Nordic nations protest about UK’s radioactive emissions and reaffirm emissions trading commitment

Environment ministers from North European countries and autonomous regions have written a joint letter of complaint to the British Prime Minister concerning radioactive emissions from the Sellafield reactor and the same nations recommitted to establishing a Baltic Sea trading scheme for emissions.

Meeting in Ivalo in northern Finland on 21 August, environment ministers from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the autonomous territories of Greenland, Faroe Islands and Åland expressed their worry in a joint letter to British PM, Tony Blair, over reports that technetium 99 has been found as far north as the Kola peninsula, the Barents Sea and Svalbard.

“The emissions from Sellafield are no longer just a threat to the environment in the North Sea but also for the extremely vulnerable environment in the Barents,” Norwegian minister for environmental protection Siri Bjerke said of the substance which takes thousands of years to biodegrade and may cause biological damage in the long term. The radioactive material is carried by the sea currents and originates from the British nuclear processing plant Sellafield, which had concerned the Norwegian environmental authorities for years.

Another important discussion at the meeting of Nordic environment ministers was environmental co-operation with Russia. The ministers, who also visited Murmansk in northern Russia, expressed grave concern about Russian plans to import nuclear waste (see related story).

In the same week, the Nordic Council, which represents the five nations and Danish and Finnish territories said it was going ahead with a pilot project for trading in environmental quotas in the Baltic region (see related story), the world’s first such pilot project. “At the Nordic Council’s extra session in June, we recommended to the Nordic governments that they promote the introduction of green accounts for energy, establish a price-fixing system for green taxes and duties levied on electricity production and set up a project to test the Kyoto mechanisms in the Baltic region,” commented the President of the Nordic Council, Svend Erik Hovmand. “The Baltic environment and energy ministers supported the proposals, so does the EU environment commissioner and the Nordic Investment Bank is now setting up an ‘environmental bourse’ for trading emission quotas in the region.”

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