Russia’s nuclear expansion plans cause alarm

Russia wants to build up to four nuclear reactors a year as it replaces aging nuclear power stations, the head of the country's nuclear energy agency Rosatom has said.

Responding to president Vladimir Putin’s call to bring the share of nuclear in Russia’s energy production up from 16 to 25%, Sergei Kiriyenko said that two or more reactors would be built from 2007, then four annually in 2009 and 2010.

Russia currently has 35 reactors at its 10 nuclear power stations.

“The share of nuclear power in the country’s energy balance is 16%, and if the condition of the sector remains in the shape we know it is in, then in several years that share could fall by 2030 to 1-2%,” president Putin told Rosatom officials.

Sergei Kiriyenko recently called for 40 new power units to be built, starting from 2007. With his latest comments, Vladimir Putin indicated his backing for these expansion plans.

Environmental organisations from around the world expressed alarm at Russia’s nuclear plans.

“The public is very much concerned with the new initiatives of such countries as Russia, US and Great Britain to develop nuclear industry,” said Alexander Nikitin of Norwegian-based NGO Bellona.

“We believe that so called nuclear renaissance is a very bad thing for both US and for the world,” said Susan Gordon of US Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Jay Coglan, head of Nuclear Watch in New Mexico, said: “I think it has much to do with corporate structure. They are big corporations that want to make a profit.

“My opinion is that energy supply should be regionally based. If we put the same effort to renewable energy that we put in nuclear energy we would not need nuclear energy and we would not have nuclear waste.”

Goska Romanowicz

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