Wednesday, June 26 2002
Room 1 C 47
— Bart Staes, Greens/European Free Alliance, Belgium, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee
— Heidi Hautala, Greens/European Free Alliance, Finland
— Astrid Thors, European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, Finland
— Elisabeth Schroedter, Greens/European Free Alliance, Germany
Members of the EU-Russia Delegation
— Sergey Mitrokhin, member of the Russian State Duma,
Member of Yabloko Party faction, Deputy Chairman of State Duma Committee on Local Government issues
— Anatoly Greshnevikov, Member of the Russian State Duma,
Member of the political group "Regions of Russia" (Union of independent
members), Deputy Chairman of State Duma Committee on Environment,
Member of State Duma Committee on Geopolitics
— Valentin Luntsevich, member of the Russian State Duma from Murmansk, Member of the political group "Regions of Russia, Deputy Chairman of State Duma Committee on Natural Resources and Member of the State Duma Committee on the Preparation of Labour Code for the Russian Federation
— Boris Vorobyev, Mayor of Zaozersk, Murmansk region
— Isidro Lopez-Arcos, European Commission, Principal administrator, Directorate General External Relations
— Fausto Gasperini, European Commission, Principal administrator, Nuclear safety, Europaid
— Elena Sokolova, Russian Program Director, The International Center, Washington DC
— Geneviève Lizin, Project Coordinator, Foratom
— Arnaud Sultan, Trainee, Foratom
— Vladimir Tchouprov, Greenpeace Russia
— Simon Carroll, Political Unit Adviser, Greenpeace International (Netherlands)
— Tobias Muenchmeyer, Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace International (Germany)
— Aleksandr Nikitin, Chairman of Bellona Russia – Environmental Rights Centre Bellona
— Frederic Hauge, President of the Bellona Foundation
— Siri Engesæth, International Coordinator and Managing Director, Bellona Foundation
— Igor Kudrik, Researcher, Bellona Foundation
— Nils Bøhmer, Program Manager Nuclear Energy, Bellona Foundation
— Soizick Martin, Director of Bellona Europa
— Paal Frisvold, Bellona Europa
Opening remarks, Frederic Hauge, President of Bellona
Introduction of the Bellonas work on nuclear issues in Russia since the early 90s
Bart Staes, MEP, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation
Committee, Greens/European Free Alliance, Belgium
The work of the EU delegation to Russia and the context of EU-Russia relationships
Sergey Mitrokhin, Member of the Russian State Duma, Member of the political group
The position of those against the importation plans
Valentin Luntsevich, Member of the Russian State Duma. Member of the political group
Regions of Russia
The position of those in favour of the importation plans
Heidi Hautala, MEP, Greens/European Free Alliance, Finland
The importation plans and the Northern Dimension framework
Anatoly Greshnevikov, Member of the Russian State Duma
Member of political group "Regions of Russia"
The environmental concerns from the Russian members of Duma point of view
Astrid Thors, MEP, European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party, Finland
The legal aspects of the importation plans
Discussion and signing of Declaration
Elisabeth Schroedter, MEP, Greens/European Free Alliance, Germany
The importation plans and the enlargement perspective
Boris Vorobyev, Mayor of Zaozersk, Murmansk region
The situation in the Andreeva Bay storage for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste and the potential for solutions
Derek Taylor, Head of Unit DG TREN/C4, Nuclear Energy, Waste Management and
Transport was excused at the last minute for official emergency reasons
Aleksandr Nikitin, Chairman of the ERC Bellona
The NGO point of view from inside and outside Russia
Discussion and conclusions
Environmental Rights Centre Bellona (St Petersburg, Russia) and Bellona Europa (Brussels, EU) — later referred to as Bellona — are proposing to establish a working group between parliament members of EU and Russia on the subject of spent nuclear fuel importation plans to Russia.
In summer 2001, Russias President Vladimir Putin signed a package of laws which favour spent nuclear fuel imports to the Russian Federation from other states. The approval came despite the fact that up to 90% of the population of Russia are opposing the project, according to various polls. In 2000, Russian NGOs collected around 2,500 million signatures in support of a national vote about the issue. But the Central Electoral Committee declined to hold the vote having referred to some procedural violations during collection of the signatures.
Russia is facing a lot of nuclear safety related challenges of her own. The country does not cope with the enormous problems of safe handling of its own spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.
The importation of additional volumes of spent nuclear fuel may only aggravate the environmental situation and waste the efforts of the EU and other countries to help Russia to deal with the issues.
The proposed Inter-parliamentary Working Group could serve the following purposes:
Bellona is organising a first meeting in Brussels, on June 26th 2002
At the first meeting the group can be officially established and further activities defined. Bellona can perform the role of the secretariat of the Group.
After the Group has been established on EU-Russia level, Bellona is proposing to hold the meeting in the USA and include American Congress members.
By the participants of the meeting
on Expediency of Importation of Spent Nuclear Fuel from Other Countries to the Russian Federation
Brussels, June 26th 2002
Having regard to the issue of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) shipment expediency to the Russian Federation from other countries for storage/reprocessing, the participants of the meeting have concluded:
1. To establish an Inter-parliamentary Working Group (IPWG) on SNF Shipment Expediency to Russia from other countries, including members of the European Parliament and members of the Russian State Duma;
2. To appoint Bart Staes from the EU Parliament side and Sergey Mitrokhin from the Russian State Duma side as co-chair for the IPWG;
3. To appoint Bellona Europa located in Brussels and the Environmental Rights Centre Bellona located in St Petersburg, Russia to assist in the work for the IPWG respectively in Europe and Russia.
The goals of the IPWG include:
Siri Engesaeth, Managing Director of the Bellona Foundation will be the mediator of the day.
— Siri Engesaeth : Presentation
Welcome to everyone. This is the fifth interparliamentary working group organised by Bellona : we had previously two in Russia and two in Washington DC.
We are already running late, so we will try to be quick in the introduction of todays meeting, first with Frederic Hauge, President of Bellona, then the two co-Chairmen of our working group, Bart Staes, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Cooperation Committee, Member of the European Parliament from the Greens/European Free Alliance and Sergey Mitrokhin, Member of the Russian State Duma, Member of Yabloko Party faction, Deputy Chairman of State Duma Committee on Local Government issues.
— Frederic Hauge : Introduction of the Bellonas work on nuclear issues in Russia since the early 1990s
Bellona has been working on these issues since 1989, so we now have a good overview of the challenges and their conditions. Last year, we published our last report (the Arctic Nuclear Challenge) describing many possible solutions for these challenges. We also know that the nuclear waste discussion can easily be overwhelming therefore Bellona wants to be concrete and solution-oriented.
From our point of view, the real heroes are the people safeguarding the nuclear waste, working in Atomflot and others. It is important to establish good conditions for the m to work and we have experienced that it is possible to realise concrete projects in collaboration with the Russian government and institutions. Indeed last year, the Lepse Village was opened after many years of work, in the harbour of Murmansk, when the staff was previously staying onboard the ship. The village is made with containers to protect the staff from daily radioactive contamination. The Lepse project started in 1994, when former EU Commissioner for the Environment Mr. Paleocrassas joined Bellona in Murmansk for a conference organised onboard a nuclear ice-breaker.
The Lepse is a civilian ship containing damaged nuclear elements. The question was then : how many people will have to be contaminated to safeguard the maintenance of the ship ? This was the challenge. And there was money for it, from the EU, France or also from the Norwegian government. This case illustrates the problem of many other installations in the region: the question is to get out and seal off the fuel elements. The strategy recommended by Bellona is to build a kind of storage and transport container. This recommendation was followed by the AMEC programme (military co-operation programme between the US, Russia and Norway) and the situation ended up with the construction of containers where the fuel elements can be put without having to be removed later on for final placement.
We want to find solutions without entering the general discussion about a final deposit for nuclear waste because we have seen that most of the time it blocks the whole discussion. We want to concentrate on the illustration that there are possible solutions if we address the problems in a proper way, as we did in the last Bellona report by exploring and proposing concrete solutions.
Another big challenge is the get openness from the Russian government on these situations. There is a lot of waste, it will cost a lot of money to deal with it but at the same time, beside protecting human beings health, the is the Arctic ocean outside, which is one of the most important fish places. And a lot of people are ready to pay to keep it clean
One of the huge projects between the US and Russia over the past years has been the project to import foreign spent nuclear fuel in order to fund Russian solutions on waste management. Bellona and most of the environmental movements are very sceptical, as we feel there is no need for more nuclear waste in Russia today. Among the most important questions, we wonder whether this spent nuclear fuel will be reprocessed in Mayak or Krasnoyark, or will it be put a dry storage facility? After having visited the three reprocessing plants in Russia, Bellonas position is clear: we are very sceptical. We have already a yearly outlet to Lake Karachay of one million Ci of long live isotopes from the Mayak reprocessing plant, which is in the region of river Ob, going directly to the Arctic ocean.
Our intention in connecting Russian State Duma and European Parliament Members (and possibly also Norwegian politicians) is to come up today with a consensus and common plans. We dont need anymore screaming, but getting projects funded and safeguarding this waste. This is not a catastrophe that already happened. It happens a little every day and we must prevent from it.
