German and Russian environmentalists protest against nuclear waste imports

Publish date: March 28, 2007

On March 26, Russian and German environmentalists protested against importing nuclear-waste from Germany into Russia.

The protests, which took place next to the headquarters of the energy giant E.On in the German city of Düsseldorf, were organized by the anti-nuclear activist groups “Ecodefense!” and “Aktionsbündnis Münsterland gegen Atomanlagen”.

According to environmental reports, “Urenco Deutschland Gmbh” has been exporting depleted uranium from their plant in Gronau to Russia since 1996.

Experts say that about 10 % of the nuclear waste enriched in Russia used to go back to Europe, and nearly 90 % stayed in Siberia and the Urals for permanent storage. Over the past 2-3 years, however, the atomic waste that Urenco sent to Rosatom plants contained such a small amount of uranium that further enrichment was hardly possible.

Over the past ten years about 20,000 tons of nuclear waste were imported from Gronau into Russia. According to Russian environmental law, the import of nuclear waste into Russia – for any purpose – is illegal.

As was discovered by the environmental group “Ecodefense!”, Urenco’s production costs would rise about five times if they had to deal with their atomic waste themselves. This would make the company uncompetitive on the energy market.

In early March further radioactive waste was imported from Gronau into Russia and transported to four different Siberian uranium enrichment plants.

In the course of protests in Düsseldorf, Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of “Ecodefense!”, said that the group’s goal was “to stop the import of nuclear waste into Russia.” According to Slivyak, the German energy company E.On should “do their utmost to stop this immoral business”.