Tuesday, 13 April 2010

French activists block train with radioactive waste for Russia


Greenpeace activists tore up the train track near the Tricastin Nuclear Power Center in southeast France on Monday to stop a shipment of nuclear waste to Russia, the organization said.  Depleted uranium hexafluoride was due to be transported via rail to the port of Le Havre and on to St. Petersburg.

Activists say that shipments of nuclear waste to Russia violate French law and an EU directive banning the import and export of dangerous waste. In February, activists held several protests against nuclear waste transportation to Russia and its storage in the country.

"Today we held a protest to prevent the shipment of French spent nuclear fuel to Russia and to make officials stop trading in nuclear waste," Greenpeace France anti-nuclear program coordinator, Yannick Rousselet said.  "The French side sells this allegedly valuable material to Rosatom for a symbolic price while the real uranium costs 150 times as much," Greenpeace Russia energy program chief, Vladimir Tchouprov said.

"Formally, Rosatom sends this raw material for recycling, but after such recycling 90% of the initial volume remains in Russia forever. It is a hidden trade in nuclear waste. We want this stopped," he said.  However, he said that Greenpeace had no plans to hold similar protests in Russia.  "In Russia, taking apart rails is fraught with serious consequences," Tchouprov said referring to routinely tough response by Russian authorities to any action they deem as a security threat.

"Yet another Greenpeace protest is a clear manipulation of public consciousness. They [Greenpeace activists] demanding the halt of shipments while it was widely known in 2006 that deliveries of uranium hexafluoride expire in 2010. Each time a shipment occurs, they chain themselves to the train tracks and put their heads on the tracks pretending to fight against further deliveries which will not take place after 2010," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said, adding that the protestors are "drawing attention to an issue that doesn't exist."

Earlier in March, Greenpeace activists called on French company Areva to cease nuclear waste exports to Russia. Protestors rallied outside Areva's Moscow office and displayed a banner reading "Russia is not a dump".

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