Mayak gathers public support for new NPP

Publish date: November 30, 2000

Written by: Edward Meilakh

While envirogroups are recovering from the defeat with failed environmental referendum, their opponents have started collecting signatures in support for building of the South-Ural nuclear power plant.

Officials at the Mayak reprocessing plant announced that they had started collecting signatures in the Chelyabinsk region in support for the construction of the South-Ural nuclear power plant. The nuclear industry is taking in use the tactics of NGOs, which they despised earlier.

Commenting on the signatures collected by environmental groups all over Russia for a national environmental vote, nuclear officials said “technical questions must be resolved by experts, without any public involvement”. But now they feel a need to rely on the public opinion as well in attempt to get support for the construction of the highly controversial South-Ural nuclear power plant.

The forms used to collect signatures have no fields such as ‘place of residence’ or ‘passport number’. Therefore there is a way open for forgery.

Sociologist Nadezhda Kutepova from the closed nuclear city of Ozersk says she fears the signatures will be collected in Ozersk only. This city totally depend on the Mayak reprocessing plant, and the population will be naturally supportive towards a new nuclear power plant.

“Anyway, we can expect that the collected signatures will be used only for a political pressure, because without passport numbers they have no legal ground,” says Kutepova.

The construction of the South-Ural nuclear power plant started in 1987, but the work was halted in 1989 after the local county administration opposed the plan. The plant’s construction site is situated 10 kilometres from Ozersk, north of Chelyabinsk City.