Duma environmentalists about radwaste storage on Simushir

Publish date: July 18, 2000

The Duma Environmental Committee is against import of nuclear waste, but in favour of construction of radwaste storage in the earthquake zone.

July 1, 2000, Russian daily Segodnya reported about the project of importing spent nuclear fuel and radioactive materials from Taiwan to Russia, and its further storage at Simushir Island, one of the Kuril Islands in the Russian Far East. In early June this year, the leaders of the major State Duma factions, the lower house of the Russian parliament, the head of the Russian Cabinet and the Minister for Natural Resources received a letter from Sergey Shashurin, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Environmental Committee. They were all asked to support construction of a storage site for Kurchatov Institute radioactive waste at the Kuril Islands. And so they did, except for the Union of Rightist Forces headed by Boris Nemtsov.

Already one week after the article was published the Environmental Committee of the Russian State Duma stepped up its rhetoric against plans to build radioactive waste storage. “The Committee examined the documents presented to the Government and the article in Segodnya. The Committee did not support initiative of deputy Sergey Shashurin and drew attention of the Government that these actions were unacceptable,” Vladimir Mandrygin, chief of the Committee administration, said to Segodnya.

Segodnya also wrote that it seemed like Vladimir Mandrygin found out about the initiative of the member of his Committee only from the newspaper, while nearly the whole State Duma was aware of the project and supported it. The head of the committee could not explain to Segodnya which of the Shashurin’s initiatives was not supported by the committee – radwaste storage site construction or import of nuclear waste from Taiwan.

Co-chairman for ECODEFENSE! Vladimir Slivyak, who obtained the project documents, referring to a source in the State Duma said that “Duma environmentalists” were only against import of nuclear waste. It means that the idea of constructing radwaste storage site at the island is still in force. The Sakhalin department of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring asked the Moscow head office about possible construction of radwaste storage at Simushir island. “The issue about construction of radioactive waste storage at Simushir was really raised in the State Duma. No decision has been made. A representative of the Ministry of Atomic Energy said that construction of radwaste storage at this island was unacceptable as it was situated in the earthquake zone,” said Valery Chelyukanov, Chief of Environmental Programs and Pollution Monitoring Department of the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring.