nuclear waste from other countries in Europe to dump at its already-contaminated sites. Why? Money. Russia needs cash flow, and it’s one of the easier ways to generate it. Unfortunately the legacy of nuclear contamination from these many sources is likely to long outlast the short-term benefits that cash for dumping might bring. In a country where huge amounts of infrastructure that ground to a halt very suddenly on December 25, 1991 (the day the Soviet Union collapsed) is still sitting frozen in place nearly 20 years later, it’s difficult to imagine Russia being able to handle these problems in the near future given the economic and political difficulties they currently face.
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