Activists, despite government oppression, campaign for decommissioning of Russia’s aging nuclear reactors

Anti–nuclear resistance in Russia: problems, protests, reprisals [Full Report 2020]    Report “Anti–nuclear resistance in Russia: problems, protests, reprisals” Produced by RSEU’s program “Against nuclear and radioaсtive threats”
Published: Saint Petersburg, Russia, 2020

“………..For many years, Murmansk regional environmental groups have opposed the ageing Kola NPP reactor’s lifetime extension. They have participated in public hearings, have organised many demonstrations (8-9-10), appealed to and received support from the prosecutor’s office(11), but this was all ignored by Rosatom. Activists also called on the governor to shut down the old NPP, but environmental organisations were shutdown instead. One such organisation is Kola Environmental Center (KEC) – listed as a Foreign Agent in 2017– and was subject to two trials and fined 150,000 rubles (12). KEC was forced to close down as a legal entity in2018, but has continued its environmental work as a public movement(13). Another organisation in the region –Nature and Youth – made the decision to close down in order to avoid prosecution, but continues its work as an unregistered initiative

Decommissioning problems
Most of the Russian nuclear power plants, despite their lifetime extensions, are approaching inevitable closure. Over the next 15 years, the NPP decommissioning process will take place. Currently, 36 power units are in operation at 11 NPPs in Russia, and 7 units have been shut down. While the fuel was removed from 5 of these units, the NPPs have not yet been decommissioned(14). This process will lead to enormous amounts of nuclear waste. Moreover, sufficient funds for the decommissioning process have not yet been earmarked. (15)
• In 2018, after 45 years of operation, the first power unit of the Leningrad NPP was finally shut down.The second one scheduled for shutdown is in 2020, the third in 2025 and the fourth in 2026. However,decommissioning projects have not yet been clearly developed for the reactors.

Rosenergoatom, Rosatom’s subsidiary, will develop them in the years following the shutdowns. (16)
• The public organisation, Green World, has worked for many years in Sosnovy Bor, Leningrad Region, a city dominated by the nuclear industry and closed to outsiders. Since 1988, activists of the organisation have opposed dangerous nuclear projects in the Baltic Sea region(17) and have provided the public with independent information on the environmental situation. (18)
Green World has consistently called for the decommissioning of Leningrad NPP and took an early lead in collecting and preparing information on how decommissioning should take place, studying the experience of other countries. (19)

They have paid particular attention to information transparency and to wide participation indecision–making, including, for example, former employees of the nuclear industry. (20)
Rather than be met with cooperation, the organisation and its activists have, since the beginning, experienced pressure from the authorities and the dirty nuclear industry. Activists faced dismissal, lawsuits and even attempts on their lives.In 2015,

Green World was listed as a Foreign Agent and forced to close. (21)
In its place, another organisation was opened – the Public Council of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland. Activists have continued their work as before under this new name…….”

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