FRENCH FIRMS TO BUILD NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITY FOR CHORNOBYL. A consortium of three French firms led by the Framatome state company has signed a deal with Ukraine on building a nuclear waste storage facility at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will finance the $72 million contract. The facility, which will have a storage capacity of 3,000 tons, is scheduled to be completed by 2003. Vissarion Kim, director of Ukraine's Enerhoatom nuclear energy company, described the construction of the storage facility as a "step toward the timely closure of the [Chornobyl] station." JM

UKRAINIAN POLICE REMOVES PLANT MANAGER FROM OFFICE. Police on 7 July forced Vitaliy Meshyn, former director of the Mykolayiv Alumina Plant, out of his office and "isolated him in another room," the "Eastern Economic Daily" reported. The government, which holds a majority stake in the plant, on 24 June appointed a new director to replace Meshyn. Meshyn's dismissal has provoked protests among the plant's 7,000 workers. According to Meshyn, the government fired him in order to put the plant under the control of an international metallurgical company which already controls much of the aluminum production in the former Soviet Union. Last week, the Ukrainian parliament passed a statement declaring Meshyn's dismissal illegal and asking the government to revoke it. JM

CONFUSION OVER KAZAKH BAN ON BAIKONUR LAUNCHES CONTINUES. Kazakh officials continue to make contradictory statements about the extent of the temporary ban on launches of Russian rockets from the Baikonor cosmodrome. Interfax on 7 July quoted the Kazakh Foreign Ministry's Press Service as stating that the 6 July protest note to Moscow did not specify what types of rocket are banned, but Science Minister Vladimir Shkolnik told the agency that the ban extends to all launches. A third Kazakh government representative said, however, that the ban extends only to Proton rockets, which burn envirnmentally hazardous heptyl fuel, but not Zenit and Soyuz rockets fuelled by kerosene. A spokesman for the Russian Aviation and Space Agency told Interfax that Moscow will ask the Kazakh leadership to make an exception for the launches of a Ukrainian-Russian satellite scheduled for 8 July and a supply craft bound for the orbiting Mir space station scheduled for 14 July. LF