Russian MPs fight nuclear fuel import bills

Publish date: March 12, 2001

Written by: Rashid Alimov

A group of State Duma members is to resist spent nuclear fuel import bills. Nuclear minister, Yevgeny Adamov, tours nuclear reprocessing plant verifying readiness to accept foreign spent fuel.

The resistance to the bills favouring spent nuclear fuel imports, passed in the first reading in December 2000, is growing in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament.

Under the initiative of MP Sergey Apatenko, a group of Duma members from various factions was established to fight the nuclear bills. Today the group includes 12 MPs, among them member of the Duma Legislation Committee, Yuly Rybakov, deputy chairman of the Property Committee, Michael Yemelyanov, member of the Committee for Energy, Transport and Communication, Vladimir Semyonov, and MP Viktor Pokhmelkin from Righteous Forces faction.

The antinuclear opposition, growing in the Duma, claims, that the amendments proposed by the Ministry for Nuclear Energy, or Minatom, had not passed the required state environmental evaluations before the first reading. It impeded the MPs to estimate the real danger of the Minatom’s projects.

Now, after a long delay, new bills, which differ strongly from the documents, passed in the first reading, have been put forward for an expert commission. New variant of the bill should also pass the state environmental evaluations, the MPs say.

The Energy Committee versus the Anti-corruption Commission
According to Russian daily Vremya MN, Minatom tries to facilitate passing the nuclear import bills in the second reading, allying with Duma’s Committee for Energy, Transport and Communication. At the same time, a scandal is taking off around the private commercial activity of the nuclear minister, Yevgeny Adamov.

Duma’s anti-corruption commission, after having verified minister’s activities, ascertained, that the facts “of his involvement in commercial activity, while working as the head of secret NIKIET Institute and in the capacity of the minister for nuclear energy, have found confirmation”.

Anti-corruption commission stated, that Adamov’s manpower policy, while being in the rank of the minister for the nuclear energy, is characterised by “the replacement of highly skilled professionals with exterior persons connected with him by their common enterprise activity”. The idea of spent nuclear fuel import to Russia, which is actively promoted by Adamov, may also be a part of his private commercial interest.

Duma’s anti-corruption commission recommended that all information related to Adamov’s activities be submitted to the President, the Security Council, Russian Federation Government, the Federal Security Service, and Prosecutor General’s office. The second reading of the spent fuel import bills scheduled for February 22nd was postponed until March 22nd. The reason for postponement may well be the anti-corruption commission report.

Adamov inspects Mayak reprocessing plant
In the meantime, nuclear minister Adamov is arriving to Chelyabinsk region on March 16th -17th. The primary purpose of this trip will be a visit to the Mayak reprocessing plant, located in the closed city of Ozersk, RBC reported.

The plant specialises on reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants and nuclear submarines. Adamov is particularly interested in construction of a vitrification plant for highly active liquid waste generated during reprocessing. The plant is to be launched during the year 2001. Without the vitrification plant the reprocessing may halt as the storage tanks for high active liquid waste are filling up.

In case the nuclear fuel import bills are passed, the Mayak plant counts on managing the major share of the imported spent fuel.