NGOs warn against the solution ‘BACK TO THE USSR’?

(Budapest,June 23, 2004) - Today the NGO coalition Nuclear Waste Watch informed the public about the alarming situation of nuclear waste in the European Union: no solutions, no common policy. The participants called upon the health and environment ministers gathering in Budapest at the Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health to give much higher attention to the unsolved problem of nuclear waste. “We strongly oppose any plans to export nuclear waste to Russia from any EU member states.”

Nuclear waste will be the longest lasting and most outstanding environmental problem our generation will leave to our kids. For the past two years the European Commission has tried to push through a common nuclear waste directive, but this has been rejected by member states, NGOs and even by the nuclear industry. Under these circumstances, it is completely irresponsible to support the construction of any nuclear power plant.

Antonia Wenisch of the Austrian Institute for Applied Ecology outlined the EU strategy for solving the waste issue: ‘Under the slogan of “reducing the amount of high level waste” the EC funds research on new technologies e.g. “transmutation” for a new fuel cycle and new reactors. Besides this long-term programme, the EC is financing research on the possibility of getting rid of the problem fast and painless – by exporting it to Russia.’

Ada Ámon, director of the Hungarian NGO Energy Club, pointed out that just one day before Hungary became a full member of the EU, the government announced that an agreement had been signed with Russia that allows Hungary to transport to and store spent nuclear fuel in Russian facilities. “It seems that Hungary is the pioneer on this dirty route.”

Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of the well-known Russian environmental organisation, Ecodefense stresses that despite mass opposition al over in Russia the government pushed through the law which allows the import of nuclear waste. 'Chelyabinsk is still one of the most polluted regions of the world, mainly because of accidents and constant leaks from the spent fuel reprocessing facilities. We expect from the EU, which claims to be environmentally responsible and aware of human rights, to refrain from sending their nuclear garbage to us.’ He added that the Russian nuclear waste facilities are in bad condition, the security is very low, so there is a high risk that the material ends up in the hands of terrorists and can be used for weapons of mass destruction.

Antonia Wenisch, Austrian Institute for Applied Ecology,,

Vladimir Slivyak, Ecodefense, e-mail:,

Ada Ámon, Energy Club,,

download the presentations held at the workshop:
Antonia Wenisch: nuclear waste management: policy and research in the EU
Ada Amon, nuclear waste from Hungary to Russia ?