A. Nuclear Waste
1. Proposal for foreign spent fuel storage in Russia, Bellona (05/30/99)
2. Nuclear train leaves Murmansk, Bellona (05/31/99)
3. Japan to Help Russia with Nuclear Arms Utilization, Itar-Tass(05/30/99)
4. Offers Increased Help In Disposing Of Old Nuclear Submarines, RFE/RLNewsline (05/31/99)
B. U.S.-Russian Relations
1. Stop the Spies, Washington Post (06/01/99)
A. Nuclear Waste
Proposal for foreign spent fuel storage in Russia
May 30, 1999
(for personal use only)
A U.S. and German industry group has developed a proposal for shippingforeign spent fuel to Russia for long-term storage. The proceeds of theventure would be a minimum of $4 billion, coming from nations trying torid themselves of spent nuclear fuel problems. Part of this money willgo to help pay Russian pensioners and orphans.
The proposal to store foreign spent nuclear fuel in Russia will be sentto key Russian and U.S. officials in May, but it's already known thatthe plans have been discussed informally with Russian minister of atomicenergy, Yevgeny Adamov. Last week The Moscow Times quoted Adamov assaying, "Russia must fight for its share of the nuclear waste market."
Non-proliferation Trust Inc. (NPT) will manage the proceeds of the deal.According to the presented proposal, the project entails the shipping ofat least 6,000 metric tons of spent fuel from various countries - likeSwitzerland, South-Korea and Taiwan - to a new storage in Russia,probably at Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26) in Siberia. The spent nuclearfuel, originating from the countries' civilian nuclear power plants,will be stored in Russia for at least 40 years. After that, it wouldeither continue to be stored in Russia, buried in a repository there, ormoved to other international storage sites, like the Pacificatoll of Wake Island. In any case, the spent fuel will never be returnedto the utilities, according to the proposed project. Minatom says theywill also keep the door open for the possible right to reprocess spentnuclear fuel at a later stage. But the Americans say reprocessing is outof question.
Local Greens protest the plan
Despite assurances from U.S. and German industry groups, many Russianenvironmentalist fear the foreign spent fuel could be reprocessed in thefuture. In any case, if the spent fuel should be buried in a repositoryin Russia, it will be met with scepticism from environmental groups, notonly in the Krasnoyarsk region, but all over Russia.
Krasnoyarsk environmentalists have already described the proposednuclear plan as a "dirty trick" between Minatom and the U.S. businessgroup. Spokesman for a local anti-nuclear watch-dog, Vladimir Mikheyev,says no Greens in Russia will sell themselves out; saying it would betreasonous, even for U.S. dollars. According to his group, the existingstorage for spent fuel in Zheleznogorsk already contains amounts ofwaste fuel comparable with 61 Chernobyl's.
On June 1, the Youth Yabloko party and the Social Ecological Unionannounced a demonstration outside the State Duma in Moscow, protestingthe plans to import nuclear waste from other countries.
Four possible repository sites
Russia, in common with a number of Western countries, does not currentlypossess a repository suitable for the permanent disposal of spentnuclear fuel. Currently four candidate sites for such repository inRussia are under investigation:
1.Disposal in permafrost at Novaya Zemlya.
2.Deep disposal in granite formations at Kola Peninsula.
3.Deep disposal in porphyrite at Mayak in Southern Ural.
4.Deep disposal in granite at Zheleznogorsk in Krasnoyarsk region.
Future leakage of radioactivity from either of the above mentionedlocations will effect the Arctic oceans, either directly or via theRussian rivers Ob or Yenitsey.
