You are here

Karelia: Decision on U-Mining postponed; activists continue pressure

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 13, 1998) On November 4, the Parliament of Karelia (in the northwest Russian region) postponed for the second time its decision about uranium mining. Previously, the parliament had discussed the proposed uranium project on October 20 and made no decision after environmental activists claimed there was no environmental impact assessment made for the project. The official reason both times to postpone a decision was "lack of information".

(502.4950) SEU/Ecodefense - In the days before the second hearing on November 4, dozens of letters from Russia, Ukraine, Western Europe and the US had been faxed to both the parliament and government of Karelia to protest the proposed uranium mining. "Most of uranium mining supporters in parliament looked really sad," says Valentina Evseeva of the Green faction in the Karelian parliament. "Many parliamentarians had been pressured by the nuclear lobby and we expected that parliament would give permission for uranium mining this time. But thanks to the pressure on the authorities, organized by environmental activists, the nuclear industry wasn't permitted to mine uranium in Karelia."
The fax protest forced the pro-nuclear faction of the Karelian authorities to slow down its efforts and to wait for a better moment. But there was no chance for a better moment when so many people across the world were protesting uranium mining in Karelia.

Last summer the Karelia government announced a competition among mining companies to develop uranium mining in Srednaya Padma (SP) deposit, close to Onego lake in Karelia (approximately 200 km from the Russian-Finnish border). Both local residents and environmental groups were strongly opposed to uranium mining in Srednaya Padma, demanding that the plans be cancelled immediately for "environmental, social, political and economic reasons". Ignoring these demands, competition among the mining companies for the right to mine vanadium and uranium in the region was started. Companies were asked to pay US$15,000-$30,000 for the "pleasure" to participate in this competition. But only "Nevskgeologiya", a St. Petersburg-based company, agreed to pay and was to be announced as the winner on September 15, 1998. But unexpectedly, this date was changed to January 20, 1999, after the Greens started to protest.

Russian federal legislation demands that the environmental impact assessment be completed for every industrial-scale project before it gets governmental approval. Activists found out that such an assessment was not completed for the project in Srednaya Padma, and demanded that the authorities follow their own laws. Local pressure from activists and international fax-pressure finally forced the Karelian authorities to postpone the final date for competition until 1999.

Source: Ecodefense press release, 4 November 1998
Contact: Vladimir Slivyak at WISE Kaliningrad