Today, we have a good overview of all these challenges, and I say challenges because we are tired with the word problems. Many of the bad situations we have today are the result of good things : the Cold War is over and military equipment and installations are being dismantled.
To finish with, I was in Moscow together with Alexander Nikitin yesterday where the Russian Supreme Court convicted Grigory Pasko to 4 years on ridiculous charges. There is definitely an urgent need for openness in Russia today. And this issue is priority point to be to discussed.
In the environmental movement, there are many different organisations. One of the main tasks for Bellona is to play the role of a serious watchdog to monitor the situations and recommend solutions. This is very crucial for us to do. Im saying that because in my opinion, it is the only way to get local populations to accept the idea of a storage facility. A lot of environmental movements work on a not in my backyard position. But if we are going to recommend solutions to face and solve the nuclear challenges, then we must get concretely involved and we will get public opinion to support the building of installations to safeguard Russian nuclear waste. Thank you.
— Bart Staes : The work of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Cooperation Committee and the context of EU-Russia relationships
First of all, I want to welcome to everyone on behalf of the Greens group. Our group has been very involved in the collaboration with Bellona to work on these issues and as a Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Cooperation Committee, I consider this discussion as a very important one.
I will be quick, as we are late and my colleague Heidi Hautala, who is going to talk about the Northern Dimension aspect of the question, has to leave soon, so I will not take too much time.
You all probably know the framework of the EU-Russia relations, the partnership agreement and the collaboration we have established. You have certainly read all these documents and you know nuclear safety issues are part of them. My Committee wants to have a role to check up all this and that is why we have decided to go after our delegation meetings in Moscow, to Murmansk on October 3 and 4 this year. Maybe some of the Members of the Delegation will also stay on October 5 and we hope we will have a chance to visit some places, not only with the Russian authorities, but also with the support of Bellona, which as a very experienced movement, can help organising this visit.
Finally, I want to say a word on Grigory Pasko : what has happened yesterday is awful. We should try to start a new political action and that is why our group has decided to put the Pasko Case to the Plenary agenda of next week as an emergency debate. It will take place on July 4 in Strasbourg with the whole European Parliament and we will do everything to convince the other groups.
— Sergey Mitrokhin: The position of those against the importation plans
Dear colleagues, as you might know, a package of laws was adopted last year in July and actually, within a few days it will be the first anniversary of this event. As far as the content is concerned, I would like to talk about two main elements.
This set of laws aims at large-scale projects of spent nuclear fuel handling in the Russian Federation. Minatom has decided to amend the Law on the Protection of the Environment, which prohibited the import of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste, in order to get financial resources for the handling, treatment and putting it in depository. The scale of this handling is quite big because the countries will be more interested in sending their nuclear waste if Russia would not at a certain stage return it to the country of origin. Therefore the waste would be put in a repository in the Russian Federation.
It is difficult to give a full picture of the situation, but I would like to look at the main elements. First of all, nowadays Russia is not prepared to deal with such a big nuclear project. The main aspects of the situation, security and safeguarding issues are critical. Technologies to prevent from environmental damages in all the phases of the nuclear cycle and the handling of the waste are not sufficient. We have today in our hands several documents unfortunately proving the very bad quality of the technologies related to nuclear waste handling. We also received a report presented to the State Duma in January, stating that the situation of nuclear waste handling is critical and that the quality of existing technologies remains to be improved.
One of the latest documents we had is a letter from the Nuclear Regulatory (GAN) to Minatom, revealing the situation at the Mayak reprocessing plant and its technology capacity: the conclusion was that it is not in compliance with the safeguard standards, as far as the environment and human safety is concerned. Liquid nuclear waste is being thrown to waters, there is not any licence from GAN for it, no installations for using dry repository and finally, it is impossible to envisage receiving foreign nuclear waste to this Chelyabinsk reprocessing plant. One tonne of nuclear waste handling brings up to 4.5 high active, 250 low active and 4000 tonnes middle active waste.
We should draw a special attention to the situation of the physical protection of the nuclear sites in Russia. Last year, we carried out an independent survey on this issue. We mapped the biggest nuclear sites, the sites situated in places that can not prevent from physical damage; their finance statements are not in the state we would like them to be. Our fears were confirmed when with a some of my colleagues, we managed to penetrate a factory in Zheleznogorsk and we reached the repository site for spent nuclear fuel. I can show you some pictures that will prove it. Anyone could penetrate inside. And this event took place 2-3 months after an optimistic statement by Minatom and a report presented to the Russian President, stating that the physical sites of repository were dealt at the highest possible level.
We should also pay a special attention to the fact that in Russia, a neglectful approach towards social and political consequences of nuclear accidents or catastrophes is usually accepted. Nothing is ever said about small accidents and how they were dealt with. One of the most troubled situation today is the region of Chelyabinsk, which was the result of the result of the 1957 accident at Mayak: vast areas are contaminated and people still leave there. In some places, half of the population is ill and this shows how the fate of the inhabited affected by the accident is neglected. I can mention the Chernobyl accident as well: many people were born with diseases directly caused by the catastrophe and they still have not get any social assistance.
Now, I would like to say a few works about Russia not being prepared to implement large-scale nuclear energy related projects. We have only one Minister supervising both military and civil projects, a fact that can explain its lack of transparency. This Ministry is being completely confidential and it also deals with trade issues, especially international commerce, which creates favourable conditions for corruption and, even more dangerous than corruption, the fact that the money received could be used to create new nuclear sites. We have once again here some confirmations and documents reporting on the corruption in this Ministry. Millions of US dollars were granted to Minatom to implement nuclear waste management projects and there are no document explaining how this money was spent. Furthermore, most of such projects have ended up in a financial failure.
In the utilisation of low and intermediate level nuclear waste, there is a certain tradition in Russia to dispose this type of waste in open reservoirs but Minatom does not consider necessary to include the expense for it in the balance sheet of the projects. No money is used for environmental issues. In fact, all the money allocated for such projects will be spent on the construction of infrastructures for spent nuclear fuel, the cost of half of the management will be higher and now the projects are not cost-effective for Russia: the cost of the fuel obtained by reprocessing is too high, whereas on the other hand, Russia nowadays has all the necessary facilities to produce fresh nuclear fuel, which is cheaper and more environment-friendly than reprocessed fuel.
One of the arguments for the importation plans is that they will give money to rehabilitate some regions and deal with the heritage of the Cold War. But I really think Minatom or others will use insignificant parts of the money for this. Today, there is not a single concrete project developed in this direction and I am convinced we will not get any environmental benefit from the importation plans.
Therefore, we should stop building new nuclear power plants, as Minatom plans, and use the money to build repository sites and deal properly with our current Russian spent nuclear fuel. We know we have enough nuclear energy in the country to meet our short and even long-term demands. That is why the argument that Russia does not have enough money for environment-related projects is not true; this money is hidden in the balance sheet of the nuclear energy policy carried out by Minatom.
The lack of safety problem in all these programmes is a result of the priority envisaged: getting profit and investments for new nuclear infrastructures is the real priority for Minatom, in its logic of expanding the interests of the nuclear industry, against the whole societys interest.
Another argument against the importation plans is that between 75 and 93% of the population are against, according to the polls. Now Minatom can not hid any longer that the major reason for these plans is the position of the US government: indeed, they have up to 95% of the world spent nuclear fuel amounts. There is currently a strong lobby inside the Congress to allow the import from Taiwan and Korea: this could lead to unpredictable consequences and could also raise the anti-American feeling among Russians and have dramatic consequences.
To finish with, this whole range of reasons lead us to conclude that we should not be in favour of the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. And we should also continue our working group to monitor this issue. I am now working in a group supervising the joint Russia-US nuclear programme, which is not only about spent nuclear fuel but all range of programmes) and I think it could be possible to create a similar group between Russia and the EU. Thank you very much.
— Heidi Hautala : The importation plans and the Northern Dimension framework
I would like to welcome our guests from the Russian State Duma and our friends from Bellona with whom we have been working in close collaboration. I have a particular pleasure to see Alexander Nikitin here again in the European Parliament.
I will start with one of the observations described in Bellonas working paper : the Russian plans (Minatoms plans) to start to import foreign spent nuclear fuel may be an incentive for other countries to get involved in the creation of an market for radioactive waste storage. This is something that most of the people, if they were democratically consulted, would be against. The main common position among citizens is that a country producing nuclear energy should take care of its own waste.
I personally believe that international agreements — and among others, the treatment of international foreign investments — are leading to a situation where it will be very difficult for a country to refuse such offers from other countries. I am thinking especially of the World Trade Organisation, which is likely to develop international rules for foreign investments. This kind of framework is going to make our work more difficult. Of course, the situation in Russia is different, as the country is not part of the WTO for the moment. But the Russian import plans are carried through against the will of the people.
I want to point out the courage of the environmental movements who collected 2.5 million signatures to stop the State Duma from changing the legislation. We know that all sorts of frauds and bad administration and government were involved in this situation where the citizens initiative was declared unlawful. We certainly could disagree with this.