$4 billion to nuclear safety
The countries which will get rid of their nuclear waste by sending it tothe planned new storage in Russia will be charged between $1,000 to$2,000 per kilogram, bringing the cost to $6 to $12 billion for theplanned 6,000 metric tons. Of this, the proceeds of the venture will bea minimum of $4 billion (revenues minus costs). According to NPT, the $4billion proceeds would be managed by a separate Minatom DevelopmentTrust and will be spent for both nuclear safety measures and socialprograms in Russia. The money is divided up for the following purposes:
--Fissile materials and safeguards enhancements, including dispositionof 50 metric tons of weapon grade plutonium ($1,8 billion);
--Spent nuclear fuel decommissioning and disposition, including thedevelopment of a spent fuel geological repository ($700 million);
--Additional non-proliferation programs and charitable programsadministered by Minatom; ($600 million);
--Pensions and salary arrears for nuclear and defence workers ($200million);
--Various Russian environmental programs ($200 million);
--General pension payments for eligible retirees ($200 million);
--Payment to orphans ($100 million);
Income will be spent for nuclear warheads
While the American side looks into the planned storage project as agenuine way to fund nuclear safety and fissile materials safeguards inRussia, the Russian Minister of atomic energy sees a second option inthe deal. After the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia started in March, theRussian Security Council ordered the development of a new generation ofnuclear warheads. In mid May Adamov complained that "they (SecurityCouncil) told us to accelerate military nuclear programs, but said weshould do that using our own sources of revenue." In response Adamovstated that without money coming from West aspayment for nuclear storage, Russia cannot manage a new generation ofnuclear weapons.
While the NPT project talks about a maximum of 6 000 metric tons ofspent nuclear fuel, Adamov has a bigger perspective on the opportunitiesfor Russia. He says that spent nuclear fuel collection from othercountries and storage in Russia is a "$150 billion business".World-wide, more than 160 000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel havebeen produced since the nuclear age started some 50 years ago. Less than10 percent of it has been reprocessed. Annually, 10 000 metric tonspiles up. This means more and more spent nuclear fuel needs to bestored, and a growing international demand for nuclear waste storingfacilities. "This is a golden opportunity for Russia," Adamov says.
German companies also involved
The initiators of the plan consist of several U.S. and German companies,in addition to private persons. Alaska Interstate Construction will havethe responsibility for the construction and management of the new spentnuclear fuel storage, although a substantial part of the constructionwork will be subcontracted to Minatom. The German companiesWissenschaftlich-Technische Ingenieurberatung GmbH and Gesellschaft fürNuklear Service mbH participates with their knowledge in spent fuelstorage constructions and casks development and monitoring systems. Theplanned storage in Russia will be modeled after the German storagefacility at Ahaus. The German government recently said it will stopsending spent nuclear fuel from German power plants for reprocessing inFrance. It remains to be seen what kind of solutions for the Germanspent nuclear fuel will be chosen, but Russian environmentalists' areafraid Germany might go for storage in Russia.
The U.S. shipbuilder Halter Marine will build the needed transportationvessel for spent nuclear fuel from the participating countries toRussia. The law firm Egan & Associates is a partner in the projects totake care of international nuclear regulations and agreements.
The time schedule for implementing the storage project is not yet clear.The main obstacles for the project today are current Russianenvironmental legislation, which forbids the import of nuclear wastefrom foreign countries. But the law might soon be changed. Russianminister of atomic energy Yevgeny Adamov is strongly lobbying to amendRussian environmental law in favour of spent nuclear fuel imports and hehas the support from most Duma members, which are hoping to bring Russiainto the billion-dollar world marked for nuclear waste management.
Today Russia imports spent nuclear fuel from countries usingSoviet-designed reactors, among them Ukraine, the Czech Republic,Slovakia and Bulgaria. Spent nuclear fuel from Finland was exported toRussia until 1996, but was stopped after political pressure fromenvironmentalists, among them the Bellona Foundation.
The spent nuclear fuel from the VVER-440 reactors in Hungary and Finlandwas shipped to the reprocessing plant RT-1 at Mayak, while the VVER-1000spent fuel from Ukraine is shipped to the storage near the planned RT-2reprocessing plant at Zheleznogorsk.
