[main page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][guestbook][publications][hot issues]
By Ivan Rodin

Nuclear Energy Ministry Gets the Green Light
Duma adopts draft laws allowing for the import of spent nuclear fuel

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 7, 2001, p. 3

In yesterday's vote, the Duma approved the Nuclear Energy Ministry's plans to import spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing and temporary storage in return for some money, although no one can say exactly how much. Advocates of the project say that reprocessing the heat rods from nuclear reactors could earn Russia about $20 billion. The money will be made available to Russia over 20 years, but not all of this amount will be spent on environmental programmes. Some money will have to be spent on building the required infrastructure. Again, no one can say exactly how much money will be spent on building reprocessing and storage facilities.

In other words, Duma deputies essentially voted to allow the Nuclear Energy Ministry to start negotiations with interested states. Various opinion polls and surveys indicate that most Russian citizens don't want foreign spent nuclear fuel in Russia, considering it to be nuclear waste - an assumption which the atomic lobby vehemently rejects as absolutely false. The Nuclear Energy Ministry is assuring the
public that spent nuclear fuel is a valuable raw material and that its import will bring additional revenues to the treasury (to say nothing of the money Russia will earn from its reprocessing). However, no one knows whether this is the case. It will become clear ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years from now. It will take just as long for us to find out what the transformation of the Russian Federation into a place here the civilized world dumps its waste will do to Russian citizens.

All these and other usual phrases were said yesterday in the Duma. Opponents of the project (Yabloko, the Union of Right-Wing Forces,š some Communists, and part of the Russian Regions group) once again criticised the idea of transforming Russia into a nuclear waste dump. Advocates cited the tough requirements of state experts who examined the bills presented to the lower house of parliament for third reading and found them acceptable. Yabloko members organised a protest picket in front of the Duma before the plenary meeting, while Grigory Yavlinsky did his best to persuade deputies with figures. He said that 100 million Russian citizens opposed these "nuclear" bills, and that the initiatives really enjoyed the support of only a few hundred Duma deputies and state officials who stand to intercept the money they assert that the nation will receive.

It should be noted that the atomic lobby did have something to parry Yavlinsky's arguments. Yavlinsky and his supporters were accused of promoting the interests of Russia's rivals in this sector of the international market, asserting that they were covertly sponsoring the scare campaign.

The bills have now been forwarded to the upper house of parliament, where Speaker Yegor Stroyev already says that they will not pass the Federation Council that easily. Stroyev says that the Federation Council will demand some sort of tests which will show citizens what they should expect if the laws are adopted. However, it should be noted that the nuclear bills are not included in the bills that must be debatedš in the Federation Council. The upper house of parliament has only three weeks to start its debate, or the bills will be forwarded directly to the president for
signing. The final decision will be Vladimir Putin's.

See also:

Nuclear waste bill section of the web-site

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 7, 2001, p. 3

[main page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][guestbook][publications][hot issues]