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Victory of "Stop Nuclear Shipping" campaign

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(September 20, 1996) On July 30, the Amber-2 ship with a cargo of uranium concentrate arrived in the waters of Kaliningrad region (Russia). Nineteen of the 23 containers on board contained uranium. The ship was going from Sankt-Petersburg port to San Francisco in the United States. The Amber-2 was planning to visit Kaliningrad seaport to take additional equipment for transportation to the U.S.

(458.4543) WISE Amsterdam - The ex-USSR Antinuclear Campaign received information about this dangerous transport from its own sources in Kaliningrad and immediately started a fax-attack on the local authorities. The demands of the campaign were:

  • to close the port for any nuclear transit; and
  • acceptance by the regional administration of a region without nuclear power, nuclear weapons and nuclear transit (a 'nuclear-free zone').

The ex-USSR antinuclear campaign was founded by the Ecodefense! group (Baltic Sea region) and Socio-Ecological Union International (the union of about 250 grassroots environmental groups in the ex-USSR). These two NGOs were campaigning in 1993 to stop nuke transit through Kaliningrad when the first nuclear shipping there took place. From 1993, Ecodefense! started to fight for the status of a nuclear-free zone.

Parallel to the fax-action, the campaign started to organize local resistance to the nuclear shipment. Also, together with some journalists, the campaign started a dialogue with local authorities to force a "nuclear-free zone" decision immediately.

The Russian Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom) and its enterprise "Isotop" (Sankt-Petersburgh) has a contract with American parties to transport the uranium. It is still unclear who these American partners are.

Kaliningrad is not included in a governmental list of the ports which can handle radioactive materials. And because there is no special equipment at the port for handling radioactive materials, workers as well as the entire population of the Kaliningrad region are in a dangerous situation when accidents occur.

For more than two weeks, the ship stayed in Kaliningrad's territorial waters and waited for the opportunity to enter the seaport or for additional directions from the authorities. During those two weeks, the ex-USSR antinuclear campaign was trying to talk to the local authorities.

A press release of the antinuclear campaign on July 30 about the presence of the Amber-2 caught the attention of the national media. Local media in Kaliningrad published and broadcast a lot. A government radio station in Kaliningrad disseminated a very environmentalist-friendly news bulletin.

The head of regional Kaliningrad administration, Yury Matochkin, the mayor of Kaliningrad, Vitaly Shipov, the chairman of governmental environmental protection committee of Kaliningrad, Vladimir Litvinenko, and the local mass media received 15 international faxes protesting the nuclear shipment. The campaign also organized a phone- call action in Kaliningrad that resulted in some thousands of calls by local citizens.

Finally, as a result of those two weeks of dialogue, phone-call actions, international fax pressure and media work was the decision of the local authorities to give no permit for the nuclear transit. For the ex-USSR antinuclear campaign, this was one more step towards the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Kaliningrad region. The nuclear industry lost millions of U.S. dollars because of the antinuclear campaign's protests.

Source and Contact: Vladimir Sliviak - Ecodefense!/ Ex-USSR Antinuclear Campaign,
Moskovsky pr. 120-34, 236006 Kaliningrad, Russia
Tel & Fax: +7-112-437286
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