23 Dec 2019 19:03

Rosatom considering possibility of moving depleted uranium transit point from St. Petersburg to other northwestern ports - Tekhnabexport

ST. PETERSBURG. Dec 23 (Interfax) - The state corporation Rosatom is studying the possibility of moving the depleted uranium transit point from St. Petersburg to other northwestern regions, Oleg Kozin, an adviser to the general director of the joint stock company Tekhnabexport (a Rosatom structure), told reporters on Monday.

"The schedule [of vessels carrying depleted uranium from Germany to Russia] for next year is still being discussed with our foreign partners. We, for our part, will make every effort to speed up the processes on the possibility of working in other northwestern ports," he said, summing up the results of an ad hoc meeting of the Rosatom public council in the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly.

The meeting addressed evaluation of the technical capability of transferring the transit point of depleted uranium hexafluoride from St. Petersburg. The port Ust-Luga, located in the Leningrad region, was discussed as an alternative.

"We discussed the transfer [of the depleted uranium hexafluoride transit point] There is some experience of doing that. We need to provide guarantees of the level of safety that is provided now [in the St. Petersburg port]. That, accordingly, involves the receipt of permits, licenses of the relevant Russian authorities, personnel training and support of the entire section where the work will be done. Such work is being done by our organization and we will use other ports of the northwestern region to receive depleted uranium hexafluoride," Kozin said.

During the meeting, city deputy Boris Vishnevsky (Yabloko) spoke categorically against bringing any substances that pose danger into the territory of Russia.

Mikhail Amosov, a deputy of the Legislative Assembly, suggested using Ust-Luga for uranium hexafluoride transit.

Deputies are concerned about possible incidents during the shipment of containers and their depressurization.

Maxim Shingarkin, the head of the public environmental foundation Grazhdanin, said depleted uranium is transported in containers that meet the 48Y and not a single incident leading to depressurization and leakage was registered during the transportation. Depleted uranium is a solid substance, which is twice as solid as granite, not a liquid or a gas. Such containers survive a fall to a concrete plate from a height of eight meters, can be heated to 800 degrees in the course of half an hour and survive a pressure of 14 atmospheres, he said.

Protests against the transit of deleted uranium through St. Petersburg began in the city in November. The issue was repeatedly raised in the meetings of the Legislative Assembly by deputies Boris Vishnevsky and Maxim Reznik. The protesters are protesting vessels carrying uranium from Germany entering the St. Petersburg port.