Russia turns into international nuclear waste dump. Does it want to destroy itself?
By Lyubov Yu. Moskvina
Most probably, Russia can be destroyed for a token fee... Since the application of nuclear energy started, the number of casualties has increased manyfold, and the number of accidents has increased, too. Putting the obvious economic benefits of nuclear energy on one scale, and the no less obvious danger – on the other, the advantage is almost always on the side of the first.
Today, 440 units are operated at the world's nuclear power plants, and most countries are not going to turn off their nuclear program in the near future. But let's not forget that, apart from the much-needed electricity for humanity, nuclear power plants also produce radioactive nuclear waste ...
In 2001, Russia passed a law allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) to the country. As a result, even now we have got more than 400 storage sites of various nuclear materials.
At present, Russia is the only country in the world that receives depleted uranium hexafluoride from abroad on an industrial scale. "It is too expensive to keep radioactive materials with half-life periods of 24 thousand years in the territory of a [normal, i.e. developed] country, that's why life-threatening cargo is transported to Russia", experts explain. It's stunning, but Russia is glad to cooperate! By buying uranium from foreigners at a price of 60 cents per kilo, Russia hopes to get rich. Well, the fact that 53 new cases of cancer (caused by nuclear plants) are recorded in the country every hour is not important, after all ...
Even during the lobbying of bills to allow the import of SNF to Russia in the State Duma, nuclear engineers have promised to earn $20 billion for the country over the period of 10 years. One part of that money should go to the State, the other – to the purses of Russians. Thus, every citizen was promised a "reward for risk in the amount of 1.5 dollar per year for a period of 10 years". However, the government kept silent about how much money would be spent on treatment of probable diseases to emerge.
Scientific studies have long proved that even well-isolated nuclear waste subjects the environment to adverse affect and can cause irreparable harm to the health and heredity of people.
But despite this, in the near future Russia is to receive another batch of nuclear waste from abroad. We are talking about returning the fuel from the three old reactors that were built in East Germany by the Soviet Union and stopped in the 1990s back to the country. The cargo will consist of 951 fuel rods from a nuclear reactor at the Rossendorf Research Center. Three boats, each of which is designed for six special containers, will be allegedly used for the transportation of dangerous goods.
The waterway was chosen not incidentally: sailing across the Baltic Sea, the transporter will avoid transit through Poland, Belarus and make itself safe from dangerous situations on the railroad.
The nuclear waste is most likely to be driven to Mayak in Chelyabinsk region, the only processing plant in Russia. Its territory, after the accident of 1957, is still considered a most polluted place on the planet, and local population still lives on its radioactively contaminated plots.
In the city where Mayak is located, the incidence of cancer is 20 per cent higher than in the country. And not only ordinary residents, but the plant managers too die of the disease. To date, 70 percent of Ozersky's residents and employees of the Mayak plant are people with mental disabilities, and the level of drug addiction there is 5 times higher than in the whole region
The constant discharge of nuclear waste into the water, air and land in the city of Ozersky is called "routine release", whereas there is only one consequence for the local residents – exposure and cancer.
Currently, alas, not too many people think about the consequences of "foreign purchases". It is therefore necessary to draw the world public attention to this problem as soon as possible. Otherwise, you know, it will not take long before Russia finally turns into an international nuclear waste dump.