RT-2 Referendum Rejected

Publish date: April 28, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The Krasnoyarsk County Council rejected the initiative to hold a referendum on banning the construction of spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant RT-2 on April 18. Both the hearing and the vote were closed to the public.

In the middle of March the regional administration recognised 86,234 signatures on a demand for a referendum against the ongoing construction of the RT-2 reprocessing plant in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. In total, green movement activists had collected 98,255 signatures. To back the claim for a referendum only 50,000 signatures are needed. According to Greenpeace in Moscow, every third family in Krasnoyarsk backed the petition.

At the County Council hearings on April 18, the initiative was rejected by a majority of the deputies. The Council referred to the RT-2 being subject to supervision by Federal authorities in Moscow, leaving county authorities powerless in the matter.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace representative in Moscow Ivan Blokov, argues that the Russian environmental legislation grants county authorities all the rights to reject the construction of an object on the territory under their jurisdiction, given that the object might be hazardous to the environment. In response to that, the deputies of Krasnoyarsk County prefer to wait for the results of an environmental report which is not ready yet. One may expect that the conclusions of the involved experts will be in favour of further construction of the plant.

The activists of the local environmental movement in Krasnoyarsk have already filed a complaint at the county court. The court should deal with the complaint within 40 days. In case the court decision is negative towards the referendum, Greenpeace Russia is ready to back the case all the way up to the Supreme court of the Russian Federation in Moscow.

Construction of the new reprocessing plant in Krasnoyarsk-26 was authorised in 1977, although actual construction works were not started until 1984-1985. The RT-2 plant will reprocess spent nuclear fuel from light water reactors such as the VVER-1000. In 1989 the construction works, then 30-40 % complete, were halted, due both to a lack of funding and strong opposition against the facility on the local level. By the end of 1994 it was necessary to allocate 1.4 billion US dollars in order to complete the construction. 80 % of the spent fuel to be reprocessed by RT-2 is expected to come from abroad.