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Greenpeace Calls For Recovery Of Kursk

Greenpeace Calls For Recovery Of Kursk Nuclear Submarine And A Halt To The Use Of Nuclear Powered Vessels At Sea

LONDON, August 22, 2000 --Greenpeace today urged Russia and the international community to spare no effort in recovering the sunken Russian submarine Kursk in order to
radioactivity from its two nuclear reactors into the Barents Sea. Greenpeace also called on all countries operating nuclear powered vessels to withdraw them from service because of the inherent risks posed by the technology.

“If the Kursk is left on the sea-bed it is not a matter of if, but when the reactors will leak nuclear material into the Barents Sea. The Kursk is a ticking environmental time bomb that must be made safe”, said William Peden, Greenpeace International Disarmament Campaigner.

Greenpeace considers that a recovery of the entire submarine is the best way to ensure that the marine environment is protected. Only if this proves to be unfeasible owing to structural weaknesses of the submarine or damage to the reactors should other options be considered. These include cutting the reactor compartment out of the submarine and bringing it on land or, as a last resort, entombing the submarine in order to minimise the risk of any nuclear material escaping into the Barents Sea.

“To do nothing is not an option,” said Peden. “No effort should be spared in minimising the risk of nuclear contamination in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. Never before has a nuclear submarine sunk at such a shallow depth in one of the world’s richest marine environments and crucial fishing areas,” he added.

The Kursk is the latest of many accident involving nuclear powered submarines and there are now ten nuclear reactors and over fifty nuclear warheads scattered on the ocean floor, mostly hundreds of metres under water. Only three months ago there was an incident on the UK’s HMS Tireless which is now in Gibralter amidst bitter disputes as to where and how it should be repaired.

“Incidents and accidents involving nuclear powered vessels occur frequently. The Kursk tragedy highlights the fact there is no such thing as a safe nuclear submarine,” said Peden. “While these submarines prowl the oceans there will always be a risk of a nuclear accident – the only way to eliminate the threat is to withdraw the vessels from service,” he added.

For further information contact:

William Peden, Greenpeace nuclear disarmament campaigner in Washington: +1 2022859130 or +44 7801212992 TobiasMunchmeyer, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner: +493044058960 MatildaBradshaw, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 6 53504701

Photos of past Greenpeace protests against nuclear powered submarines are available from the Greenpeace International press desk on request


James Williams Greenpeace International (Press Office) 176 Keizersgracht 1016 DW Amsterdam Netherlands. Phone: ++ 31 (20) 5249 515 Fax: ++ 31 20 523 6212

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