To the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
February 24, 2000
Dear Mr. Minister,
We, the leaders of the public organisations who undersigned this letter, want you to pay attention to the problems concerning spent nuclear fuel of the Russian Northern Fleet. We share the concern of the Norwegian Government regarding the safety of spent nuclear fuel storage in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk regions, and possibility of the radioactive discharge into the environment as we have bad experience of the radioactive contamination of our regions.
We express our gratitude to the parliament and the government of Norway as since 1994 they have been helping Russia to solve problems of radiation security. At the same time we consider very important to inform you about our concerns regarding two projects financed by the Norwegian government.
1. In the beginning of March 2000 construction of four railway carriages will be completed. These carriages are designed for transporting spent nuclear fuel of the marine reactors. Let us remind you that in autumn 1996 several well-known Russian public organisations expressed their protest against Norwegian participation in this project. Besides, together with Bellona there were hearings about this problem organised in the Norwegian parliament. We are confident that transportation of the spent nuclear fuel to Mayak plant for reprocessing does not reduce radiation danger. Moreover, spent fuel transportation is not only dangerous itself but also increases environmental problems in Chelyabinsk region. The project, supported by the Norwegian government, moves the source of radiation danger away from the Norwegian border, and actually increases the possibility of radioactive contamination of the Northern seas with the radioactive waste, which penetrates to the river Ob from Mayak plant. By financing this project the government of Norway takes into consideration only the position of the Russian Ministry of atomic energy, but does not consider the opinion of the residents and administration of Chelyabinsk region, what contributes to the violation of the democratic procedures in Russia.
2. We are also very concerned about the project regarding Norwegian financing of construction of one more storage for spent fuel at Mayak plant. From the point of economical expedience and improvement of environmental and radiation safety it would be more expedient to build such a storage in Murmansk region, where the problems of secure spent fuel storage are not solved. The only reason why Ministry of atomic energy insists on transporting spent nuclear fuel to Chelyabinsk region is continuation of spent fuel reprocessing at the plant "RT-1". In this case contamination of the environment will go on. Karachai Lake will bring threats of the catastrophe equal to Chernobyl.
Dear Mr. Minister, we are expressing hope that our arguments will be heard. We also invite you to visit Chelyabinsk region so you can see with your own eyes the consequences of long-time radioactive discharge for health, environment and economy of the region.
"Movement for nuclear safety", Chelaybinsk
"Centre of Russian Environmental Politics", Moscow
Konstantin Lebedev Environmental-Rights Centre, Tomsk
Environmental Lawyers Network, "Ecojuris", Moscow
"Bellona – St. Petersburg"