In January this year, the Russian environmental group Social EcologicalUnion, released a document signed by Russia and a Swiss utility officialexpressing Swiss interest in sending spent nuclear fuel to Russia forpermanent storage. The release of the document created huge protestsfrom environmentalists who says Russia is already unable to handle itsown nuclear waste left from the Soviet era.
U.S. environmentalist provide public policy advice
But the new NPT project is well prepared for protests fromenvironmentalists and politicians in Russia. Thomas Cochran, a seniorstaff scientist at the Washington D.C. based Natural Resource DefenceCouncil (NRDC), is actively working for the project. In an interviewwith the newsletter NuclearFuel in May Cochran says the parts of theproject devoted to help Russian pensioners ($200 million) and to helpRussian orphans ($100 million) is necessary in order to win the supportof key members of the Russian Duma. "I only provide public policy adviceto NPT," Cochran said.
Nuclear train leaves Murmansk
May 31, 1999
(for personal use only)
This year's second train laden with spent nuclear fuel left Murmansklast week.
The nuclear train arrived to Murmansk around mid May to ship spent fuelto Mayak plant in Siberia for reprocessing. The train was in early Aprilin Severodvinsk, Archangel County, to pick up a load of spent fuel fromnuclear submarines.
Four TUK-18 type railway cars were loaded at the Atomflot base fornuclear powered icebreakers in the suburb of Murmansk. This time,however, the train did not take any civilian spent fuel. The fuel loadedcomes from the Northern Fleet. A part of the fuel was taken from thestorage onboard civilian service vessel, the Lotta, and a part from thenaval service vessel, PM-12 (Malina class), which arrived to Murmanskearlier this month for that purpose.
This is the second shipment of spent fuel to Mayak plant so far thisyear. No further shipment schedules are known. Officials from MurmanskShipping Company, which operates icebreaker fleet and manages fuelshipment from the Kola Peninsula, says that future plans would dependupon funding from Moscow.
Japan to Help Russia with Nuclear Arms Utilization
May 30, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, May 30 (Itar-Tass) - The Japanese government plans to enlargethe assistance to Russia in the utilization of nuclear armaments and theenvironmental protection. The proposals were outlined at consultationsof Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura and his Russian colleagueIgorIvanov in Moscow on Saturday, sources at the Japanese embassy in Moscowtold Itar- Tass on Sunday.
Japan plans a larger assistance in the dismantling and utilization ofnuclear-powered submarines no longer in use by the Pacific fleet. Thegovernments of Japan and Russia will make feasibility studies of thefollowing projects:
-- the unloading of used nuclear fuel from nuclear-power submarineswhich have been idle for long, the fuel's putting into transport-packingsystems, the construction of a storing site for used nuclear fuel at theZvezda ship-building plant and the reconstruction of the railroad on theBolshoiKamen-Smodyaninovo section.
-- the utilization of a multipurpose nuclear-powered submarine of theVictor class at the Zvezda ship-building plant.
-- the transformation of the Pinega specialized tanker into a vessel to transport containers with used nuclear fuel to a place of loading thecontainers onto a train.
Tokyo thinks that the safe utilization and the liquidation ofnuclear-powered submarines no longer in use by the Pacific fleet is animportant task in the environmental protection of the Sea of Japan.
Offers Increased Help In Disposing Of Old Nuclear Submarines
May 31, 1999
(for personal use only)
Komura told Ivanov during their meeting that Japan will step up itsassistance to Russia in dismantlingand scrapping its decommissioned nuclear submarines in the Pacific,ITAR-TASS reported on 30 May, citing sources at the Japanese Embassy inMoscow. The two sides agreed to carry out feasibility studies on anumber of projects, including unloading spent nuclear fuel fromdecommissioned submarines belonging to Russia's Pacific Fleet andconstructing a storage site for such fuel at the Zvezda ship-buildingplant in Russia's Far East.
