Mining and Chemical Combine (GKhK)

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Last Updated: May 13, 2014
Other Name: (ФГУП) Горно-химический комбинат, ГХК
Location: Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai
Subordinate To: Rosatom
Size: Approximately 7,000 employees
Facility Status: Operational

Established in 1953 in Krasnoyarsk-26 (currently Zheleznogorsk), the Mining and Chemical Combine (GKhK) played an important role in the Soviet nuclear weapons program. The facility was the third plutonium production facility and hosted a number of underground facilities, including three plutonium production reactors, a reprocessing plant, and material storage facilities. [1]

Since Rosatom consolidated its weapons-related activities, GKhK is no longer formally involved in the production of nuclear warheads. Its last plutonium production reactor was shut down in 2010. [2] Its radiochemical plant reprocessed the remnants of this reactor's fuel in 2012, thereby officially ending weapons-grade material production in Russia (this material is stored in a U.S.-monitored facility). [3] Studies suggest that, despite the halt of all weapons-related production activities, GKhK retains a facility for the storage of weapons-usable fissile materials. [4]

GKhK's current activities include the storage of spent fuel (both "wet" and "dry"), and work related to the startup of a commercial mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. A new "dry" storage facility for spent fuel from RBMK-1000 and VVER-1000 reactors, with an initial capacity of 8,000 tons, was commissioned in 2012. [5] The MOX fuel fabrication facility is expected to start production of MOX granules and pelletized MOX fuel assemblies for the BN-800 (and possibly fast reactors) in 2013. In addition, a pilot demonstration center for reprocessing technologies is under construction, and a reprocessing plant is also planned at the site. [6]

The facility cooperates with foreign partners. GKhK participated in the U.S. Department of Energy's material protection, control, and accounting efforts, and also worked with the government of Canada on physical protection. GKhK also cooperates with France's Areva and stores spent fuel from Bulgaria and Ukraine. [7]

Sources:
[1] Pavel Podvig, "Consolidating Fissile Materials in Russia's Nuclear Complex," IPFM research report, May 2009, pg. 12, www.ipfm.org.
[2] Pavel Podvig, "Russia No Longer Produces Weapon Materials," IPFM blog, 15 April 2010, fissilematerials.org.
[3] Pavel Podvig, "Russia to Complete Separation of Weapon Grade Plutonium," IPFM blog, 6 March 2012, fissilematerials.org.
[4] Pavel Podvig, "Consolidating Fissile Materials in Russia's Nuclear Complex," IPFM research report, May 2009, pg. 13, www.ipfm.org.
[5] Pavel Podvig, "Russia Commissions Dry Storage Facility in Zheleznogorsk," IPFM blog, 18 January 2012, fissilematerials.org.
[6] "Russia's Nuclear Fuel Cycle," World Nuclear Association, August 2012, www.world-nuclear.org.
[7] "Деятельность - Международное сотрудничество" [Activities - International Cooperation], Федеральное государственное унитарное предприятие (ФГУП) Горно-химический комбинат (ГХК) [Federal State Unitary Enterprise (FSUE) Mining and Chemical Combine (GKhK)], www.sibghk.ru.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.