Leak reveals Swiss plans to send nuclear waste to Russia

Greenpeace has released a leaked document revealing secret negotiations between industry officials to allow Swiss nuclear waste to be sent to Russia.


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The document, leaked to Greenpeace in Switzerland, outlines negotiations held in Zurich on September 17, 1998, between representatives of the Swiss nuclear utilities (EGL and NOK) and Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) officials and their commercial agents (Techsnabexport, Russia and Internexco, GmbH, Germany).

In the “Protocol of Intentions”, the Swiss officials request that the agreement permit them to send some 2,000 tonnes of radioactive spent fuel from Swiss reactors to Russia during the next 30 years, up to 2030. Swiss officials stipulate that this nuclear waste will either remain in Russia and/or could be reprocessed in order to yield plutonium which would be returned to Switzerland while the nuclear waste generated by the reprocessing would remain in Russia.

The Swiss side also requests that Russia accept storage of up to 550 cubic meters of radioactive nuclear waste due to be returned to Switzerland from France and Britain between 1999 and 2010 as part of plutonium reprocessing contracts signed between the Swiss utilities and the French state-controlled plutonium company COGEMA, and UK equivalent BNFL.

Following on the Russian side’s statement that Russian Federation law must be “…amended accordingly or special decisions are taken on a governmental level”, it is agreed that “The parties have come to an understanding that strict confidentiality must be ensured for the current and future negotiations, with respect for both the fact of such negotiations and the preliminary agreements reached by the Parties.”

“An agreement containing these terms would be illegal under current Russian law, and the negotiating Parties even state this in their Protocol,” said Sergey Tsyplenkov, Executive Director of Greenpeace Russia. “We believe that the Russian Duma and the Government should intervene to stop these negotiations and take all steps necessary to ban waste dumping and further plutonium reprocessing in Russia.”

Copies of the leaked documents (2 pages) can be obtained from the Greenpeace International Website, by following the links below

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