I come myself from a country that knows a little bit more about the export of spent nuclear fuel to Russia than other countries. Finland has still indeed two soviet-type nuclear reactors. In 1993-1994, Finland changed its law (the Nuclear Energy Act) by banning the exports of nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel. This was not only due to a realisation that the Russia authorities were not able to guarantee sufficient safety levels and treatment of the spent nuclear fuel every year, but also because many Finish citizens were concerned that the country that had declared itself as the first to be able to safeguard its own nuclear waste — and that is Finland — would also become an attractive target for other countries to import nuclear waste.
At the same time, the Finish Nuclear Energy Act has also changed by banning and prohibiting the import of spent nuclear fuel. The situation is clear now; although I am not it sure it will always be in the future.
Now, the Northern Dimension: this is a notion that was adopted by the EU after Finland took the initiative in 1997 to coordination and bring together the initiatives relating to the Northern parts of the EU and its neighbouring areas. This is also called the Arctic or Baltic region.
It is a sort of balancing factor with the Mediterranean Cooperation, which is far more established, and has existed for a far longer time.
The Northern activities are coordinated in common actions and we can envisage that slowly, we will start to think of coordinating budget lines for the Northern Dimension.
Environment and especially nuclear safety in North-West Russia issues are mentioned as important priority targets in the programme of the Northern Dimension. I believe Bellonas collaboration throughout the past years with the European Commission would very well fit into the Northern Dimension programme. And I assume there will be even more support and attention to the work you have been doing. The European Parliament has also played an important role in the collaboration and raising the attention especially on the situation at the Kola Peninsula.
Today I am tabling a written question to the European Commission about the eventual situation where the EU and Member States would start to see an interest in the possibility to export spent nuclear fuel to Russia. Nothing is in the open yet, but there are already some indications of a strong interest because the question of a storage facility for nuclear waste within the EU remains a difficult one and not a single project have the support of the citizens and even politicians.
At the last EU-Russia summit on May 28, there were some discussions, highly confidential and secretive at the highest level with officials from both parts to which we didnt access. I am asking the European Commission whether in the context of this last summit there were indeed such discussions between Mr. Rumyantsev, Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy (Minatom) and the EU Commissioner for Energy and Transport Mrs de Palacio. We do have some indications from the Russian side (to be confirmed of course) that Spain could be among those countries, which could be interested in such projects. These are only questions, not answers and we will have to see what will happen.
I agree with another Bellonas point: the funding available from the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia will not mainly help to safeguard nuclear waste and improve the situation in the future. This money will probably disappear for unknown purposes. Therefore, we must keep on raising awareness especially if the EU should end up thinking that some export plans could be one of the ways to help Russia dealing with its nuclear burden. This is an illusion. And it is important to continue this kind of meeting as well.
One last practical remark before I finish, about the Arctic cooperation: since the beginning of the year, I have been the Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation for the relations with Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. This is a specific responsibility for the European Parliament to be involved in the whole Artic cooperation, also including Canada and the US. In mid-August in Tromsö (Norway) will take place the fifth Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic region. We will try and ask that the question of possible radioactive shipments across the Arctic and the Northern regions will be put in the agenda of the Conference. This will be the occasion for a discussion, with Russian participants as well.
— Valentin Luntsevich : The position of those in favour of the importation plans
Thank you very much for this opportunity to present this position. First of all, many thanks to Bellona, who provided us with this close collaboration that has worked on for about 5 years. I have represented the Murmansk region for two years now, I am a Member of the Russian State Duma and I was previously a governor of the Murmansk region. The question we are talking about today has always been so to say in my jurisdiction. I am extremely pleased that after some misunderstandings we managed to have a constructive dialogue. Now the relations between Murmansk authorities and Bellona are going in the right direction, the one to try and solve the problems.
There are different questions at stake with decommissioning, dismantling the Northern Fleet and others. But despite the fact we are on different sides of the table, we do talk about problems that are crucial for Russia. $
I would also like to have a referendum but there is a but: I have been to Belarus and I know what the Chernobyl catastrophe means. I had myself an operation due contamination problems and my daughter suffered from this as well. I know what contamination is. So we have to unite to bear the financial costs and changes.
In Russia, we consume four times more energy than other countries and there are indicators that show we have more possibilities for energy utilisation in our country. So we should go to a civilised world.
In the Murmansk region, problems from the Soviet time persist: you can find there most of the contaminated areas. There are any projects from Minatom and a programme on waste handling was adopted in 1998, after many governors from the North were asking for it. I was one of them, striving to change the attitude, so that there would be only one authority to deal with nuclear waste contamination in the Russian Federation. Before, there were many different authorities, different people dealing with it and in Russian we have a saying about this: if there are many cooks, it spoils the food.
Of course Minatom is not perfect. But the government gave this challenge to this Ministry; therefore Minatom should deal with it.
As far as the import of nuclear waste is concerned, this is a global issue. No country in the world has a perfect strategy using technologies that would avoid any further damage from the nuclear waste. Now, there is a sort of commercial struggle between organisations to solve the problem and make profit from it. I know Minatom cannot solve all this alone and that is why I came here to this meeting. We have had many contacts for many years with NGOs, especially in the US to try and find solutions for the problems related to nuclear submarines, transport of nuclear fuel to Mayak etc The Lepse project is an example and also a pilot project in that regard: now it is dealt by the Russian side with EU assistance. We have also worked together with Norway and with Bellona and this is only the first stage because we need more than 30 million dollars to help decommissioning one navy base.
Talking about the handling of liquid nuclear waste, yes, we have signed a convention on banning the deposit of it in the ocean and we are not doing it anymore. But it does not disappear on itself. If before we were using Kara Sea to sank these reactors and also using other bases for it, and now there is a question: is it better to keep these reactors floating or putting them on the seabed in Novaya Zemlya or other?
The UK deposes its liquid nuclear waste to the North Sea. I would like to suggest to the EU and first of all to the interested parties to develop technologies to handle solid and liquid nuclear waste. Today in one of the enterprises in Murmansk, called Atomflot and under whose competence the Lepse project is, there is a new project to construct a new facility to handle the liquid waste. It is not a secret that this project is co-financed by Russia and the US. We are very close to develop a facility that will be capable to handle 10 000 tones of liquid waste. It will help to decrease this critical aspect of the problem.
Now about the legacy of the pas years: Andreeva Bay, where atomic reactors and especially nuclear ice-breakers—like Lenin – are located is a very complicated situation. Now we are trying to localise all the leakages, so that the waste would not go to Andreeva Bay, and then to the Barents Sea. And I am very grateful to Norway, who initiated many projects together with our authorities and companies. Of course, I can give other examples of this collaboration, like the Kola nuclear power plant: we are now developing its safeguards and safety requirements. This situation is a sort of best-practise example to show the fact that any information about the problems at stake becomes know to Finish and Norwegian authorities.
Nobody can see in the world a viable alternative to nuclear energy utilisation and now in the Kola Peninsula region, 52% of all the energy are generated by the nuclear power plants. Other kinds of power stations cannot cover this. I dont think the idea to criticise this energy as a waste of money is a constructive approach. We should support every peace of work made by the authorities to solve the problems.
The argument saying that the import nuclear waste could help and prepare material for nuclear bombs is out of date: in our work with the US, our position shows that we think about nuclear weapons as the weapons of last century. Now we have new ways of thinking, new positions. We have to think about rogue States, how to localise them and decrease the danger from them. We must create a new approach to solving these problems. First of all, how to ensure that these weapons will not end up in the hands of terrorists. About all these subjects, there are different positions in the Russian State Duma, but I am sure Mr. Mitrokhin and me both care about this situation and all our colleagues as well.
To go back to the financial point of the question, when I was talking with my colleagues from the US Ministry of Defence, they said the remediation of a military base would cost 18 billion dollars in 5 years of work but we in the Murmansk region have many bases like this, so we need a lot of resources. Two years ago, I calculated that we need about 50 million dollars to solve these problems, whereas for the US it would be 18 billion dollars for only one base : so our territories with nuclear facilities are very well controlled by the government and the facilities in Chelyabinsk, Krasnoyarsk, the Far East and other regions now go through different projects. In 5-8 years we will forget about nuclear submarines of second generation, as there are now many plans in the Far East, the Arkangelsk and Murmansk regions, going in a very constructive way. We see ourselves capable of removing reactors from the submarines and put new generation reactors instead.
It does not mean the problem will be completely solved and that is why I will be happy to have a constructive dialogue with international organisations in the future, particularly with Bellona because of its concrete involvement in this problem. We will try and create certain projects and not only talk about it, especially when it comes to the problem of handling nuclear waste. Thank you.
— Anatoly Greshnevikov : The environmental concerns from the Russian Members of Duma point of view
Many thanks for giving me the opportunity to say a few words. And welcome all the Members of the group and all the persons interested in radioactive issues in the Russian Federation.
I would like to say a few words about the problems in the Russian environmental legislation. About ten years ago, I was one of the initiators in the adoption of the environment law in the Sates Duma and its article 15, prohibiting all imports of radioactive waste or foreign spent nuclear fuel to Russia.
