Bellona demands the public’s opinion on the city’s second nuclear power plant be heard


Publish date: May 30, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG - Bellona has filed a petition in court against the Smolnenskoye Municipalityfor its refusal to grant the environmental agency the right to register a public environmental impact study of the second Leningrad nuclear power plant, which has received the green light from the government.

The Smolnenksoye Municipality oversees the town of Sosnovy Bor – 50 kilometres to the west of St. Petersburg’s 5 million residents – where the original and controversial Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant is located.

It will now apparently be home to Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 2, and the local government is fighting environmentalists, who are asserting their rights to review plant construction plans and conduct a more rigorous independent environmental review than the rubber stamp the blue prints have already received from Moscow.

Getting independent evaluations however is an uphill battle in today’s legislative climate. Two years ago, Russia rewrote its building codes –which has previously included stipulations for independent environmental evaluations of any structure slated for construction – and cut independent evaluations out of the equation, requiring only that the government give the nod to any planned project.

Thursday, activists from Bellona and the Sosnovy Bor-based Green World took to the streets on Malaya Sadovaya in central St. Petersburg to protest the construction of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 2

“We are critical of the construction of the Leningrad Power Plant 2 near St. Petersburg and are disappointed with the refusal (by local authorities) to register an public environmental impact study,” said Rashid Alimov, editor of Bellona Web’s Russian pages.

On May 27th, Bellona was refused the opportunity to conduct a public environmental impact study of the licensing materials for the construction of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 2. This refusal was the reason for yesterday’s protests..

bodytextimage_bodytextimage_DSC_0527-1..JPG Photo: bellona

Before the protest even began, Bellona was informed by residents of Sosnovy Bor that construction on the plant had begun, but there still has been no public hearing on the project, as so required by Russian law.

At the protest, environmentalists unfurled the Bellona flag and put up a model of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 2 with text showing specific items of public interest:

1. Environmentalists have not been allowed to conduct an environmental impacts study of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant 2’s engineering documents.
2. Documents regarding the accident at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in 1975 have still not been declassified.
3. The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant uses the fatally flawed Chernobyl style RBMK-1000 reactor.
4. No plan yet exists on how to decommission the original Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant.
5. The problem of safely storing the nuclear waste that any nuclear power plant generates has still not been satisfactorily solved anywhere in the world.
6. Two reactors at the original Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant had their engineering life spans illegally extended without an environmental impact study.
7. Seventy-eight percent of the Russian population is against the construction of new nuclear power plants, according to the ROMIR polling agency.
8. Even in conditions of normal operation, children who live in proximity to a nuclear power plant are two and a half times more likely to fall ill with cancer.
9. According to the General Municipal Plan, St. Petersburg falls directly in the fallout zone of any accident at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant.

During the protest, Bellona activists and those who joined in to help them collected signatures against the building of new nuclear power plants. All who wished signed postcards to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Activists also passed out informational fliers and Bellona produced brochures entitled “Energy of the Future” about safe, cheap and readily available alternatives to nuclear energy.