MOSCOW (AP) - A leading Russian environmentalist said Saturday
that legislation to allow the import of nuclear waste could face
an uphill battle if lawmakers listen to their constituents.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is to vote
June 7 on a third and final reading of the legislation, which
passed by a wide margin in itssecond reading last month.
Alexei Yablokov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
and a leading anti-nuclear campaigner, said recent opinion surveys,
including a poll by Greenpeace on Friday, showed that 90 percent
of voters areagainst the plan.
``I think that it will make the deputies think (twice) about
passing this law,'' Yablokov said.
If it passes the Duma, the bill will face a vote in the upper
parliament house, the Federation Council. Yablokov said the chamber's
chairman, Yegor Stroyev, was opposed the project and had branded
it as a plan ``designed either for madmen or the mafia.''
Russia's new energy minister, Alexander Rumyantsev, has pushed
for the legislation allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel
rods from other nations since his appointment in March, saying
it was essential for Russia to be able to export new nuclear fuel.
Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry has also lobbied for the plan.
The ministry says Russia would earn up to $20 billion by importing
22,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel over a 10-year period. Nuclear
power stations around the world have about 200,000 tons of waste
Officials have said spent fuel would be sent by armored train
to a facility near Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains for reprocessing.
The recycling process extracts useable nuclear material from the
spent rods while reducing their potential to be used in weapons,
the Nuclear Power Ministry has said.
A 1992 law forbids importing nuclear materials from countries
other than former East Bloc nations with existing contracts. Russia
now imports spent fuel rods from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia and
Hungary for reprocessing, a system established during Soviettimes.
waste bill section of the web-site