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Ecologists: 10,000 Tons Of Waste Headed for City

Published: September 26, 2008 (Issue # 1411)


Up to 10,000 tons of depleted uranium hexafluoride are expected to travel through St. Petersburg in the next six months, according to the local branch of the international environmental pressure group Bellona. The next cargo is expected to arrive in town in early October.

Arriving by sea, the radioactive material will then be sent by rail to the town of Novouralsk in Siberia for reprocessing and storage. Most of the cargo arrives in Russia from the Netherlands and Germany but Russia has signed contracts with India, Pakistan and China — states that are rapidly bolstering their nuclear programs — and looks set to receive even more spent nuclear fuel and uranium hexafluoride for reprocessing.

“Alarmingly, the trains that carry the hazardous cargo originate at the Avtovo railway station, very near residential areas,” said Rashid Alimov, head of Bellona’s St. Petersburg branch, at an environmental conference on nuclear safety this week. “Worse, as our investigations have shown, most of the locals in the area have absolutely no idea about the risks that they are regularly being exposed to as a result of the dangerous transfers.”

According to official sources, cargos containing depleted uranium hexafluoride arrive in the city on average ten times a month.

Alimov said radioactivity levels near the trains have significantly exceeded the norm on several occasions over the past year.

“For example, when we measured the levels in March 2008, our equipment showed 680 microroentgen per hour, which is a health- threatening level: the norm is less than ten percent of that amount,” Alimov said.

The environmentalists described “a cloud of secrecy” surrounding nuclear transportation.

“We are especially worried by the fact that Russian environmental groups are constantly denied any opportunity of an independent control and monitoring of the traffic,” Alimov said. “Despite numerous requests, officials have refused to inform us about rescue or clean-up plans that would be implemented should an accident happen.”

The authorities insist they are in full control and do not welcome any help from ecological groups.

Speaking at the conference earlier this week, Oleg Muratov, head of the public council of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, said there has not been a single road accident involving radioactive materials during the history of its transportation in the country.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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