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    Russian court amnesties nuclear waste plant chief

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    YEKATERINBURG, May 11 (RIA Novosti) - A court in Russia's Urals region closed Thursday a case against the director of a major local nuclear facility under the terms of an amnesty, a court spokesman said.

    Vitaly Sadovnikov, general director of the Mayak plant in West Siberian Chelyabinsk Region, had been charged with breaching regulations on the disposal of hazardous waste. Prosecutors said large amounts of radioactive waste had been dumped into the Techa River during Sadovnikov's tenure and with his knowledge.

    But today proceedings were closed. "The case is closed under an amnesty," the spokesman said, referring to a reprieve approved by parliament to mark the establishment of Russian first national legislature 100 years ago.

    Urals Federal District prosecutors launched a criminal case on the dumping charges last year. A Chelyabinsk court stripped Sadovnikov of the immunity from prosecution he had enjoyed as a regional lawmaker and suspended him from his post March 2.

    Prosecutors said Mayak pumped about 10 million cubic meters of radioactive materials into the Techa every year. Environmental group Ecodefense has put the figure as high as 15 million cu m.

    UN reports said that the Chelyabinsk Region, and in particular the town of Ozersk, where the Mayak plant is located, is one of world's most radioactive areas as a result of environmental pollution by the plant for almost half a century.

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