A NEW REPORT ON NUCLEAR PLANTS, NEW REACTORS AND
ANTINUKE MOVEMENT OF RUSSIA
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A REPORT FROM MOSCOW' PRESS-CONFERENCE
"CONSTRUCTION OF NEW REACTORS IN RUSSIA: OPINION OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS"
(AAP, April 24, Moscow)
Russian-american press and information center hosted on Thursday, April 24, a
press-conference of environmental NGOs commemorating 11th anniversary of Chernobyl
disaster. The participants of press-conference were: Alexey Yablokov, a former adviser of
russian president and member of security council in russian government, chairman of the
Center of Environmental Policy of Russia; Vladimir Sliviak, international nuclear
campaigner and consultant on nuclear power issues of Socio-Ecological Union; Melissa Akin,
a representative of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, USA; Dmitry Tolmatsky
of Center of Assistance to Environmental Initiatives, Saratov/Russia; Irina Reznikova of
"For a nuclear free Don", Volgodonsk/Russia. Alexey Yablokov started with
introduction on the consequences of 1996' Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters, many of
which are still unknown in Russia. He also pointed that Russia has many possibilities for
the development of alternative sources of energy and energy-efficiency technologies and
there is no any regions in Russia which can't survive without nuclear plants. "If
russian government would simply start to introduce the energy-efficiency technologies in
industrial enterprises - Russia would save much more than 10% of electrocity which are
produced by nuclear plants at present time", told Yablokov to the press, "the
main problem is that russian government spends many times more money for nuclear research
than for development of the renewables."
"In such situation Russia is still constructing nuclear power reactors," -
continued Vladimir Sliviak. According to information of Socio-Ecological Union, Minatom is
planning to complete in next three years at least 3 unfinished reactors in Rostov, Kalinin
and Kursk sites, last one of Chernobyl type - RBMK-1000. Project of completion of Rostov
reactor meets resistance of 80% of local population in the region, projects of Kalinin and
Kursk reactors completion have governmental expertize' negative conclusions. Earlier this
year russian prime-minister Chernomyrdin signed the statement allowing nuclear industry to
finish these reactors. Accordng to Sliviak, his organization will submit lawsuit against
this statement of the government during 1997. "Projects of Minatom are illegal under
russian laws on environmental protection and governmental expertize, moreover, regions,
where new reactors proposed, have no nature conditions for such projects and it can cause
new Chernobyls", he said.
Statement of IEER' Melissa Akin was concentrated on US expirience with nuclear power. A
review made of nuclear history shows that it was Cold War propaganda rather than economic
reasoning that drove the rush to build commercial nuclear power plants in the United
States. This has created a legacy of problems that has not yet been overcome. U.S. Atomic
Energy Commission Chairman Lewis Strauss' famous forecast in 1954 about a nuclear future
in which energy would be "too cheap to meter" ignored official studies of that
period, which all concluded that nuclear power would either be more expensive than coal or
at best the same price as coal, especially if coal prices rose. Indeed, the commercial
nuclear industry around the world still depends on significant government subsidies. The
emphasis on propaganda meant that engineering and safety concerns were not adequately
taken into account. Every major reactor design that was adopted had and continues to have
crucial safety vulnerabilities that are inherent in the design of these reactors. One
response when safety problems became apparent was an attempt to suppress discussion, and
to cover them up. In the United States, where more information was and is available than
any other country, this led to a lack of public confidence, and higher costs in the long
run due to retroactive safety requirements which were needed. Basic safety issues have not
been resolved in that the potential for catastrophic accidents remains to some extent,
even in those that are being advertised as "inherently safe."
The rest of press-conference was focused on Minatom' plans of development of its
nuclear industry. According to officially announced plans of Minatom new reactors'
projects are the first stage of russian MOX-program which means burning weapons-grade
plutonium in commercial VVER reactors. This program involves new reactors in Rostov,
Kalinin, Balakovo and Beloyarsk sites. But this technology is dangerous and will request
great expenses to provide the safe transport of plutonium, for construction of not only
new reactors, but also many new storages for nuclear wastes and MOX-fuel fabrication
sites. Yablokov and Sliviak both mentioned this elements of MOX-program. Dmitry Tolmatsky,
a environmentalist from Saratov, added that even in case if Russia will be able to provide
such great expenses nobody can guarantee plutonium non-proliferation in Russia. One of
VVER plants, proposed for MOX-program, is Balakovo, located near Saratov city, Volga river
region. There is one unfinished VVER-1000 reactor, completed for about 60%, which was
frozen after mass-protests in 1990. Tolmatsky was one of activists organizing this
protests and from his point of view the completion of unfinished reactor meets strong
local resistance and Balakovo nuclear plant, already operating 4 VVER-1000s, will not
start up 5th reactor. He called the plan to burn MOX-fuel in new Balakovo reactor
Representative of Rostov' environmentalist, Irina Reznikova, told about the resistance
of local population to the completion of Rostov nuclear power plant. In summer of 1996,
local environmentalists organized action camp near Rostov NPP' construction site. Another
protest camp will take place this summer at same place.