B. U.S.-Russian Relations
Stop the Spies
Ellen O. Tauscher
Washington Post, page A15
June 01, 1999
(for personal use only)
The report released last week by the House Select Committee on U.S.National Security is startling, but not because China tried to steal ournuclear weapons designs. Public and private espionage is an unfortunatefact that comes with having the most advanced weapons systems in theworld. What is startling is that our intelligence operation for 20 yearsand through multiple administrations woefully underestimated China'sefforts and failed to prevent their successes.
In responding to these revelations, the United States must focus on thesystemic failure of our counterintelligence operation. It has lackedcentralization and did not adequately address emerging threats in thepost-Cold War paradigm. Our intelligence agencies also have failed toembrace new technologies. Just as our national labs lead the world instate-of-the-art technology, so too must our counterintelligenceagencies lead the world in surveillance and verification measures.
I represent a district in California that is home to two of our nation'slabs, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia California National Laboratories.The overwhelming majority of the men and women who work there arehonest, hard-working and patriotic. They embrace their role ofmaintaining the most advanced defense arsenal in the world that keepsAmerican families safe. Fortunately, they are good at their jobs.
In the event of suspected espionage, it is the FBI's duty to gathercriminal evidence admissible in court. So while one part of ourgovernment is responsible for developing the secrets, another is chargedwith prosecuting spies. In the pursuit of their individual aims, theprimary goal of protecting our secrets has been ignored. That isinexcusable. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson's decision to appoint acounterintelligence czar and form a new Office of Counterintelligence isa critical first step to ensuring that our ultimate responsibility willbe to make our nuclear laboratories theft proof.
In Congress, I have been working with a bipartisan coalition led by Rep.Norm Dicks (Wash.), the Democrats' ranking member on the SelectCommittee, to solve these structural deficiencies in ourcounterintelligence operation. Specifically, our proposal creates achain of command withultimate authority resting with the secretary of energy and establishesfinancial penalties for activities often associated with espionage, suchas shifting classified materials into unclassified computer networks.
We also need to move our counterintelligence operation beyond the ColdWar by addressing new threats and new technologies. It is clear from thereport that our agents are still looking for someone to walk out of thelobby with a three-ring binder marked "National Security Secrets." Butyesterday's notebooks are today's high-speed modems. The tools in ourcounterintelligence arsenal must always be one step ahead of theever-evolving high-technology tools of espionage.
I fear, though, that in reacting to the report, some people will seekpolitically expedient solutions that neither achieve their stated goalsnor are in our national interest. Already, some in Congress have calledfor shutting down all visits to our national labs by foreign scientists.This simplistic approach fails to distinguish between the smuggling ofour classified national secrets by American citizens and conductingnon-classified, disarmament-oriented exchanges with countries such asRussia.
In February, I spent a week in Moscow meeting with U.S. and Russianscientists who administer programs designed to stop Russian scientistsand their nuclear materials from going to countries such as Iran, Iraqand North Korea. Given the state of the Russian economy and the factthat Russia's uranium stockpiles are not locked down, we have no choicebut to engage our Russian counterparts on a scientist-to-scientistlevel. That is why misdirected reactions to Chinese espionage could endup jeopardizing our national security.
We also must reject isolationists who want to use this opportunity toreverse years of progress in our relations with China. Continuing ouractive engagement with China on trade and humanitarian issues is just asmuch a part of our national interest as it was last month or last year.Gaining China acceptance to the World Trade Organization will forceChina to adopt rules-based trade practices that will make China conformto world standards and give its trading partners a forum to adjudicategrievances.
In fashioning complete and accurate solutions to our counterintelligenceoperation, we must resist expressions of false indignation that Chinawould diligently attempt to steal our nuclear weapons designs. As aworld superpower for the past 50 years, we have the most advancedthermonuclear warheads and electromagnetic technology in the world. Partof being the idea capital of the world is protecting those ideas. It isup to us to protect what is ours.
The writer, a Democratic representative from California, is a member ofthe House Armed Services Committee.