Russia beset with protests over new nuclear waste imports
Russia has now removed all existing barriers to the import of nuclear waste, and consequently faces a storm of protest from the general public.
On 18 October, the State Duma passed a set of amendments which lift all remaining barriers to the import of nuclear waste materials for processing and storage, ignoring opinion polls which revealed that 90% of voters are against such a move. The Russian parliament originally voted to allow the import of waste in June (see related story).
Following the passing of the new amendments, the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry (Minatom) has sent a train to Bulgaria to collect spent nuclear fuel from the Kozloduy power station. The result has been protest in eight cities along the Trans Siberian railway, on 24 October, amid fears over possible terrorist attacks, and the environmental threat that the material poses.
According to the news service Glasnost, the amendments which have lifted the barriers to nuclear waste import were proposed by Duma Deputy Robert Nigmatulin, the brother of Bulat Nigmatulin, Deputy Minister of the Atomic Energy Ministry.
There have also been fears in Kazakhstan that the republic could become the dumping ground for Russia’s nuclear waste, with politicians actively discussing changes to the law to allow the import of nuclear waste. The country’s nuclear industry is claiming that it can earn up to $40 billion from waste imports, which could then be used to improve the socio-economic situation in the country.