A lot was done during these 10 years: an independent Federal Committee on the Environment was created, environmental standards were used, a number of laws on nuclear power were introduced and it gave us hope for the resolution of our environmental problems. We thought it was possible to sign a sort of agreement between the civil society and the nuclear industry.
I am maybe the only deputy elected only on an environmental programme and it is of great importance to me to get such an agreement. After a few readings (we have officially three in the State Duma) of the Law on the Treatment of Radioactive Waste, which was the most important law in the discussion, the governments opinion was negative and it unfortunately declined it, ending the debate with a sad conclusion. We had to go through a number of Ministries to discuss this question and the governmental body dealing with environmental issues was shut down. The Federal Forestry service disappeared and the environmental policy also, following the requirements of the International Monetary Fund.
About a year ago, the government obtained the possibility to introduce some changes into the environmental legislation. At that point, the unit led by Tamara Zlotnikova, a famous Russian environmentalist helped us to introduce some modifications to this article. Russia has enough with its own nuclear waste with around 15000 tones and it require a Sate policy to deal with this issue. So far it has not been addressed properly. Unfortunately, in our Environment Committee, a minority of people are against the importation plans.
There is a lack of legislation allowing us to control the activities of Minatom. We dont have any regional or local laws on the transportation or disposal of the nuclear waste and to start any commercial projects would be very dangerous in the current situation.
We environmentalists often get blamed for the situation. We once introduced a bicycle project and some people claimed that if we were at power, we would force everyone to ride a bicycle instead of cars!
But I can tell you that our proposal on waste disposal was supported by the population. We also had a project on the construction of a thermal plant as an alternative. The decision taken was to build a gas heating facility. The project was implemented in the Yaroslavl region and this was a response to those claiming there were no alternatives to the nuclear energy. And there are many others.
It is clear to me that the nuclear energy has a right to exist but on one condition: that the issue of nuclear waste should be solved and until now, there is no clear solution. We cannot leave the future generations to deal with our problems. I am in favour of looking for other sources of energy. Today we should implement a legislation dealing with this issue, take the population into account and Minatoms activity should be limited by the framework of the legislation. Without a specialised governmental body dealing with these issues, we can not import foreign spent nuclear fuel. We must have some independent controls before that, from the State Duma, from representatives of the civil society. We also need a transparent situation when it comes to the allocation of funds for nuclear waste disposal. Unfortunately, none of the amendments I proposed were accepted on this point.
We must keep on drawing the attention on the fact that this is not a Russian problem only. It implies many countries as well and we still have contracts with other countries from where we might take spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste. If countries like Korea or Spain refuse to accept such commercial projects, our work would be easier in Russia but until now we have had to deal with a common desire to make money out of it in this field. We cannot commercialise nuclear waste disposal in Russia. This practice belongs not even to yesterday, but to the day before yesterday. The only solution is to create a specialised body dealing with the issues to control environmental standards, making environmental expertises and finding solutions on the use of natural resources.
There are no independent experts nowadays. We had incidents in forestry for example and the nuclear waste sector can expect the same fate if we keep on working that way.
— Astrid Thors : The legal aspects of the importation plans
In this context I would like to raise certain legal issues :
The convention on International Environmental Impact Assessment, the Espoo convention. This is in many contexts a very relevant and basic legal instrument in international relations – with information on how to proceed with EIA with trans-boundary effects. Russia has signed it, but it is neither followed (which it should be according to international law) nor is it transposed into national law. If we recognize Russia as a market economy and a possible future member of WTO, such basic instruments should be working.
One of the biggest obstacles for the work on nuclear safety in Russia is the absence of the agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program, called the MNPER. It has been on the agenda through 2001 and 2002. Unfortunately the Russian Federation has not agreed yet to finalize this agreement, aimed at the cleaning up radioactive waste in North West Russia. An agreement would be of outmost importance and through that the EU is also prepared to assist Russia concerning safety issues of older nuclear reactors. The Liberal Group in the European Parliament, which I represent, urged in the resolution about the EU-Russia Summit which took place in May this year, the Council and the Commission to finalize this agreement as soon as possible.
It is a big mystery to me why the agreement is not ready and why new obstacles are always found. If the agreement is not signed, no resources will be made available from ten Northern Dimension Environment Partnership (NDEP).
Spent fuel or waste?
The decision by the Russian Duma last year to change the law on the protection of the natural environment is concerning. A small change of the wording regarding the importation of radioactive waste, has led to the current situation, where it is allowed to import spent nuclear fuel for technical storage and reprocessing.
Every detail connected to such imports would be subjected to specific agreements, about which the Russian Federation should negotiate with the interested countries. These agreements would have to cover the timing of reprocessing and the return of the products of reprocessing But the law in its current form could mean that the technical interim storage would be possible to extend endlessly, because there is no maximum period set for that. Unfortunately it seems to many observers that the Russian Federation is not yet in a position to assure the safety of any imported spent fuel. A couple of years ago, the position of the EU Commission was that the Russian establishments for storage and reprocessing and the authorities involved have neither the administrative nor technical capacity required. Not all member states agreed to that position.
Concerns is also raised that the revenues possible for the Russian Federation to acquire by the import, is not going to end up in benefit for areas in need of rehabilitation, partly because the law on this point is very vaguely formulated and does not state clearly how the revenues should be used.
There is also the Joint convention on the safety of spent fuel management and the safety of radioactive waste management that contains similar conditions covering both spent fuel and waste. The Member States should therefore according to this, comply with these obligations.
As regards radioactive waste, there is a Community legislation that covers the shipment from the Community to a third country. According to the Euratom Directive, the competent authorities of a Member State shall not authorize shipments to a third country that does not have the technical, legal or administrative resources to manage the radioactive waste safely. But do the Member States agree on what is possible?
Legal issues and question marks relate to the positions of former communist countries who formerly had reprocessing agreements Russia, but do they exist anymore? What will happen to the waste in these countries?
The legal basis for the EU-relations with Russia is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the EU Common Strategy on Russia. It is worth mentioning here is that the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement has called for negotiations of sectoral agreements on trade in nuclear materials, but they havent been launched yet. Also of importance is the technical assistance, given under the TACIS-program to the Russian Federation.
— Valentin Lunstevich :
A little observation. I have heard the position of my colleagues. In many countries there are resources to solve the problems related to nuclear issues. This is not only a task for Russia alone. Sweden, Norway and other countries are also involved. If you say Russia should solve the problems by itself then I think we will repeat the Chernobyl story because the international community was ready to help with the negative effects of the catastrophe but nobody deals with the situation there nowadays and people are suffering in Belarus and Ukraine.
Thinking this is an easy task is an illusion? If it was easy, we would do it ourselves but this is a complicated problem, which does not know any borders at all. Many issues are critical in Russia and the environmental situation is one of them. I would like to invite you to my region in Murmansk. You are very welcome to come and visit it. We must work all together and deal with practical issues, also together with the Ministry and other governmental bodies. I dont want to defend Minatom here. But it is just an agency as many others, like you have the same situation in the US for example.
I really agree with one of the point of views that we should take the best practise from different experiences and use it to improve the situation.
— Frederic Hauge :
One of the reasons why we wanted to establish this IPWG is to get a common understanding of the problem. I would like to make a little comment on what Mr. Luntsevich said and on the experience we have at Bellona. After the Cold War, there was an international understanding on the challenge to clean up the nuclear situation in Russia and on the fact that it shouldnt be Russia alone. Astrid Thors mentioned the liability question : this is the main barrier against financing the clean up and security operations.
My wish for this meeting is to exchange information on what are the demands and the work on both sides, in order to raised the political will to solve the problems.
We had the same situation when we with the Lepse: western countries and nuclear companies wanted to come in, get the money from the EU, solve the problems and go back. We managed to get a political understanding that the Lepse project and similar projects should develop Russian technologies as much as possible to deal with all these problems, so that we can create the vitrification process in Mayak, which should be of great interest for Sellafield. But if the liability question is not solved, then everything is doomed. Therefore I think this dialogue is very important.
There is definitely today a situation where the Russian side (Minatom) wants to get some money to send the waste to Mayak. It has been politically difficult to promote this idea in the EU and the US. If we manage to establish this IPWG, it is important to get a dialogue on what is acceptable for both sides and if we can work on this, it will be a lot easier to go through the administration procedures everywhere and make things happen.
We have our ideas at Bellona but it is important that Parliamentarians agree on solutions and for example have all this in the agenda of the group next year. It will be a very big progress. This co-operation should use the capacities of all the very smart nuclear scientists In Russia to develop nuclear waste management technologies because it will be cheaper than doing it in the West.
— Sergey Mitrokhin :
If we are talking about our concrete work, lets first agree on the main priorities and principles for the IPWG. There are many different ways to find solutions. For example, the EU position might be based on its own interest. I think such a position would not be very fruitful because it might end with the import plans as a solution to solve the problems of the EU.
