| President Putin invited representatives of irreconcilable
interests -- Academician Alexander Rumyantsev, minister for nuclear power;
Academician Boris Myasoyedov, deputy chief scientific secretary of the
Russian Academy of Sciences Presidium; Grigory
Yavlinsky, YABLOKO leader; Sergei
Mitrokhin, member of the Deputy Head of the YABLOKO party; and Alexei
Yablokov, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and President
of the Ecological
Policy Centre -- to a meeting in the Kremlin. They discussed very important
issues -- nuclear security and the State Duma's ratification of the multilateral
nuclear ecological program whereby Russian nuclear submarines are being
The President discussed with the representatives of the nuclear department
and the ecologists the problems of burying spent nuclear fuel, where opinions
were divided irreconcilably. The nuclear officials believe that spent
nuclear fuel contains a lot of materials of value to the power industry
and that, according to world practice, it would be an extravagance to
decline to reuse them. The storage and processing of spent nuclear fuel
is a high-tech sphere which Russia should not abandon at any costs. The
ecologists, however, emphasize the dangers of such programs to the environment.
In addition, they believe that Russia's emergence onto the spent nuclear
market will provide the United States, which controls to a large extent
the stocks of radioactive materials in the world, a further lever with
which to influence Russia.
The subject of the Mayak enterprise in Chelyabinsk Oblast was also considered.
This region suffered from a radiation accident in 1957, and many people
still live on contaminated territories. Minister Alexander Rumyantsev
confirmed his department's readiness to allocate funds to
resettle people from the contaminated territories. This primarily concerns
the villages of Muslyumovo and Tatarskaya Karabolka.
Vladimir Putin reported that radiation waste and contaminated soil were
removed from downtown Moscow -- from the Kurchatov Institute (where, incidentally,
Academician Alexander Rumyantsev worked before being appointed minister)
-- in the space of two years, and all these materials were also recycled.
"This work was done in its entirety," the President emphasized.
On the eve of the meeting in the Kremlin another meeting, which would
have been inconceivable in the recent past, was held -- the first session
of the public ecological council headed by the minister for nuclear power.
This council was set up in accordance with a Russian Government directive
to implement the results of the Civil Forum held in 2002. The council's
task is to involve not only nuclear department officials but also scientists
and representatives of all kinds of ecological organizations, frequently
radical ones, in the shaping of policy in the utilization of nuclear power,
environmental protection, and radiation safety.
The scheduled composition of the council elicits amazement. Will 30
people who express diametrically opposite interests be able to find common
ground? The meeting in the Kremlin was clearly intended to suggest to
them the idea of the need to end mutual exposes and reach a consensus
that is so essential to society. Incidentally, according to the council's
charter all its decisions are adopted precisely on a consensus basis.
The council, unprecedented in Russia, includes quite a few authoritative
scientists. Apart from Academician Rumyantsev, it includes Natalya Tarasova,
Gleb Khudyakov, and Alexei Yablokov,
corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Lev Buldakov,
academician of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences; Angelina Guskova
and Viktor Ivanov, corresponding members of the Russian Academy of Medical
Sciences; and Rudolf Aleksakhin, academician of the Russian Academy of
Agricultural Research. As well as leaders of authoritative ecological
organizations from many Russian regions, including Alexander Nikitin from
Belluna, Vladimir Kuznetsov from the Russian Green Cross, Lidya Popova
from the Social-Ecological Union, and Sergei Baranovsky from the Russian
The first council session discussed a program of measures to resolve
ecological problems at the very old Mayak enterprise in Chelyabinsk Oblast,
which was built back in 1946 and used to produce industrial plutonium.
Seven reactors used to operate at Mayak. Consequently huge
reservoirs were formed, polluted by various radioactive substances. Large-scale
hydraulic engineering programs have already been launched at Mayak. Some
135 million roubles has already been assimilated. The Karachai and Gniloye
reservoirs are to be completely closed for the disposal of waste water
and to be upgraded. A comprehensive program has been adopted with a
view to ending the disposal of all active substances into industrial reservoirs.
But are these programs ideal?
There was a lot of argument, but no bitterness. Not even Alexei Yablokov
denounced the nuclear officials but instead made constructive suggestions.
Yabloko for Nuclear
Yabloko for Environmental