No contracts for spent nuclear fuel imports in Russia for 2004

Publish date: January 9, 2004

Russia’s Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said on Wednesday that Russia is unlikely to sign any new contracts for the import of spent nuclear fuel, or SNF, to Russia for storage and reprocessing, the Itar-Tass Russian news agency reported.

“We are simply barred from that very lucrative market,” Rumyantsev said. According to Rumyantsev, “the world market of SNF has been long divided among other countries, first of all the USA and France.” Indeed, the United States controls an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the world’s SNF.

“No negotiations on possible contracts are being held presently,” he added. Legislation allowing the import of SNF to Russia for temporary storage and procession was passed amid heated debate in 2001. Minatom at the time promised that some $20 billion over the next 20 years would flow into government coffers because of the import plan.

But the imports—which include only a handful of former Soviet Bloc countries, some of whom are given large discounts because they cannot afford to pay the going rate for storage—have failed to materialise on the scale the ministry predicted. Various polls have shown that up to 90 percent of the Russian public is opposed to the import of foreign spent nuclear fuel.