May 2003

Russia to Import Nuclear Waste From Bulgaria, Ecologists Say

Bloomberg, Moscow,16 May 2003

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Bulgarian official confirms plans to return waste nuclear fuel rods to Russia

Bulgarian News Network, Sofia, 16 May 2003

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[Posted 21/05/2003]

Russia to Import Nuclear Waste From Bulgaria, Ecologists Say

Russia plans to import 20 tons of Bulgarian nuclear waste in early June under a $12.5 million contract, said Ecodefense, a Russian environmental group. Russia's Nuclear Energy Ministry expects to get permission in late May to import the waste from Bulgaria's Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant and to ship it across Moldova and Ukraine, Ecodefense said in an e-mailed statement.

``This is our contract obligation, to take back spent nuclear fuel from Soviet-built nuclear power plants,'' Nikolay Shingaryov, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a telephone interview. ``This will be the first but not the last shipment from Bulgaria this year.''

In 2001, Russia passed a law allowing it to import nuclear waste to store and process back into fuel for power stations. Environmental activists, some political parties and the population of regions contaminated by radiation, such as Chelyabinsk, protested the law.

Russia also plans to import nuclear waste from Hungary and may also take it from South Korea. It's already received shipments from Ukraine this year.

``In addition to a danger of a possible accident during nuclear-waste transportation, there is also a probability that trains with the spent nuclear fuel can be a target for a terrorist attack or thief,'' Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of Ecodefense, said in the statement.

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Bulgarian official confirms plans to return waste nuclear fuel rods to Russia

A Bulgarian official on Friday confirmed a report that his country was negotiating to return 20 metric tons (22 U.S. tons) of exhausted nuclear fuel rods for recycling in Russia.

Russian quoted environmental group Ekozashtita (Ecoprotection) as urging the Russian government to scrap the $12.5 million deal.

Bulgaria would pay some $130,000 of transportation expenses to return the waste fuel rods from its only nuclear power plant in Kozlodui for recycling in the Mayak plant in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, the report said.

“The return of the waste nuclear fuel is in a process of licensing,” Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian Agency on Nuclear Regulation Borislav Stanimirov told the BNN in a telephone interview.

Stanimirov dismissed Ekozashtita claims that processing Bulgarian nuclear waste in Russia was “economically unprofitable, environmentally dangerous and illegal.”

“Bulgaria obviously has Russia’s consent to return that fuel,” Stanimirov told the BNN. He added a series of licenses was still needed to start the transportation of the rods.

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