First of all, lets approach the nuclear safety issues thinking that Russia is a special place, although the US situation could be similar, but Russia is the country containing the Cold War heritage. Nuclear safety is not only our national concern, as it crosses borders. We must therefore observe and secure this heritage. But the suggestion of Mr. Greshnevikov is very radical. Of course, we cant forget about profit at all, but we should find a middle way between commercialisation and nuclear safety projects. And develop many different directions. For example, the practice used in Poland when foreign external debt was diminished in response to certain environmental programmes. For Russia, programmes can be fulfilled under a strong monitoring by the EU : talks with the Paris club or with the London club, in order to diminish both the Soviet and part of the Russian external debt. If the programmes are fulfilled, then the import plans would be excluded because they would ruin all the efforts achieved.
We shouldnt forget about the effects of the commercial projects with minimal environmental damages. Some are already existing, such as the capacity building for a special facility using uranium which then would be delivered to Russian and international markets. When the opponents say that Russia has no capacities and financial means to do certain projects, I would like to point out that Minatom has refused to do certain projects.
We can also show the interest of some companies in Russia: if we find a balanced approach, then for instance we can produce facilities for which everyone has an interest. We can also talk about creating special funds with the profits from certain companies to be spent on environmental friendly programmes, and approved by the convention.
We should be clear about the activities we have, define them properly. Mrs Thors has very clearly stated the difference between spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste: we should use these words properly, especially for the public opinion to understand that nobody is going to import nuclear waste to Russia. It should be clear that if Russia wants to import spent nuclear fuel to handle it, then it should pay compensations if it has not fulfilled its plans.
— Elena Sokolova (the International Centre) :
I just wanted to make a little remark: in this IPWG work, there are a lot of technical points, but we should bare in mind that one of the main factors involved is the question of a democratic society. Since 1991, The EU and the US have spent millions of dollars to explain and learn the Russians what it is like to live in a civil society. And now, when these importation plans face protest from NGOs and public opinion, the US do not want to take this fact into consideration.
So I would like to raise this question a bit more. We all know the reasons why the referendum did not take place finally. But the question of the importation plans should be up to the Russian people because they will leave with the consequences.
I think there can be a European incentive to support that this question should be asked to the Russia population. Mr. Luntsevich said these are only claims that up to 90% of the Russians are against. All right, then, we are ready to accept the Russian opinion but then lets have a referendum to know once and for all what they want. The democracy aspect of the question is very important.
— Tobias Muenchmeyer (Greenpeace) :
First of all, I am very grateful to Bellona and the MEPs for inviting me to this fascinating meeting, which happens at the right time I think.
I have a few remarks though, especially on the title of the meeting itself, where the question of the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia is associated to the words co-operation and solutions. In this context, it makes me a bit nervous because, when talking about co-operation on the nuclear clean up in Russia, of course Greenpeace supports this extremely important task for the environment, but we should not forget that cleaning up and importing spent nuclear fuel have nothing to do with each other. This is Minatom and the well-known to everyone here Non-Proliferation Trust in Washington who are trying to make people believe that you can actually combine the two things: importing spent nuclear fuel and clean up the contaminated sites. From an environmental point of view, it has to be very clear that these are two different things.
When talking about importing spent nuclear fuel, there should not be any co-operation and it should be clear that there is not any real solution for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. This is one of the big problems of the nuclear energy. And the only solution is to stop producing nuclear waste at all. Therefore, I would like to see this IPWG as a forum for discussion which should meet regularly but I am not sure about its real character, although Im very curious to hear more during the day and see in which direction Bellona, the MEPs and Duma Members want to go.
Second point, I said this is a good time for such a meeting, also because several things are coming on the EU agenda. Mrs. Thors clearly summarised the legal situation from the EU side : it is clear that now the EU countries apart from Finland have the possibility to export spent nuclear fuel to other countries under certain circumstances.
There were already in the past some proposals schemes like shipping spent nuclear fuel to Wake Atoll or to Australia and Argentina It should be a priority for the environmentalists and parliamentarians to find solutions to legally ban the exports. The EU Directive on Transport of Nuclear Material is the process of being amended and the Directive on Radioactive Waste Management is in preparation. They are both tabled for soon is the European Commission Directorate General for Transport and Energy (DG TREN). We have a very bad experience with DG TREN and its Commissioner Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, so one can assume in which direction these directives will be targeted. But the European Commission is not the alone so obviously, the European Parliament and the Council should make sure that these directives will be directed in the right way.
Last point: the Euratom reform. This is an idea that has kept coming up again and again over the years, but now it seems that after the end of the Coal and Steal Treaty, there is a new kind of initiative to review the treaty. And it gives another opportunity to change the position on radioactive waste exports. I would like to discuss this point further on.
Finally, I would like to draw this attention on the fact that today and tomorrow, the heads of governments of the G8 countries plus the EU as part of the G8, will discuss the US proposal for a so-called 10+10 over 10 initiative. The idea in brief, is that there should be 10 billion dollars from the US + 10 billion dollars from the other G8 allocated over 10 years to be spent on various non-proliferation projects, including the disposition of weapons-grade plutonium and according to our information, part of this money could be used to clean up North-West Russia. In reality, this is opening a lot of resources, a lot of opportunities and also a lot of risks. Therefore it is very important for the European Parliament to watch this very carefully. It is very big money, and it could be used for extremely dangerous projects like using the plutonium as MOX fuel in the Russian reactors.
I think this is not a coincidence that these days, there are rumours about the idea of a repository in Novaya Zemlya. There are different opinions on this project and it is another issue we should watch closely.
— Vladimir Tchouprov (Greenpeace) :
I am very happy that the European Community is trying to solve the utilisation of nuclear waste issue in Russia. Being a Russia citizen myself and aware of what is going on, I would like to suggest as a basic principal for the work of the IPWG the transparency of the information and the fact that we should try to change the situation within the Russian government, first of all within Minatom, while they still refuse to recognise that the existing structures are unable to solve the problems.
Until now, Minatom has not accepted its responsibility in the Chernobyl accident. The same goes for Mayak. I dont know how the European Commission is going to work with Minatom when its axe Minister calls the Chernobyl catastrophe a fire and a local incident. Greenpeace published a booklet about Chelyabinsk, where the local population is suffering from the consequences of the accident in the 1950ies. It was a complete surprise for the Russian society and Minatom denied its responsibility and stated that there were no cancer problems or accident-related diseases in this region.
We really have to introduce some changes in Minatoms structures, otherwise, the situation will result in the usual squeezing of foreign countries for money like the attempt to receive 270 million dollars from the Scandinavian countries: we dont know where they are going to spend the money. Most likely for new construction sites at Mayak the European Commissions work will be discredited and once again, the Russian population will be disappointed and face corruption and thefts on all levels. Thank you.
— Astrid Thors :
I am astonished by the last remark about the Nordic countries intending to spend 270 million dollars: if you please could give me more details afterwards, as there is going to be a visit by the Minister responsible for this money in Finland tomorrow to Murmansk, maybe we should look at it.
But there are many dangers of misunderstandings or misconceptions and I would like to clarify one point: I did not say that Russia alone should take the financial responsibility but as long as we dont have this famous liability convention and the MNEPR one also, not much is happening. Looking at the situation in Russia, we should have a common responsibility and to have a starting point, it is necessary to have some common instruments in place, like the liability question, the access to environmental information, the way Russian citizens can have access to such information and the impact assessments of the situation are very important points.
Clearly when we look at the future work of the IPWG, of course there are dangers, as you pointed out, but in a way, I would say that there are dangers with the fundamentalist approach: we can have here with our colleagues different arguments regarding the nature of nuclear power and how it can be dealt with but that should not prohibit and hinder the IPWG in its aim to clear up and define what are the international responsibilities, national and international norms to be implemented. We need to go further on this.
— Simon Carroll (Greenpeace) :
A distinction was made earlier between the terms spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. I think it is important to know that when it comes to trans-boundary movements, the Joint Convention on the Safety of SNF Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management make no distinction : the provisions are equally applicable. I believe that all EU Member States belong to this Convention, that now has entered into force (apart from Portugal). Russia is not part of it. Why hasnt it sign it yet? If you look at article 27, dealing with trans-boundary movements, neither a State of origin, nor a State of destination for spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste should accept such movements unless it has the administration and technical or regulatory structures necessary to deal with it adequately. To me, that is fundamental: there is no distinction whether this spent fuel is intended for reprocessing or not.
Secondly, on the liability question: I have participated for almost 10 years in the International Atomic Energy Agency negotiations on the revision of the liability regime and there hit a fundamental snag in the negotiation : that was : what are we seeking to protect ? The potential victims? Or the industry? And I think even now, despite the revision, the balance of the international conventions addressing the liability question, are structured around protecting the nuclear industry. And those are the sort of questions that people have when seeking to expand liability arguments with Russia or other countries: they want to expand the nuclear field. Some Members of the EU are not part of any international nuclear liability regime because they consider them too weak. Austria has elected its own liability legislation. Luxembourg too. And Ireland is considering going in the same direction. The reason why is they feel their citizens and their environmentalists will not be adequately protected by the existing regimes.
