World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Illegal nuclear waste shipment blocked in France

Illegal nuclear waste shipment blocked

International — In a daring 2AM action, twenty Greenpeace activists have blocked the loading of illegal nuclear waste in France.

A Russian freighter, the Kapitan Kuroptche, was preparing to transport more than 450 tons of radioactive uranium waste to Russia when the activists blocked cranes on the ship and the pier. The waste originated from the Pierlatte uranium enrichment plant in the Rhone Valley. It's part of a thirty-year-old practice of dumping nuclear wastes produced in Europe in Russia, where federal law prohibits the import of foreign waste.

We're just putting it there for now: honest!

France claims the waste is going to Russia for reprocessing -- the process by which plutonium is separated from spent fuel -- but in fact only a small portion is treated. In reality, it's simply being put out of sight, out of mind, with no long-term solution for what to do with it on the horizon. Greenpeace has filed a case in the Moscow district court against the Russian government nuclear export company, Tecksnabexport. The nuclear industry would prefer these shipments happened in secret, as they underscore a key reason why nuclear fuel is not a viable energy solution, and why nuclear power is not a solution to climate change.

Vulnerable to attack, dangerously shipped

But in addition to being illegal, the shipments are also highly dangerous. Shipments between west European ports are regularly transitting through the North Sea, Skagarak, the Baltic and the Gulf of Finland before arriving at St Petersburg. The shipments are made on general Russian-owned cargo vessels rather than purpose-built ships, despite known hazards and risks. The transportation route goes through major cities such as St Petersburg (5 million population) and Tomsk (0.5 million) and passes the coasts of Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Finland. An accidental release or terrorist attack could be devastating.

A new report from Greenpeace, "Europe's Radioactive Secret", details the illegal nuclear waste trade between Europe's nuclear industry and the Russian Federation.

The nuclear wastes concerned are of two types: contaminated uranium resulting from reprocessing at the Cogema/Areva facilities at la Hague, Normandy; and depleted uranium (DU) from nuclear fuel enrichment at facilities in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. These facilities support the day-to-day operation of Europe's 135 nuclear reactors.

The containers used to transport the uranium waste do not meet current International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards and pose a serious risk during the thousands of kilometres journey to the Russian dump sites, where they are illegally stored or disposed. A large percentage of the waste is in the form of hexafluoride crystals which can react violently to water leading to dispersal of toxic gas, inhalation of which can be fatal.

The world urgently needs to shift its energy supply to clean, safe, renewable energy. Delegates meeting in Montreal to discuss the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol need to remember that nuclear power is not an answer.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Climate: UN Chief Lauds ‘day Of Hope’ As US Officially Rejoins Paris Climate Accord

The official return of the United States to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change represents good news for the country and the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday during a virtual event to mark the occasion. The US, under ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>