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Europe's scandalous nuclear waste exports to Russia exposed

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#639
09/12/2005
Article

(December 9, 2005) The Russian freighter, Kapitan Kuroptev, arrived in St. Petersburg with its cargo of some 450 tonnes of radioactive uranium waste on December 7. The cargo vessel was met by Greenpeace activists in inflatables attempting to block its entrance into the port at St. Petersburg. The protestors were eventually forced to abandon their action after being repelled by the ship's crew wielding water hoses - the water froze rapidly in the subzero temperatures.

Greenpeace had already tried to stop the vessel leaving the French port of La Havre when activists there occupied loading cranes in efforts to stop the waste from the Pierrelatte uranium enrichment plant in the Rhone Valley being loaded. Both protests are to highlight the 30-year practice of illegally transporting and dumping nuclear wastes produced in Europe to Russia. Some of Europe's largest energy companies, like EDF, EoN and Vattenfall, are guilty of large scale dumping of radioactive waste while trying to portray the industry as clean and climate friendly.

A new report, "Europe's Radioactive Secret", by the environmental group details the illegal trade that sees contaminated uranium from reprocessing activities at La Hague and depleted uranium from nuclear fuel enrichment facilities in France and Urenco facilities in Gronau (Germany), Almelo (Netherlands) and Capenhurst (UK) being transported to illegal dumps in Russia. The containers used to transport the wastes do not even meet IAEA standards and pose a serious risk during transportation (over 3,000 kilometres by rail to Siberia) and when eventually dumped. A large percentage of the waste is in the form of hexafluoride crystals that can react violently with water leading to the dispersal of a toxic gas that can prove fatal when inhaled. Greenpeace has collected evidence of 100,000 tonnes of waste being shipped to Russia in the last ten years alone.

Greenpeace in Russia has filed a case against the government export company, Tecksnabexport with the Moscow district court because according to article 48 of the federal law of 2001 "On Environmental Protection", the import of nuclear wastes and foreign nuclear materials to the Russian Federation for the purpose of storage or disposal is prohibited.

The organization has also written to the IAEA's Director-General Dr. Elbaradei to request that he and the agency desist from promoting Russia as a multilateral waste dump.

Source: Greenpeace press releases, December 1 & 8, 2005

 

"Let us glow" by Indian Point (U.S.) activists
(To the tune of "Let it Snow")

The evacuation plan is frightful
But the profits are so delightful
And since we have no place to go
Let us glow let us glow let us glow!

When the sirens don't work we worry
But there's really no need to hurry
Since we have no place to go
Let us glow let us glow let us glow!

When it's finally sealed up tight
Our homes will still be lit and warm
And we'll peacefully sleep at night
Like the people who protested Shoreham

Though the plants are slowly dying
The owners aren't good-byeing
And as long as they love them so
Let us glow let us glow let us glow!

 

"Atomic Courtesy" by Ethel Jacobson

To smash the simple atom
All mankind was intent.
Now any day
The atom may
Return the compliment