Fight against RT-2 continues

Out of 98 255 signatures collected by green movement activists in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, against completion of the construction of the RT-2 reprocessing plant, 86 234 signatures were recognised as valid by the regional administration. To back the claim for a referendum only 50 000 signatures was needed. According to Greenpeace in Moscow, every third family in Krasnoyarsk put their signature under the petition for a referendum.

The Krasnoyarsk regional administration is to make a decition on the referendum by the middle of April this year. According to Ivan Blokov, Greenpeace officer in Moscow, the administration has three options: Trying to find violations of the regional Law on Referendum and cancel the whole thing; deciding that RT-2 is not to be constructed in the region; and finally to carry out the referendum.

Construction of the new reprocessing plant in Krasnoyarsk-26 was authorised in 1977, although actual construction works were not started until 1984-1985. The RT-2 plant will reprocess spent nuclear fuel from light water reactors such as the VVER-1000. In 1989 the construction works, then 30-40% complete, were halted, due both to a lack of funding and strong opposition against the facility on the local level. By the end of 1994 it was necessary to allocate 1 billion 400 million US dollars in order to complete the construction. On January 15 1995, the President of the Russian Federation signed Decree no.72 on resuming the construction of the plant. Although no funding was allocated, the reprocessing plant is expected to become rather profitable, with an estimated yearly income of 300 million dollars. 80 % of the spent fuel to be reprocessed there is expected to come from abroad.

By the end of 1995 the legality of the Presidential Decree no.72 was questioned by Russia’s Supreme Court, through a hearing initiated by Greenpeace. As a result, the decree was declared as contradicting the Russian Federal Environment legislation, when dealing with import of foreign spent nuclear fuel to Russian territory. This means that the RT-2 must limit its reprocessing to spent fuel originated in Russia, consequently bringing no profit.

The decision of the Supreme Court did not affect Minatom plans.

Meanwhile, state environmental experts concluded that the technological processes used at RT-2 would lead to radioactive contamination of the environment, recommending technological improvements to the project description to avoid these consequences. Minatom agreed upon this, suggesting that the project should be assigned to a Federal program in order to finish this work. Once the project slips away from the Krasnoyarsk regional administration, the proposed local referendum would not create any obstacles against the RT-2 project.

Nevertheless the project is still under jurisdiction of Krasnoyarsk and the referendum is to decide upon the future of the reprocessing plant.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no