One final point: in the proposed declaration for the IPWG, there is no reference to any international instruments other than the EU law and I think those references should be included. Thank you.
— Frederic Hauge :
First of all, I am sorry that I had to leave you earlier, but that was our Norwegian Environment Minister calling and I should give my best regards to this meeting from him. He intended to be here but had some urgent business to deal with.
Secondly, a remark on the liability question: according to our experience at Bellona, we think it is important to understand that all this is not a political issue but a commercial issue because what happens is that when we want for example the French company EA or SGN to go and work on this, their insurance company will not let them do it before this liability question is in place. So, how much should they be sure that what they are going to do on Lepse for instance will not create any accident? The insurance companies will always refuse to take responsibility and this is very important to remember.
I also have some other comments. When establishing this IPWG, I think we have to limit the scope of the work. We are not going to discuss whether we are for or against nuclear power here. It is more important to solve the existing problems. Since there were three remarks from Greenpeace, I just want to challenge this organisation a little bit because what is Greenpeace proposing for the waste already existing? I say this because when we proposed that a dry storage facility should be built at the Kola Peninsula, Greenpeace Norway went out heavily against us and for me it is important to know what this kind of organisation could accept.
Because it is easy to criticise. And it demands a lot of knowledge to recommend something. If no environmental movement recommend solutions for the waste already existing, we will never manage to get a public acceptance that is needed to build the different installations. So I am a little bit frustrated on this issue and I hope we can get some more understanding after the lunch break also on this issue. For me, it is very clear, I can accept a dry storage facility at the Kola Peninsula. I dont find any better mountain in the whole Russia to build it. And the I get criticised for it. I think it is important to take into consideration that if we are going to propose solutions and do something concrete, we must avoid the not in my backyard syndrome. And if this conference today could avoid that we now work a year, come up with solutions and then get somebody against us, I would be very happy because I feel a little bit frustrated on this.
I know all this is difficult. Because in one way you can accept something then it can be generated some more waste and you can be put into this and in principal Greenpeace is against that and so on. But we have to be extremely pragmatic. For Andreeva Bay if you want to give a figure about how much nuclear waste there is over there, we have to blow 5000 nuclear bombs as France did in Mururoa to come to the same amount of radioactivity. So it is no room to be dogmatic here if we want to solve this problem. And it is very important to me to give this message to our meeting today for the follow-up work. We have to eat some camels if we are going to solve this problem. Thank you.
— Elisabeth Schroedter : The importation plans and the enlargement perspective
On 4th June 1999 in Cologne the European Summit decided about the common strategy of the EU towards Russia. In point 4 in the Annex II about the common challenges on the European continent the EU talked about the particular cooperation with Russia in the energy and nuclear safety sector:
On the environment and health sector:
The action plan of the Swedish presidency from January 2001 says:
"In line with the conclusions of the European Council in Feira in June 2000, the Presidency will pay particular attention to the implementation of the Northern Dimension Action Plan as regards i.a. the environment and nuclear safety."
"Through Tacis and other sources of assistance the European Union is prepared to continue providing expertise and support in the area of NUCLEAR SAFETY. The agreement "Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation" (MNEPR) would provide the necessary legal framework for assistance to Russia in the field of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel and reactor safety. The conclusion of this Agreement is of essential importance for effective assistance in the area of nuclear safety and waste treatment. The Presidency will strive to step up the process for an early conclusion of the MNEPR-agreement."
In the case of the NIS, the Tacis nuclear safety programme has focused on the following main areas:
In March 2001 Putin was invited to the European Summit in Stockholm. There the prepration talks for the EU/Russia summit in May were done. Commission’s President Romano Prodi and commissioner Loyola de Palacio prepared a communication for the summit about the energy dialogue (the so-called Prodi-plan). In the Communication, Romano Prodi and Loyola de Palacio identify several aims they hoped to see included in the final declaration of the Moscow Summit:
1) the examination of the energy strategies of the two parties in order to allow for their integration;
2) moves for transparency in the energy market;
3) the assessment of transport infrastructures for oil and gas as well as the development needs in this field;
4) a precise timetable for the regulatory reforms necessary to increase investments in the Russian energy sector;
5) an agreement on indicators in order to assess the improvement in prospects offered to investors, notably over the ratification of the "Energy Charter", the creation of a "single interlocutor", the establishment of a rapid dispute settlement procedure;
6) experience sharing, notably in terms of public service obligation;
7) the launching of pilot projects in terms of energy savings, concerning for example the modernization of urban heating systems or pricing systems;
8) technology transfers.
The Greens criticized very much that Russia should not let itself be bribed into becoming the nuclear dustbin of the World (even if the envisaged depositing of 20.000 tons of nuclear waste would earn it 21 billion dollars). Moreover as the import is supposed to be managed by the totally untrustworthy Ministry for Nuclear Energy where widespread corruption has been detected by the Russian Anti-corruption committee.
The last summit in the end of May this year noted the second report on the progress of the High Level Working Group on future cooperation. Both sides welcomed the "dynamism" of the pragmatic approach of the process. "We recognize that the European energy market has now become the largest and the most integrated in the world and that Russia deserves to have access to it", said a joint declaration. On electricity, several questions remain outstanding, such as that on the reciprocity of market opening, environmental and nuclear norms, etc. Finally, Russia reiterated its dissatisfaction about the lack of export opportunities for nuclear products towards the European market.
In the last Strategy-paper from the Commission on Enlargement the Communication underlined the need to examine the positions of the candidate countries on the EU recommendations on nuclear safety and that concerning non-upgradable units [of nuclear power plants] — Ignalina (Lithuania), Bohunice-V1 (Slovakia) and certain units of Kozluduy (Bulgaria)- closure commitments must be respected, and therefore duly included in the Accession Treaties.
The restructuring of the energy sector has progressed at a very slow pace throughout 2001 following delays in the planned revision of the legislative framework. These delays have hindered efficiency improvement and preparation for privatisation. As regards nuclear energy, Bulgaria must respect the de-commissioning commitments of the Memorandum of Understanding and ensure a high level of nuclear safety.
As regards the energy sector, Lithuania has achieved a reasonable level of alignment, but needs to sustain its efforts, notably in the area of the Internal Energy Market. Further work is required also in the field of nuclear energy. Lithuania must confirm and implement its closure commitments and ensure a high level of nuclear safety.
Further positive steps have been taken in the energy sector with the decision to substantially open the domestic electricity market and the launching of the privatisation of major energy companies. As regards nuclear energy, Slovakia should implement its decommissioning commitments, and continue to ensure a high level of nuclear safety.
As you might have heard already the Green/EFA Group in the EP yesterday sent a letter to Commission’s President Romano Prodi asking for clarification on the Commission’s drastic contradictions on the use of nuclear energy in the European Union. The request came one day before the Commission discusses the green book on security of energy supply in the EU, in which according to the press, the Commission will call upon the EU memberstates to keep the nuclear option open to supply energy.
— Boris Vorobyev : The situation in the Andreeva Bay storage for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste and the potential for solutions
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all I would like to thank the organisers of todays meeting for giving me an opportunity to speak at this meeting and that I was invited to speak here today. Secondly, I was a bit surprised when I saw my family name on the list of the speakers. So, I am going to ask you to forgive me as I am not really prepared to speak today and I am not going to give any figures. Nevertheless, I am going to touch upon the trends in the resolution of the Andreeva Bay issue and secondly, I am going to say a few words about how we see the prospective solutions for this issue.
With the assistance of the Bellona Foundation, and we are grateful to them for that, we succeeded to attract attention of some Ministries, Governmental bodies of the Russian Federation and Norway to the issues of the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in the Andreeva Bay. It was very difficult to overcome the obstacles from the side of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, I am glad to say that we succeeded to overcome those obstacles, and we succeeded to implement and illuminate all our projects and the influence of ground waters, the rain and all things, that were the natural causes destroying the storage, also illuminating the danger of the access to the Barents Sea. We are grateful for that to the Administration of the Murmansk region and Minatom that carried out the control of the resolution of this issue. For the last two years and this month just a week ago we carried out a hundred percent survey of population in Zaozersk in order to identify the illnesses and the health problems. For that purpose we invite specialists and doctors from all over the Russian Federation. Last ten years showed that there were no damages to the health of the population of the region. Upon from that, we succeeded to insure in real time control of the state of the environment in the region and adjacent territories. We hope that we will be able to continue this work and each of the parties will contribute in order to achieve the result.
As the second part of my speech, it is concerned the future of this issue. I do not think that Andreeva Bay is a separate issue, it is characteristics of a global problem of the planet Earth where we are still using nuclear reactors.
The fact that we gathered here today shows that it is one of the most important environmental issues that we are all concerned about and we are interested in finding better solution. I do not think we will be able to decline the assistance of the Ministry of the Nuclear Energy of the Russian Federation as most nuclear physicists work for these enterprises belonging to the Ministry. And I do not think we will be able to resolve this issue without their assistance. Besides, It was already said here today that science should be attracted, the scientists should be invited to have a pass because we do not know what to do with what had left after the exploitation of the nuclear reactors.
