Petersburg Activists Protest Proposed Nuclear Waste Storage Facility
Special to The Russian Reader
July 16, 2015
Yesterday, July 15, activists protested the proposed construction of Russia’s largest radioactive waste storage facility in Sosnovy Bor, a town eighty kilometers west of Petersburg that also hosts the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. A second plant, Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant–2, is also currently under construction in the town.
The protest took place outside the Mariinsky Palace, seat of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly.
Garbed in hazmat suits, activists from the Beautiful Petersburg and Beautiful Leningrad Region movements brought a barrel to the steps of the palace. It was one of the 500,000 barrels of nuclear waste slated for burial in Sosnovy Bor.
State Duma deputy Nikolai Kuzmin, Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputies Maxim Reznik and Irina Ivanova, and members of the organizations Green Front, Green World, and Native Shore joined the activists. They signed an appeal asking President Putin to halt construction of the storage facility.
The protest did not come off without a provocation. A man who identified himself as a journalist from the “president’s creative special forces” accused the activists, including Kuzmin, of “working on behalf of the west” and “receiving foreign grants.”
In June, the Russian Supreme Court approved the placement of the disposal facility in Sosnovy Bor. Opponents of the project have pointed to the fact that, according to Russian federal standards, such facilities should be built at a considerable distance from populated areas, bodies of water, and recreational areas.
Earlier in the day, Rosatom had announced that it would change the concept of the waste storage facility because it was economically unfeasible. It was not yet known what the new project would look like.
As of this writing, over 47,000 signatures have been collected on a petition against the waste facility posted on Change.org.
In early July, a building supervisor climbed a 110-meter-high construction crane and refused to come down until back wages owed to him and his colleagues were paid.
On July 4, a seventy-ton piece of equipment, a protective tube unit, fell while being lifted at the construction site of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant–2 and was damaged beyond repair. In addition to increasing costs, the accident is likely to delay the project completion date. The plant was initially to be launched in 2013. Later, the launch date was postponed to late 2015. This latest accident may delay the launch even further.
All photographs by and courtesy of David Frenkel