Putin Approves Spent-Fuel Import Legislation

Article excerpt

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial set of laws July 11 allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel.

The most significant measure overrides an existing environmental ban on the import of foreign spent fuel for storage or disposal. (See ACT, July/August 2001.) A second law regulates spentfuel import arrangements, and a third designates funds generated from imports for cleanup of radioactively contaminated sites. The Russian legislature approved the laws in June.

Putin also established a commission of government representatives to over-see spent-fuel imports and submitted a bill to the lower house of parliament that would make imports contingent on the group's approval.

Russia hopes to generate substantial revenue by importing, storing, and eventually reprocessing up to 20,000 tons of foreign spent fuel, but critics maintain that there are significant environmental and proliferation risks in making Russia a global nuclear-waste dump.

Although demand for fuel-storage services appears high, at a July 11 press conference Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev said that "there are so far no potential clients in view. …