Bellona tours the U.S.A.

Publish date: November 23, 1998

Written by: Thomas Jandl

Touring the U.S. Northeast earlier this month, members of the Bellona Russian studies group spoke of the Nikitin case, hazardous nuclear material in Russia and the connection between these issues.

Slowly but surely, Bellona’s message is spreading across the Atlantic and takes hold in the United States. This is important, given the position Washington occupies in environmental security questions worldwide.

Members of the Bellona Russian studies group toured the Northeast of the United States November 9 through 15 to participate in various conferences. The message was two-fold: (1) The Nikitin case is a watershed for the future of international cooperation in Russia’s nuclear waste management and cleanup; and (2) the situation in NW Russia has gotten worse rather than better, and more international efforts are needed to stabilize hazardous materials.

Bellona’s Thomas Nilsen and Nils Bøhmer spoke at the Cold War Toxic Legacy conference of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. The conference featured a variety of well-known experts in the fields of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The speakers spoke to topics ranging from a status report of the problems to potential solutions.

Nilsen, Bøhmer and Igor Kudrik then briefed U.S. media on the nuclear waste situation and the Nikitin case during a press breakfast at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Linking the two issues, one question from the audience pointed to the difficult but important issue of not allowing the Nikitin case, albeit of the highest importance, to undermine Bellona’s core activities in nuclear waste management.

At a conference at the Coalition for Peace Action in Princeton, N.J., Nilsen underlined the importance of defending activists like Nikitin in order to hold governments accountable for their actions and to allow a continued international dialogue about nuclear weapons and other radioactive military materials.

Around these activities, Bellona secured support from the Cooperative Threat Reduction program at the Pentagon (the U.S. Defense Department), the Energy Department, the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency for its January 1999 Interparliamentarian Working Group meeting in Washington.