29 Feb 2024, 13:46
Jennifer Collins

NGOs warn against production of Russian-designed nuclear fuel rods in Germany

Clean Energy Wire / t-online

Environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) called on German authorities to reject an application to allow the production of Russian-designed nuclear fuel rods in a factory in Lingen, Lower Saxony. Greenlighting modifications of the plant to construct the rods would amount to the "co-financing of the Russian war machine" and undermines Germany's nuclear phase-out, said the group. The Lingen plant is operated by Advanced Nuclear Fuels (ANF), a subsidiary of French nuclear power company Framatome, reported t-online. ANF plans to modify the factory to produce fuel rods for Eastern European power plants of Soviet design through a joint venture of Framatome and Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom.

While that means states would no longer be buying directly from Russia, fuel rods would "be produced in Germany with the help of Russia and Rosatom," said BUND and described the country and company as lacking in credibility as partners and in nuclear safety. "Among other things, Rosatom has technically enabled the dangerous occupation of Ukrainian nuclear facilities such as the one in Zaporizhzhia. Instead of continuing dubious partnerships, the EU must finally impose sanctions against the Russian nuclear sector," said BUND chairman, Olaf Bandt.

Lower Saxony's environment ministry is examining the application, wrote t-online. While the minister, the Green Party's Christian Meyer, was in opposition, a spokesperson told the outlet that it was not about personal opinions, and the application would be assessed as required. BUND said Framatome's application documents were incomplete and that the extent of Rosatom cooperation in Lingen is unclear. "Furthermore, the plant, which is already 45 years old and has numerous reportable incidents and defects, must finally be closed," said Susanne Gerstner, chairwoman of BUND in Lower Saxony. Just six months after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the Lingen fuel rod factory received a delivery of Russian uranium. Uranium is used to produce the fuel rods used in nuclear power plants. Nuclear power advocates say the technology can help Europe become more independent from Russia, arguing it provides a reliable low-emission source of energy that can support renewable power supply.

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