Russia is not AREVA's nuclear trash can

Feature story - 25 January, 2010
The French nuclear industry seems to think it's fair to ship nuclear waste to Russia and then forget about it. They think that keeping the waste away from the French public will protect their glossy image. Not as long as Greenpeace is around.

Activists lock on to rails to stop nuclear waste.

Last night three teams of Greenpeace activists blocked a train transporting nuclear waste to Cherbourg, the heart of the French nuclear reprocessing industry. From Cherbourg it was due to be loaded onto the transport ship Kapitan Kuroptev, destination Russia. We've taken action to tell them that "Russia is not your dumping ground."

Six Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the railway, at two locations en route to the fuel reprocessing facility. A third team of Greenpeace activists placed a truck on the rails in the centre of Cherbourg, along with a banner saying "Russia is not a nuclear dumping ground". The train came to a halt just 50 meters short of our activists. For delaying the transport of the illegal nuclear waste they were taken into custody by the police.

The blocked train was carrying 500 tonnes of depleted uranium, just a fraction of what has already been dumped in Russia. The French nuclear companies AREVA and EDF claim there is nothing wrong with these transports, that the material is not waste but a resource that will be processed in Russia, and returned to France as fuel. Unfortunately that's just not the case.  

Since 2006, 33,000 tonnes of uranium have been exported to Russia (including 23,540 tonnes of depleted uranium), while only 3090 tonnes of uranium made the opposite trip. 30,000 tonnes of waste has been abandoned in Russia. This is in direct contradiction with both the French law and the European Union directive, which prohibits the export and import of hazardous wastes. If you read French there's a full report on this available here.  

If this behavior sounds familiar, it should. AREVA is an expert in the business of running a dirty business and leaving the waste far away. Whether it's dumping uranium in Siberia or mining uranium in Niger they've made sure the problems of the nuclear industry are kept well away from France.

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