Radioactive waste is one more reason why nuclear power is not an answer to climate change.
A Russian freighter, the Kapitan Kuroptche, was preparing to
transportmore than 450 tons of radioactive uranium waste to Russia
when theactivists blocked cranes on the ship and the pier. The
wasteoriginated from the Pierlatte uranium enrichment plant in the
RhoneValley. It's part of a thirty-year-old practice of dumping
nuclearwastes produced in Europe in Russia, where federal law
prohibits theimport of foreign waste.
We're just putting it there for now: honest!
Franceclaims the waste is going to Russia for reprocessing --
the process bywhich plutonium is separated from spent fuel -- but
in fact only asmall portion is treated. In reality, it's simply
being put outof sight, out of mind, with no long-term solution for
what to do withit on the horizon. Greenpeace has filed a case in
the Moscowdistrict court against the Russian government nuclear
export company,Tecksnabexport. The nuclear industry would prefer
these shipmentshappened in secret, as they underscore a key reason
why nuclear fuel isnot a viable energy solution, and why nuclear
power is not a solutionto climate change.
Vulnerable to attack, dangerously shipped
Butin addition to being illegal, the shipments are also highly
dangerous.Shipments between west European ports are regularly
transitting throughthe North Sea, Skagarak, the Baltic and the Gulf
of Finland beforearriving at St Petersburg. The shipments are made
on general Russian-owned cargo vessels rather than purpose-built
ships,despite known hazards and risks. The transportation route
goes throughmajor cities such as St Petersburg (5 million
population) and Tomsk(0.5 million) and passes the coasts of
Belgium, the Netherlands,Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway and
Finland. An accidental release orterrorist attack could be
A new report from Greenpeace, "
Europe's Radioactive Secret", details the illegal nuclear waste
trade between Europe's nuclear industry and the Russian
The nuclear wastes concerned are of two types: contaminated
uraniumresulting from reprocessing at the Cogema/Areva facilities
at la Hague,Normandy; and depleted uranium (DU) from nuclear fuel
enrichment atfacilities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and
the UK. Thesefacilities support the day-to-day operation of
Europe's 135 nuclearreactors.
Update 7 Dec 2005
ElevenGreenpeace activists braving sub-zero temperatures on
board inflatableboats blocked theRussian cargo vessel 'Kapitan
Kuroptev' near Kronshtadt, some 30 kmwest of St. Petersburg,
Russia. The Kuroptev crew used water hoses onthe activists, the
resulting ice made continued protest impossible.Once the Kuroptev
has docked in St Petersburg the 450 tons ofradioactive uranium
waste is due tobe transported by rail for over 3,000 kilometers to
nuclear sites inSiberia.
The containers used to transport the uranium wastedo not meet
current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standardsand pose
a serious risk during the thousands of kilometres journey tothe
Russian dump sites, where they are illegally stored or disposed.A
large percentage of the waste is in the form of hexafluoride
crystalswhich can react violently to water leading to dispersal of
toxic gas,inhalation of which can be fatal.
The world urgently needs toshift its energy supply to clean,
safe, renewable energy. Delegates meeting in Montreal to discuss
the implementation of theKyoto Protocol need to remember that
nuclear power is not an answer.
You can help. Sign up as an Energy Revolutionary and
urge the host of the climate summit, Canadian Prime Minister Paul
Martin, to stand up to the polluters and strengthen the resolve
of the countries that want to take real action on global
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