19 Nov 2019, 13:48
Benjamin Wehrmann

Anti-nuclear activists protest against waste transports from Germany to Russia

Clean Energy Wire

A group of anti-nuclear activists have protested against the transport of depleted uranium from a fuel rod production plant in Germany to Russia, saying that the British-Dutch-German group Urenco was trying to "cheaply dispose" of the unwanted radioactive waste. Activist group contrAtom said the uranium hexafluoride from the Urenco plant in the western German city of Gronau would be stored "in the open and in rusty barrels, causing people in the vicinity to suffer from cancer”. In Germany, the group abseiled from a bridge over the train tracks on which the waste material, which Urenco reportedly declared as "recyclable material", was transported wielding banners written in German and Russian expressing opposition to the exports. The group said it would continue with similar protests until the fuel rod plant in Gronau was closed.
Environmental NGO Greenpeace Russia said they had already protested against the exports the previous day in front of the Gronau fuel rod plant. The NGO said about 1 million tonnes of depleted uranium had already piled up in Russia and provided links to satellite image service Google Earth that it said showed open-air storages in the country.

According to media reports from October, the nuclear waste exports to Russia started again after a 10-year hiatus and up to 12,000 tonnes of depleted uranium would await export to the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg, which critics have said serves as a "cheap dump" for the material. The "World Nuclear Waste Report", published in early November by the German Green Party-affiliated Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, said no country in the world had yet found a solution for the nuclear waste challenge and that future storage costs for taxpayers were vastly underestimated. Germany is set to close its last nuclear power plant in 2022 and plans to have found a location for a final repository within its own borders by 2031, with construction projected to be finished by the end of the century.

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