NUCLEAR MINISTER SPEAKS ABOUT NEW MOX PLANS
AAP, April 25, Moscow
Minister of atomic power Mikhailov told today that Russia and USA will sign new
contract on MOX-fuel soon if americans will agree on Minatom' conditions of the contract.
Minister didn't specify exactly conditions. Contract means USA buys MOX-fuel from Russia
during next 7 years (starting 1997), totally 132 tonn of MOX-fuel. Mikhailov also told
that Russia already sold to USA about 18 tonn of MOX-fuel produced experimentally on Mayak
facility, near Chelyabinsk, Siberia. Minister' speech took place at Russian State Duma
11TH CHERNOBYL COMMEMORATIONS IN EX-USSR
Hundreds of workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine stood in silence at
noon Saturday to remember those who died 11 years ago in the world's worst nuclear
accident. Many are still dying. "This was a great catastrophe, it was our
responsibility, and our staff met the challenge fully and this demands our respect,"
Chernobyl managing director Serhiy Parashyn told them.
Thousands gathered at ceremonies in the capital, Kiev, just 60 miles from the
still-operating Chernobyl plant, in Belarus and Russia and across the former Soviet Union.
More than 20,000 people marched through the Belarussian capital Minsk, using the
anniversary to protest agains the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Waving nationalist flags and chanting "Down with Luka" and
"Independence," they voiced their opposition to the broadly popular president's
policy of seeking to re-unite the country with Russia.
Belarus, downwind of Chernobyl, was especially blighted.
Minsk authorities had said they feared violence at the march, but it passed of
peacefully with police keeping a lower profile than during recent demonstrations which
have ended in arrests.
In Slavutych, the Ukrainian town built to house displaced workers from the plant, some
5,000 people began an all-night vigil at 1:24 a.m., the moment when staff at Chernobyl
lost control of the reactor.
Weeping women lit candles and placed flowers on a monument dedicated to their dead
colleagues. "Dima, you died so young, and I remember you well," said one
mourner, addressing a portrait placed on a Chernobyl monument in the town's center.
Eleven years on, a lack of cash is hampering the efforts of the Soviet successor states
to deal with Chernobyl's legacy.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, attending a ceremony at a Kiev radiation treatment
center, called on the international community to help with the costly aftermath of the
Russian President Boris Yeltsin promised Saturday that Moscow would continue to care
for those who suffered.
He paid tribute to the "liquidators," power workers and soldiers, some of
them conscripts, who were sent in to clean up the mess and seal off the flow of deadly
gases. Exposed to massive doses of radiation, many died or are dying.
"This disaster cost and continues to cost human lives," Yeltsin said in an
official written statement. "But the scale of the tragedy could have been
immeasurably greater if it were not for the bravery and selflessness of those who, without
care for their health or sparing their strength, worked to liquidate the consequences of
Yeltsin's predecessor, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, hushed up the disaster for
days, aggravating its impact.
Ukrainian estimates show about two million of its 52 million people live in
contaminated areas near Chernobyl, including 479 who have returned to the 19-mile zone
around the site.
Nuclear experts say the entire "exclusion zone" should remain uninhabited for
the next three centuries.
"NUCLEAR PLANTS, NEW REACTORS AND ANTINUCLEAR MOVEMENT OF
RUSSIA" A REPORT BY SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL UNION
Antinuclear Campaign of Socio-Ecological Union is distributing a new report on current
situation in russian nuclear sector. Report was prepared for FAIRE internationmal seminar
took place in Budapest/Hungary, april 5-10, and includes three chapters focusing on
situation in nuclear sites of Russia, completion of unfinished nuclear reactors, proposed
by Minatom last year and citizens' antinuclear movement across the country. For electronic
version of report send a request to: email@example.com (Subject: report).
OOA, Ryesgade 19, 2200 Kbh. N.
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Sidst opdateret 8. december 1997