I think we should be very careful about financing issues. We should allocate some funds for financing the scientific research in this field. We should ask ourselves if we can stop using nuclear reactors?! Probably, not. As to maintain necessary level of living in our countries we really need nuclear power. I do not think we will be able to replace it by something else, but we cant put this problem aside. It does not depend what we think about it. It is still there. One of the very important elements of the nuclear safety of our states is the public supervision and public control. Without it we will not be able to organise our work and to minimize the risks involved in exploitation of nuclear reactors and the spent fuel and so on. That is why, taking into account all the components of this issue, we should well understand that it cannot be resolved within next two or three years. It will take a lot of time, a lot of effort. And we should understand that while trying to resolve this issue, different companies, enterprises, governmental bodies and organizations will think about their own interest as well. If the wishes of different organizations will be directed in the same direction, we are not going to have any problems with that, but if not, it might be a catastrophe.
I would like to thank you for inviting me here today. I understood a lot and I have learned a lot of things here today, and there are quite a lot of things that I can tell the citizens of Zaozersk after this meeting. Thank you for your attention.
— Siri Engesaeth:
I would like to excuse Mr. Derek Taylor, Head of Unit on nuclear issues in DG Tren, who cant be here today. He was with us yesterday evening and we talked a lot about todays meeting, but unfortunately, he had to excuse himself at the last moment. He is indeed currently working on a new proposal for future legislation on nuclear waste management in DG Tren and that is why he can not join us today. However, he told me he was very concerned and ready to participate in our discussion and gave his email and phone number in case there would be any questions for him, so please feel free contacting him.
We have today with us some representatives from the European Commission, but they are here as listeners, in order to know more about our work and to express the European Commissions concern regarding the issues were are debating today. It is sometimes hard to get funding for them, because of a somewhat negative connotation for nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel problems, but the most important is to improve the general safety.
We are also currently distributing a draft paper for the IPWG to reach a common position on the issue of import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia and we will have a chance to discuss it after Alexander Nikitins speech. Bellona will of course send the final version with possible changes afterwards to anyone interested. The next step of our work will be a meeting in Murmansk in October, as Mr. Staes said it, and actually thanks to his initiative as a Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Russia Cooperation Committee.
— Alexander Nikitin: The NGO point of view from inside and outside Russia
Many thanks, Siri. Today is a very important meeting, where we are discussing crucial
As the Chairman of the Environmental Rights Center — Bellona, I will try to give our
point of view regarding what is happening on the nuclear energy and reprocessing issues in
Three days ago, there was a conference in Chelyabinsk where I was. The first part of this conference was about the Environment and Human Rights and the second on Nuclear issues in Russia. Around 150 representatives of various Russian NGOs were attending this meeting, thus offering a possibility to listening and exchanging points of view. The link between civil society and future nuclear programmes in Russia was also discussed and we also had a chance to express our position.
We have to agree today that we will not manage to close down all the nuclear power plants that have been working for several decades in Russia. This is impossible. Therefore, we must concentrate on how to address the nuclear safety problems in this country.
I agree with most of what has been said previously, but I have a little disagreement regarding one point, and I will try to explain my opinion.
We are told that the North-West Russia, the Kola Peninsula and the Murmansk region need the nuclear energy and new nuclear power plants. A report on the natural resources contained in these areas was issued not long ago, stating that these are among the most powerful regions regarding potential wind energy. What should be done then to improve such an energy source? What does the Russian government about it? Nothing. There is not a single kopek for this kind of projects at all and no political will to support them. On the contrary, projects and people working in this direction are usually undermined by the authorities. And this is because the nuclear industry is so powerful and object to any kind of new approach towards other sources of energy. Therefore, the conclusion is that new nuclear power plants are needed and I am also sure that after Minatom has built many nuclear power plants along the Russian borders, there will probably be some projects to sell them to Africa or other places on earth, thus wide-spreading the Russian technology and the potential dangers throughout the whole world.
I think we do not have to explain here today what are these dangers. We must carefully check what is happening in Russia, as nothing is done to improve the situation. Of course, energy issues are internal (national) concerns, but on the other hand, if the country is ready to exploit nuclear energy further on, then it should be responsible for general safety requirements. It must guarantee to the international Community and especially to the EU that new nuclear power plants will be safe and it must be responsible for the resulting waste. When Finland builds a new nuclear power plant, it is normal that it wont send its waste abroad. As for Russia, when they envisage to deal with nuclear waste and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel only through getting money agreements to get rid of them, we are afraid and we feel this is not normal.
So the question to import foreign spent nuclear fuel should be discussed with all NGOs and civil society actors in Russia. When it comes to some figures we have talked about – 2.5 million signatures where collected for a referendum, up to 90% of the population oppose the import plans — some say they are only emotional evaluations of the situation. It is true, who would like to see nuclear waste around their house? But on the other hand, the authorities have lied to the people for so long about these issues that such figures reveal how much the Russian population does not trust the government, the administration and the State Duma. People defend themselves so that they are not deceived again.
When I was in Chelyabinsk, I could talk with people working at the reprocessing plant Mayak. They have been working there all their life, having health problems, then they retire, go to hospital where they are supposed to receive a medical card proving the link between their working conditions and health situation. Then they are told this card does not belong to them and that they will never get it. This is the type of relations between the government and the people. During that time, Mayak still releases radioactive pollution to the open air and everything is closed, there is no access to any king of information: how do you want that people trust the President and the import plans in such conditions? Who could believe that the money will indeed be spent to environmental projects, in order to rehabilitate the troubles areas concerned? This is not realistic.
As a professional nuclear engineer, I have spent almost all my life working on these issues. In my opinion, what has happened in the State Duma for the new legislation authorising the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia is a step that was not prepared, not ready, not analysed properly. The Russian Members of Parliament voted without thinking enough and without consulting the population, and according to me, this is a big mistake.
Now the question to control the exploitation of the nuclear energy: if NGOs can not control the safety conditions, what is happening concretely in this industry, the population will never believe that the situation is safe. Our history with Chernobyl, Mayak or the nuclear tests in Novaya Zemlya does not give us a chance to trust anyone. This field is one of the most closed one ever, there is not any access to information: how can therefore believe what Ministers Adamov or Rumyantsev say? In my opinion, this is impossible for the civil society to trust them.
In the Russian State Duma or the Russian administration, people come and leave whereas the people stay and suffer. We must address all these problems very professionally, carrying expert analyses and studies. That is what Bellona does, constantly trying to work at the highest level.
I know the situation in Andreeva Bay has been discussed a lot already, and this is not the only place where there are troubles. But we can talk for hours about problems related to nuclear energy exploitation. The most important is to aim at solving the problems and in our view, the most urgent situations to deal with are those of the Kola Peninsula, the Murmansk region and most of all, Andreeva Bay, with the base of Gremikha for instance. We must orientate our forces towards these places, find solutions there, find money for projects there and lobby to solve the problems there. Thank you.
Discussion and Conclusions
— Siri Engesaeth :
Thank you Alexandr. Now we are ready for the discussion. I just
.. = sur PASKO (
Not all can bit the KGB and we did.
— Bart Staes :
— Elisabeth Schroedter :
There are two different and incomparable approaches to this question. One of the theses says that the nuclear energy does not affect our organs. On the other hand, the Russians scientists have a totally different analysis: there are heavy consequences, not only from the Chernobyl accident, but also in peoples daily life, the radiation in the food is for example one of the major problems. But the scientists from the former Soviet union, from Ukraine or Belarus are not internationally recognised. Why? Because it would question the whole nuclear system, all the nuclear power plants.
It is the same in Germany, around the nuclear power plants on the Northern coast, the cancer rates are increasing because of the existence of the nuclear power plant and if this was recognised by the international authorities, most of the reactors should be closed down and local people should received compensations. It would cost so much that they prefer not to touch this issue.
It is the same problem also with low-level radiation release in mines of uranium in the former Soviet union. Now they are closed but nothing of the problem has been recognised officially and no compensations were given. I know all that because I leaved in such a region.
— Frederic Hauge :
Of course, in the same areas as Chelyabinsk, we have health consequences and a lot of material and studies exist about this. When it comes to the Kola Peninsula, the background level of radiation is quite ok. (In fact, it is higher in Oslo because of radon and other things). Not a lot of food is produced there either. So there are mainly health consequences for the workers and their children, the real heroes working to safeguard the nuclear waste. And this is the main problem in the region.
There are other sources of contamination as well: for instance, during the nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya, the level of radiation increased a lot and local people were removed from the area but it is hard to talk about figures, because many people go there to work some time, then leave. During the nuclear testing, it increased to 20 Bq per kilo of fish meat in the Barents Sea, which is not more than the average today in the Baltic Sea. In the Barents Sea today, there are around 0.5 Bq per kilo of fish meat and it is still one of the cleanest oceans in the world.
If radiation from both the reactors of the Kursk had completely been spread out in the water, it would have been the same amount released than for the nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya. In theory, we could have increased to 20 Bq per kilo but as I said before, there is not a major food production in the region.
