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Finnish shipment condemned

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 17, 1993) The Bellona Foundation has issued a condemnation of the Finnish utility Imatra Voima (IVO) for shipping another 25 tonnes of spent fuel from the Loviisa nuclear plant to the Mayak center in the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. The fuel, which was shipped on 3 November, is to be reprocessed for extraction of plutonium, even though 26,000 kilograms of plutonium are already stored at Mayak.

(404.3995)WISE-Amsterdam - Over 200 tonnes of used fuel from Finland have gone to the Mayak complex, which has come to be known as "the most polluted location on earth" after many accidents over the past 40 years. Radiation has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims in the area.

After several research expeditions, Bellona wrote a comprehensive report on Mayak in 1992 and has since had meetings with representatives of the reprocessing facility. The plant has been at a standstill over the past few months, but the IVO shipment will cause the reopening of the plant and the resumption of radioactive releases into the Karachay Sea, which is already polluted with 120 million Curies of long-lived isotopes. Over 800,000 Curies of this total came from Mayak's 1991 production.

The situation for the people living on the banks of the river Techa has also become critical after years of releases from Mayak. Samples taken by Bellona near the Techa show that people should be evacuated immediately, but they lack resources to help them move from their homes. Bellona has done a new version of its 1992 report, which is now available from its office.

(Update: at the urging of the Nordic Council, the Finnish Minister of Trade and Energy has announced in parliament that future shipments to Mayak will cease. "Finland's decision is a dramatic blow to Russia's plans for continued plutonium separation," said Iida Simes of Greenpeace Finland.)

Source and contact: Bellona Foundation, P O Box 8874 Youngstorgot, N-0028 Oslo, Norway;
tel. +47-22 38 24 10; fax +47-22 38 38 62.