Supreme Court to Hear Appeals on Hungarian Spent Fuel Shipment

Publish date: April 16, 2002

Written by: Charles Digges

Russia's supreme court this month will hear the federal government's appeal to its decision to stop a load of Hungarian spent nuclear fuel (SNF) shipped to the Mayak reprocessing facility in 1998, Nuclear Power Ministry and court officials said Tuesday.

According to First Deputy Minister of Nuclear Power, Nikolai Shingarev, the court will reexamine its decision to overturn a presidential decree signed by then president Boris Yeltsin in October 1998 that sanction the delivery of SNF from Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant. Court officials confirmed the appeal would be heard at the end of April, but could not confirm a date.

The Hungarian shipment predated Russia’s 2001 legislation that legalized the import of radioactive waste. As such, it was sanctioned by presidential decree. But environmental groups from Chelyabinsk, where the Mayak reprocessing facility is located, as well as activists from the environmental group ‘Greenpeace,’ filed suit to have the decree overturned. The court agreed with the plaintiff, but the Federal Government intervened with an appeal.

Shingarev said Tuesday in a telephone interview that the court’s initial decision had been ‘unmotivated and unfounded,’ even though legislation at the time prohibited such imports. Shingarev, however dismissed such objections by saying ‘it was a presidential decree, and in any case such imports are legal now. We expect to win.’

Aside from legalizing imports of radioactive waste, the law also gives Russia the right to ship fuel, once reprocessed, back to its country of origin.