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Explosion at Leningrad–due to bad management

Explosion at Leningrad–due to bad management, says Greenpeace

St.Petersburg. 16 December 2005—Greenpeace today stated that bad management and the use of obsolete equipment are to be blamed for the explosion in the smelting furnace of Ekomet-C Nuclear Power Plant last night. Three persons were seriously injured last night as a result of the blast in the smelting furnace of the Chernobyl-type RBMK reactor - in Sosnovyj Bor near St. Petersburg at the Baltic Sea.

”This is yet another clear and potentially fatal example of why Nuclear energy is not the answer to energy needs in Russia or anywhere else,” said Jan vande Putte, of Greenpeace International. “It is painfully clear that bad management and lack of common sense is to blame for this atrocity. Governments cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this situation. The only way to go is clean energy and renewables.”

Ecomet-C is a private company working in the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP), processing radioactive contaminated metal from the LNPP and other reactors in Russia. For more than three years the company has been illegally processing this waste, without passing the state environmental impact assessment. (SEIA). The recycling of radioactive contaminated metal has serious risks for public health, as such metals might end up in household products.

Eighteen months ago Greenpeace filed a suit to the Prosecutor’s office in Sosnovy Bor demanding a suspension of the illegal activities. However the deputy prosecutor Miklina, having admitted there was no SEIA, responded that “no grounds were found to initiate legal proceedings”.

The explosion at the site took place at some 500 metres from the storage of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. Any serious damage to such storage could release more radioactivity than the Chernobyl accident in 1986. “Having a large-scale commercial industry located so close to this sensitive storage is highly irresponsible,” added Vande Putte.

The Leningrad plant holds 4 reactors of the so-called Chernobyl-type (RBMK). The Russian utility Rosenergoatom who operates the reactors intends to extend the lifetimes of reactors that are reaching more than 30 years of age and build a new electricity grid to export electricity to Finland. "This accident again illustrates that the nuclear reactors at Leningrad NPP are operated in a totally irresponsible way" said Vladimir Tchuprov of Greenpeace Russia. "Instead of exporting high-risk electricity to Finland, they should be shut down at once."

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