Activists Protesting Russian Waste Imports Disrupt Nuclear Meeting

DRESDEN, Germany, May 16, 2001 (ENS) - The opening day of the Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology 2001 at the Kulturpalast in Dresden was disrupted Tuesday by several hundred German and Russian anti-nuclear activists protesting Russian plans to import nuclear waste. The protests of the three day meeting are continuing today.

Nuclear power in Russia tops the list of topics being discussed at the meeting which is organized by the German Atomic Forum in collaboration with the German Nuclear Technology Society. The annual event attract the international nuclear industry including German, Russian, British, French and other companies.


Nuclear Technology 2001 delegates are gathered at Dresden's Kulturpalast. (Photo courtesy Kulturpalast)
Protests, organized by the Russian anti-nuclear organization EcoDefense!, Greenpeace Germany and the German group Anti-Atom Network of Saxony, were targeted at disrupting the opening of the meeting. Activists believe closed door negotiations aimed at the dumping of international nuclear waste in Russia will be taking place here.

Several activists climbed the roof of the Kulturpalast to display banners reading, "No nuclear waste to Russia!" and "Conference of nuclear mafia." Others blocked doors of the Palace making what the activists called "a noisy drums party" to greet arriving nuclear officials.

In the evening, about 50 activists disrupted the cultural tour through Dresden offered to the participants of Nuclear Technology 2001 by organizers. The tour was cancelled shortly after it began, and participants were advised to return to their hotel.

Russia will build six new nuclear power units by 2010, Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Yurievich Rumyantsev announced Tuesday at a roundtable debate on energy industry problems in the Russian parliament, known as the State Duma.

A group of officials from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom) attended the Dresden meeting hoping to conclude agreements on the commercial import of nuclear waste to Russia. According to Minatom statements, the agency believes Russia can make up to US$20 billion by importing nuclear waste during next decade.

The Duma has not yet passed the final resolution needed to change Russian law to allow the import of nuclear waste, but two preliminary resolutions have been approved by the deputies.


German protesters gather Tuesday at the rail line on which the Castor casks containing spent nuclear fuel are traveling to France. (Photo courtesy Indymedia Germany)
A parallel demonstration is taking place in Germany against the transport of spent nuclear fuel from German nuclear reactors to Cogema, the French state owned nuclear reprocessing facility at La Hague. The transports started again this year after a three year pause due to safety concerns.

"There will be a strong resistance across the country if German companies want to dump their waste in Russia," said Carsten Enders of EcoDefense! Dresden at a press conference today. "Germany should not solve its waste problems this way, with the help of Russia. Protests will be continued until nuclear officials leave the city."

"Minatom must understand it's better to give up plans to import nuclear waste from Germany or any other country," said Vladimir Slivyak, council member for EcoDefense! in Russia. "Making an international dump site for nuclear waste in Russia is a crime against the nature and next generations of Russians and may result in new accidents larger than Chernobyl," Slivyak warned.