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Release Date: 05/09/97
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Solutions to environmental problems which could affect U.S. national security will be assessed at an environmental security seminar being held today in Washington, D.C. The agenda includes the link between environmental risks or threats, both regional and global, the political and economic instabilities that can affect U.S. economic and security interests and the roles in environmental security of EPA and the Departments of State, Defense and Energy. These will be outlined by Undersecretary of State Timothy Wirth and other top officials of the agencies. The joint seminar is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center Environment and Security Project and will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the center in the Smithsonian Castle building (near 9th St. and Independence Ave.). Acting on President Clinton's belief that a strong international environmental program is crucial to U.S. security and the national economic and health interests, the four agencies have been cooperating on environmental security plans since July 1996. A memorandum of understanding signed at that time called for partnerships between these agencies and industry to integrate authorities, expertise and resources in cooperation with foreign partners, including Russia, the Baltic states, Asia-Pacific nations and Eastern European states of the former Soviet Union. One of the major cooperative efforts underway is the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program being conducted by Norway, Russia and the United States. It deals with the effect of radioactive waste on the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic region, the decommissioning of nuclear-powered submarines and the role of environmental risk assessments. The projects to be undertaken include: spent nuclear fuel interim storage containers, liquid radioactive waste treatment, solid radioactive volume waste reduction and waste storage technologies. Discussions are underway to add two non-radioactive waste management projects dealing with military base cleanups in the Arctic and the collection and treatment of shipboard wastes. One project calls for the design and construction of a transportable interim storage container for naval nuclear fuel, damaged or undamaged, and training for Russian naval personnel in its use and in monitoring and handling radioactive waste.

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