Russian regulators condemn own ministry over nuclear dump plans

Feature story - 21 June, 2002
Russia's nuclear regulator has rejected its nuclear ministry's plans to turn the country into a nuclear dump for the world.

Former main street in Muslyumovo, near the Techa River, severely contaminated with radioactive waste from Mayak nuclear complex.

Minatom, Russia's cash-strapped nuclear ministry, wants to import 20,000 tones of spent nuclear fuel in a deal it believes will make US$ 21 billion.

Now the deal has been criticized by Yuriy Vishnevskiy, head of the nuclear regulator Gosatomnadzor. In an extremely frank letter to head of Minatom, Alexander Rumyantsev, Vishnevskiy condemns the decision on both safety and economic grounds.

In the letter, which has been obtained by Greenpeace, the regulator comments on a Minatom submission to President Putin that details Russia's readiness to "import, store and reprocess foreign spent fuel."

Gosatomnadzor´s Yuriy Vishnevskiy warns that "a wrong conclusion has been made on the existence in the Russian Federation of the necessary administrative and technical possibilities as well as sufficient regulatory basis for the acceptance of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from foreign reactors; the profit from the acceptance has been calculated incorrectly and it contains a number of incorrect claims."

Minatom's dangerous plans to turn Russia into the world's nuclear dump should now be abandoned, as "only a fool would ignore the regulators warning," said Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Tobias Muenchmeyer.

"While it is possible that the Russian government will ignore the advice of its nuclear regulator we urge the so-called client countries to heed the warning and send Minatom's emissaries packing," said Muenchmeyer.

The letter comes 11 days after Greenpeace launched a major photo exhibition in Moscow that reveals the human cost of nuclear waste dumping at Mayak, the world's largest nuclear complex. Should the Minatom proposal succeed, Mayak is a likely site for more nuclear waste dumping.

More information:

Read the letter, and learn about the Mayak exhibit and the severe nuclear contamination that already harms the people and landscape of Russia, at a special Greenpeace website called Half Life