Greenpeace And Russian Villagers Deliver Radioactive Soil To Duma In Call For An End To Government Plans To Import Thousands Of Tons Of Radioactive Waste
Moscow, Oct 9, 2000 - Greenpeace activists and villagers from Russia's Chelyabinsk region, 2,500km east of Moscow in the Ural Mountains, today delivered radioactive soil from gardens and farms around the giant Mayak nuclear site to the steps of the Duma. Greenpeace is calling on the parliament to reject a request from the Atomic Ministry (Minatom) to revoke the country's law banning the import of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.
The ten activists unfurled a banner stating "Russia doesn't want foreign nuclear waste" as the four villagers (two men - Gosman Kabirov, 43, Yanahetdin Sharafutdinov, 48 and two women: Galia Gatiatulina, 46, and Gafia Carimova, 52) poured the radioactive soil from containers into a barrel on the steps of the parliament building. One of the Greenpeace activists took a Geiger counter reading of the soil in the barrel which revealed it was 5 MicroSievert or about 30 times background or normal levels.
"We are already living on a nuclear waste dump which is giving us cancers. It's crazy to send even more nuclear waste to Mayak," said Gosman Kabirov, a former resident of Muslyumovo, one of the most radioactively contaminated villages around Mayak.
The Greenpeace protest is part of a campaign calling for a national referendum on radioactive waste imports and dumping in Russia. Under the Russian Constitution, if an 'Initiative Group' collects 2 million signatures the President must call a national referendum.
Since July 26th, eight environmental organisations -- Greenpeace Russia, World Wildlife Fund, Social-Ecological Union, Centre for Wildlife Protection, Ecological Guard of Sakhalin, Baikal Wave, Committee for the Rescue of the river Pechora, Ecological Center "Dront" -- have collected over 2 million signatures. The groups plan to collect 2.5 million signatures by the October 25th, the deadline for submission to the authorities, allowing for up to 20% of the signatures to be discounted on the grounds of minor technicalities.
"The extraordinary feat of collecting over 2 million signatures sends a clear signal to the parliament to reject the Minatom backed move to change Russia's Environment Law. This is clearly an issue on which the Russian people feel strongly and the parliamentarians would be fool hardy to ignore it," Igor Forofontov, of Greenpeace Russia.
If the Duma accepts the proposals submitted at the end of last month by Minatom to over turn the import ban, Russia could become the world's nuclear waste dump. According to a Minatom document, released by Greenpeace earlier this year, some $21 billion would be generated by importing 20,000t of spent nuclear fuel for "reprocessing", "storage" or "disposal". Minatom has identified Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Iran, Thailand, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Yugoslavia as potential customer countries.
In an attempt to justify the imports, Minatom claims that part of the revenue would be used for environmental clean up projects at some of the country's worst contaminated nuclear sites. However, any revenue would almost certainly be used to expand the country's nuclear reprocessing and fast breeder reactor programmes.
"The idea that the deadly radioactive legacy of Russia's disastrous nuclear programme can be cleaned up by bringing even more nuclear waste into the country is clearly ludicrous. The last thing Russia needs is more radioactive waste or an expansion of its nuclear industry," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International.
Mayak, the world's largest and most contaminated nuclear complex, in the Urals, is emerging as the front runner to play host to the world's radioactive waste. However, its history is one of radioactive contamination and public health scandals. According to a 1992 Russian Health Ministry report 28,000 people in the surrounding area have been "severely irradiated" by discharges from Mayak. Of those 8,015 have died as a result of radiation exposure and a further 935 are suffering from chronic radiation disease (CRD). The report also details a 78% increase in leukaemia and an increase in the number of people dying of other cancers - skin, lung and digestive system. Further, it records that 83.6% of Mayak's 1,828 workers in the 1950's have been afflicted by CRD.
Commissioner of the US Nuclear Regulator Commission (NRC), Greta Joy Dicus, stated in 1998:"As a result of early operational practices and some accidents at Mayak, workers at the plant and populations around the site were exposed to unusually large amounts of radiation and radioactive materials. In many cases, the doses were comparable to those received by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Townsley in Moscow on +31-621296918, or Jon Walter in Moscow on +31- 653504731. Or visit http://www.greenpeace.org
+++++++++++++++++++++ BIOGRAPHIES OF VILLAGERS INVOLVED:
Gosman Kabirov –43 years, was born in 1957 in Muslumovo village, since 1982 he has been living in Chelyabinsk. He is the 4-th child in the family of 11 children. Gosman has chronic radiation sickness. His brother and two cousins also have radiation sickness. He is the head of the public ecological organization "Techya" and works as the teacher in an industrial college. His wife – Milya Kabirova is the leader of the group of women who suffer from the radiation sickness and who have children with genetic mutations. Her father died from the blood cancer at the age of 42, her mother was a supervisor on Techya river and also died from the blood cancer. Her elder brother died from the stomach cancer, one sister has chronic radiation sickness, her younger sister suffers from chronic asthma and thyroid gland damage, a younger brother has a radiation sickness.
Galia Gatiatulina – 46 years – is part of the Government classified 2-nd group which receives compensation for health problems, she has chronic asthma and thyroid gland injury. She was a supervisor on the Techya river.
Yanahetdin Sharafutdinov – 48 years -. He is the teacher at Muslumovo school. He lives on the territory contaminated by radiation. His wife suffers from chronic asthma. The parents of his wife have chronic radiation sickness, her brother has chronic oesophagus (gullet) disease. Three of his children suffer from polyarthritis.
Gafia Karimova – 52 years -- was evacuated ‘with her house’ in the contaminated territory in 1952. In October 1999 the ground was found with 650 Msv radiation on the roof of her house, which was moved from the contaminated zone. She has been living in the house for 44 years. She has thyroid gland damage. end
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