Nuclear dilemma

 作者:尤淀诛     |      日期:2019-03-08 05:18:04
By Bronwyn McLaren in Moscow RUSSIA could soon be reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from countries outside the former communist bloc. The controversial move, which will involve a change in Russian law and will be debated by the country’s parliament this month, would result in Russia competing with Britain and France for lucrative reprocessing contracts from around the world. Because of safety concerns, Russia’s nuclear laws restrict it to storing and treating waste from the former Soviet states or from countries such as Bulgaria and Hungary with whom it has contracts dating back to the Soviet era. The new amendment, drawn up by the atomic energy ministry, would allow spent fuel from anywhere to be stored for long periods before being returned to its country of origin, according to Vladislav Petrov, spokesman for the atomic energy ministry. But the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is still fresh in Russian minds and any amendments to the law that would lead to the handling and transportation of more nuclear material are likely to be fiercely opposed. A national opinion poll carried out by a presidential commission in December found that 33 per cent of Russians believe that the government is failing to protect them from dangerous pollutants such as radioactive waste. Atomic energy minister Yevgeny Adamov claims that any profits from the reprocessing and storage of foreign waste would go towards tackling pollution and improving safety at nuclear plants. At a recent meeting with environmentalists, Adamov was quoted as saying that he would be setting the price for foreign reprocessing at $1000 per kilogram, excluding transportation. This is significantly less than that charged by French and British firms. However, environmentalists are sceptical of his claims that the money will be used to fight pollution. They say any profits are more likely to go towards expanding Russia’s reprocessing capabilities, such as completing the RT-2 reprocessing plant in the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. Work on the plant, which would treat waste from VVER-1000 light water reactors, has been suspended since 1989 due to lack of funds. There are also concerns that accepting foreign waste will only add to the backlog of untreated material that has built up at Russia’s reprocessing plants. At Krasnoyarsk, for example, 3400 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from VVER-1000 reactors are stored in water reservoirs. Vitaly Kizhnyak, an activist based in Krasnoyarsk, describes the ministry’s plans to change the law to allow the import of foreign waste as “an ecological crime”. Adamov is already struggling to convince the governor of Krasnoyarsk, Alexandr Lebed, to continue accepting waste shipments from Ukraine. Lebed claims that at $258 per kilogram, Ukraine is paying too little for reprocessing. The atomic energy ministry denies that there are plans to use foreign income to complete the RT-2, and says opposing the new law would ensure that Russia remains an “atomic dump”. Without the income from foreign contracts, there will be no money to clean up the country’s nuclear pollution. Russia, he maintains,