A RUSSIAN OFFICIAL has warned that radioactive waste stored in reservoirs in the Ural mountains could flow into the country’s rivers and even out to the Arctic Ocean if a straining dam gives way.

A letter to the Russian prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, from Pyotr Sumin, governor of the Chelyabinsk region, warned of a potential catastrophe if the main dam bursts, as more than 400M m3 of radioactive waste is stored in reservoirs around the mountains. Sumin warned that water levels were becoming dangerously high, and appealed for action.

The Chelyabinsk region has been dubbed one of the most radioactively contaminated zones in the world. It is also at the centre of Russian plans to import the world’s nuclear waste for safekeeping.