From: Associated Press
Published October 28, 2004 12:00 AM

Russian Environmentalists Call on Hungary to Scrap Plans to Send Spent Nuclear Fuel to Russia

MOSCOW — Russian environmental groups called on the Hungarian government Wednesday to scrap plans to export spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing.

A letter of protest signed by more than 5,000 people in the Ural Mountains region of Chelyabinsk was sent to Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, asking him to not send used fuel to Russia, Vladimir Slivyak of the group EcoDefense said in a statement.

"Solving the problem of your own (nuclear) waste at the cost of lives of Russian people is a cynical policy, which, we hope, will be avoided by the new Hungarian government," Slivyak said.

Hungary imports fuel for its Paks nuclear power plant — the country's only plant — but does not have facilities for the long-term storage of spent fuel.

In 2003, Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy called for accelerating negotiations on delivering Russian nuclear fuel to Hungary and returning 1,500 metric tons (1,650 tons) of spent fuel to Russia's Mayak facility in Chelyabinsk.

Last year, the Mayak facility was ordered to make improvements to prevent liquid radioactive waste stored in closed reservoirs from leaking into surrounding rivers.

Environmentalists say a 2001 law signed by Putin allowing for the widespread import of spent nuclear fuel will turn Russia into a nuclear dumping ground.

Source: Associated Press

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