So I think we must concentrate on the health consequences for the workers. The main problem in Andreeva Bay is to know how many people do you contaminate when you clean up the region? To give an illustration, when we started to work with the ship Lepse, the Russian plans were to target to Novaya Zemlya, build a channel and dump everything in there. Wow! As environmentalists, we are a bit dogmatic so we said this was stupid. But if at that time we should have used the existing technology to decommission the Lepse boat, we would have contaminated 5000 workers with a yearly maximum dose. Then it maybe make some more sense to develop this idea at Novaya Zemlya. Therefore we have concentrated very much on how to establish the best technology and that is what we should focus on: how can we get robotics, remote control operation systems to clean up this situation. It is the major challenge, if not we are going to contaminate a lot of people.
— Elisabeth Schroedter :
And the main problem is the contamination from the decommissioning also because of the lack of information, the lack of experience on how to make it in a safe way.
— Frederic Hauge :
The Lepse village was created for the workers who leaved onboard of Lepse. The next step is Andreeva Bay. We must create good conditions for the people to work without getting contaminated. If we dont do that, we wont get new people to educate for nuclear safety and also new people to work with these issues. Then it will be a big problem in the future.
— Alexandr Nikitin :
Just a little remark. At the conference I mentioned earlier, we had some representatives of the genetics science. They have examined some changes in humans body linked to nuclear issues and there are results and studies about this also in English. I will try and send you some copies.
— Sergey Mitrokhin :
I know were are running out of time, as we have to finish at 4. But let me say a few words about the document we have to adopt now, the declaration of the working group.
First of all, I fully agree with Bellonas position, paper on the issue, maybe we could adopt this document instead of the one we have now! But ok, back to the text suggested. There are some dubious formulations to delete. For example, it sets the context as if European countries have already adopted a decision to export nuclear waste to Russia. Maybe it is just the way to say it that was not particularly clear here so I suggest to change it. In the first paragraph : having discussed problems with (check the text), it is a if we meant we have discussed the question of importation, but we havent done it yet, we have divergent views and not one single idea.
Then the name of the working group. We dont know about the plans to import spent nuclear fuel from the European countries right now. Therefore, I suggest IPWG on the appropriateness of this question, so that it wouldnt sort of oblige us to give a certain answer already, just leaves it open and we can discuss it later.
We must say one of the aims of this group is to examine the question and I would like to add the question of the appropriateness of the importation projects.
For the results of our work, I suggest that a report would be made, studying the possible ways to envisage the problem. We can add it in the aims, maybe in paragraph 2 : the first one is about the exchange of information then the second will be about this report. Then there is another formulation I didnt quite understand: it is far too broad. It refers to the European Commission to work out a specific policy. We dont know what kind of policy it will be and we would like to give our own ideas, our decision first. This is a question that needs to be answered by our group so to direct and report on that will be the result of our working group to the European Commission.
— Valentin Luntsevich :
I agree. I also wanted to introduce a proposal to establish a studying group on the situation of the import of spent nuclear fuel. Whether it should be imported to Russia or not, as long as the decision belongs to the competence of individual States and the competent authorities, it depends on whether they have a national legislation in that field. But the group should follow the regulation of national legislations on the issues related to the import to Russia and export from the EU countries. Our activity should be focused on these two points and maybe a report should be prepared but who is going to do it? I would like to get it right: is it going to be dealt by a group of experts hired by Bellona? This is one approach. Or maybe we should adopt another alternative approach and listen to a number of different opinions, as there is a whole range of issues on which we should have the opinion of independent experts and different evaluations.
Of course, I understand Mr. Mitrokhin thinks we shouldnt import spent nuclear fuel as it can negatively affect our future generations or influence Minatom sites, affect health and lives of people. It will be the words of an amateur but based on my own experience,
If I am going to co-operate with this working group, I would like to say that if the decision taken [regarding importation of spent nuclear fuel to Russia] is indeed harmful, I might change my mind but so far I think Im not wrong.
A few words on the declaration now. I support each point but I would suggest one change in the first paragraph and go further than my colleague. We shouldnt limit our work only to Russian problems: this is not very productive. We should work on the issue of inter-state commercial input including the foreign spent nuclear fuel companies situated in the Russian Federation. We should discuss the projects of the French nuclear company Cogema and the treatment of Japanese and German waste and so on. We should try and solve the problem at a State level, at the most serious level possible and have a broader look.
— Frederic Hauge :
I think a good way to work would be if Mr. Staes and Mr. Mitrokhin could work out this text a little more until our next meeting. I also wanted to say something because we start here to work with the import of nuclear waste to Russia but Sellafield was mentioned earlier: this question is very much to be discussed because Russia may be with a situation that would help solving some of the Sellafields problems. So, we have a lot to go on with.
First of all, I want this group to be oil in the machinery when it comes to legislation issues because we need a better common understanding: MEPs need to understand what is going on regarding the legislation and for on the Russian side, its important to know what the European Parliament has that should be in place for funding, when it comes to legislation.
I think transparency is very important. We should be a kind of watchdog to ensure that there is equality between EU and Russia on openness, because not everything is open in Europe when it comes to nuclear waste either! We should try and establish common standards here. And I mentioned technology: I think this is extremely important to focus on where the EU and have respectively good technology; something Parliamentarians can achieve some results on if we coordinate our efforts and exchange information. All this ending up in the funding of concrete solutions should be our common goal.
As I said in my introduction speech earlier today, I feel a lack of how to say? a lack of Bolchoï plan, which I dont think in fact is too complicated because we know we can build storage and transportation containers, we can build a storage facility, so we have to get a better understanding around, and then maybe within one year we could come up with a king of recommendation from the different Members of Parliament, saying this is the plan, we agree on this, this should be funded if the legislation is like this, this and this.
Because I feel the atmosphere is quite good here so we shouldnt only discuss the import of nuclear waste to Russia. It is also important for me to exchange information, because I have a lot of problems with nuclear waste in Europe too and I would like to see if there are some Russian solutions for that.
So, all participants should send their suggestions and Bellona will be a sort of secretariat for all this. It is very-very important to coordinate our efforts if we are going to make a breakthrough when it comes to finding. If I can just sum up, it is all about: transport, legislation, transparency, technology and funding. We need to exchange information between Parliamentarians on these issues.
— Astrid Thors :
I think there are many interesting views today. My suggestion would be that the two co-chairs would issue as soon as possible a joint statement, inviting other colleagues to join the work. It could be very good.
I have been listening very carefully all the things that Frederic said because I think they are the right ones. To deal with this problem and talking about legislation, we should play an important role in monitoring the application of the international convention entering into force and look at the need for new conventions.
— Sergey Mitrokhin :
I fully support this proposal. We should finalise a text and I am sure there will be more people on the Russian and European sides, willing to participate in our work and also use experts. We should avoid subjectivity, not to exclude possibilities as a result of the report on this issue, we will inform people about certain divergent views because the fact that they exist can be very substantive, so we shouldnt only try to achieve a uniformed thinking but present alternative points of view on this issue.
We must try and reach an optimal solution. We will coordinate our actions with Mr. Staes and will work out a text acceptable for anyone. We should also rely on experts.
We should compare our information and data, obtained from different sources, especially those obtained by our colleagues from other countries (like France, Germany ). Then we could compare our opinions and reach an objective position. This would also widen the sources for information as the more we have the better. This will encourage peoples trust in us as well.
— Frederic Hauge :
It is important to remember we all have different points of view on the topic discussed here. Many years ago, I was a heavy environmental activist, digging up the nuclear waste in different factories and so on. Then all the politicians started to say that the environment was an important subject. And we are coming to a situation where we have a lot of discussions with the industry but the main challenge remains to get carried out what we agreed upon.
This is the situation here too: we will have different views on things here, but a common understanding that something has to be done and a working method. We sum up what we agreed on. If we manage to do that, we can wait a couple of years with all the discussions on what we disagree on.
Another point : the non-proliferation issue. There is a lot of attention today about this issue and it is to be looked at as well. We understand the problem, we have the facts, we start to have an overview on what is possible for a technical solution so we have to star with what we agree on also, then we can go quite far on this issue.
— Vladimir Tchouprov :
We wrote a letter to GAN about the situation in Minatom on the question of the import of spent nuclear fuel. If your are interested in this, you can find more information on Greenpeaces website.
— Bart Staes :
So we have fixed the date of our next meeting, which will take place in Murmansk in October.
— Siri Engesaeth :
I just wanted to say that Bellona has many very good contacts with experts in this field and on the health issue in the US, who would be interested in working on that. But we must be very careful and use the information correctly, as we dont want to raise peoples fear and apathy.
— Sergey Mitrokhin :
Thank you to all the participants. It was a fruitful meeting.
I am very grateful to Bellona, who organised this event which can become a cornerstone of our collaboration. It is interesting how an international NGO can be responsible for the organisation of a dialogue between Members of Parliament from two different countries. It makes it possible to achieve a result that can influence the politics of different states and international federation like the EU.
We just gave life to this co-operation and I hope we will have many similar meetings to develop common positions on such important issues as nuclear power and a co-operation in this field.