Nuclear waste cargo leaves Germany for Russia

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A cargo of 600 tonnes of depleted uranium has left a nuclear gasoline plant in Germany sure for Russia, a Russian environmentalist group says.

Twelve rail vehicles left the Urenco plant within the city of Gronau, near the Dutch border, on Monday 22 June, based on the Ecodefense group.

The waste will reportedly be moved by sea and rail to a plant within the Urals.

Urenco informed the BBC its uranium could be additional enriched in Russia and the method met environmental requirements.

However environmental activists have lengthy been involved that Russia could grow to be a “dumping floor” for radioactive waste from energy vegetation.

Greenpeace protested final yr after German media reviews that Urenco had resumed delivery depleted uranium from Germany to Russia after a spot of 10 years. Russia had halted the follow in 2009 underneath stress from environmentalists.

On Monday activists in Germany posted video on social media of what seemed to be the practice en route from Gronau, in addition to images of anti-nuclear protesters.

Why is the waste being despatched to Russia?

According to the report (in Russian) by Ecodefense, among the waste will probably be shipped by sea to Russia by way of the port of Amsterdam.

It should, the group says, ultimately arrive on the Ural Electrochemical Mix in Novouralsk, 3,400km (2,500 miles) away in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

The group believes that almost 3,000 tonnes of depleted uranium have already been shipped from Germany to Russia this yr.

The Urenco spokesperson contacted by the BBC mentioned they may not give particulars of shipments for “security and safety causes”.

However Urenco did affirm that it had a contract with a agency referred to as Tradewill, a subsidiary of Tenex which is the abroad commerce firm of Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic power company.

Below the contract, it mentioned, depleted uranium “tails” are despatched to Russia for additional processing. The enriched uranium product then returns to Urenco whereas the “depleted fraction” stays with Tenex.

“That is widespread and authorized follow,” Urenco says. “We additionally retain depleted uranium at Urenco in Europe.”

Urenco, which is a partnership between German, British and Dutch corporations, mentioned its representatives had inspected the amenities concerned within the course of and had discovered that they complied with “all internationally recognised logistics requirements, which incorporates dealing with, storage, safeguarding and processing of nuclear materials, in addition to applicable environmental requirements”.

Why are environmentalists so involved?

One of many large questions is how a lot of the waste is ultimately returned to Germany, with activists arguing that almost all of it stays in Russia.

There are additionally fears of poisonous air pollution within the occasion of any spill.

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Media captionThe towers have been blown up on Thursday morning

On 15 June, a petition to stop the shipments was sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was signed by environmental teams and activists from Russia, Germany and the Netherlands.

The petition requires an finish to the “colonial coverage of transferring hazardous cargoes from Europe to Russia’s Siberian and Ural areas”.

It argues that Germany has the expertise to take care of its personal nuclear waste and ends with the phrases, “Russia is just not a dumping floor!”

Greenpeace argued final yr that Russia lacked a plan to utilise depleted uranium on a big scale. The accusation was rejected by Tenex which told Russian media it was “absolutely inconsistent with reality”.

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