October 16, 2021

Activists slam French uranium going to Russian dump

At the same time as president Emmanuel Macron is reigniting French nuclear plans amid surging fuel costs, activists from Greenpeace have protested in opposition to French uranium exports to Russia

Protesters blocked the doorway of nuclear agency Orano’s HQ in Châtillon, a suburb of Paris, on Tuesday (12 October) utilizing bogus nuclear-waste drums and waving “Russia is not a nuclear dump” banners.

  • The uranium is transported to Seversk the place it’s supposed to be recycled for re-use in France, however Greenpeace says the fabric shall be dumped there “indefinitely” (Photograph: Wikipedia)

The bulk French state-owned agency earlier this 12 months exported 1,000 tonnes of reprocessed uranium to Siberia, in accordance to a report printed by the Greenpeace NGO.

It did so after having earlier discontinued the exports in 2010 due to public strain

And Orano admitted the brand new shipments.

The Greenpeace report detailed that on 20 January and 12 February, two shipments of reprocessed Uranium left the French harbour in Le Havre in a Russian ship named Kapitan Lomonosov certain for St. Petersburg.

The uranium was then transported to Seversk, a closed-off metropolis in Siberia with a number of nuclear reactors and a big uranium-enrichment facility, the place it’s supposed to be recycled and re-enriched for re-use in France or Russia.

EDF, France’s greatest nuclear energy firm, has not restarted shipments but, however it additionally entered a tentative settlement with Tenex in 2018, a subsidiary of Russian agency Rosatom, to recycle uranium on the similar web site.

“Russia doesn’t need reprocessed uranium from France,” Cécile Génot from Greenpeace France informed EUobserver, citing Russia’s giant present uranium reserves, that are less expensive.

This was confirmed by Ecodefense, a Russian environmental company.

“When it comes to the import of uranium tails to Russia from Germany and other European countries, at least 90 percent of these wastes remains in Russia forever,” Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for Ecodefense, informed EUobserver.

“To rid themselves of some of this cumbersome waste, they [Orano] have chosen to resume the sale,” Génot added.

Though Greenpeace has not been ready to verify this, Génot mentioned that the French nuclear firms would in all probability purchase “expensive uranium” in return.

In the meantime, the exported uranium shall be saved as nuclear waste at Seversk “indefinitely”, Génot added.

The storage web site in Seversk is closed off to outsiders, however Greenpeace used satellite tv for pc imagery to decide the uranium was being “stored [in drums] out in the open, without any protective measures to slow their degradation.”

Each EDF and Orano in 2010 halted exports to Seversk due to public strain and environmental causes, citing an “unsatisfactory effluent treatment process.”

The report follows a name by 10 EU ministers, spearheaded by France, to embody nuclear vitality within the EU’s pointers for inexperienced investments – the “EU taxonomy.”

Macron can also be anticipated to approve six new nuclear reactors forward of subsequent years presidential elections.

Most nuclearised international locations go for direct dry storage of spent uranium, however France reprocesses it for future enrichment.

In accordance to French legislation and the nuclear business “reprocessed uranium” would not depend as “nuclear waste” however is as an alternative a “recyclable material” that shall be used once more.


However Greenpeace says that is an “illusion”, as a result of for it to be a recyclable materials, it might want to be reabsorbed.

Russia has cheaper uranium out there. And the one nuclear energy plant in France appropriate to use the “re-enriched reprocessed uranium” consumed solely 600 tonnes between 1994 and 2013.

“France currently has 33,000 tonnes stored in hangars in Pierrelatte, a commune in South-Eastern France – a stock that increases by nearly 1,000 tonnes per year,” Greenpeace’s Génot mentioned.

Orano mentioned it was exporting the reprocessed uranium for recycling and re-use, however it’s sitting on a stockpile that it has no cheap hope of utilizing and that no one wants.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Fee (NRC) not too long ago discovered that the business demand for depleted uranium is at present a lot lower than the quantities generated.

In 1984 the Mont-Louis, a cargo ship that sank off the coast of Zeebrugge, was discovered to carry reprocessed uranium – it was later found that the French nuclear business had been exporting uranium to Russia since 1972.

Greenpeace has demanded the French authorities, as Orano’s majority shareholder, places a halt to the exports and reclassifies reprocessed uranium as nuclear waste.

The Nuclear Security Authority, a French authorities company, has mentioned it is not going to reply, as a result of this issues “a commercial agreement between two private parties”.

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