This is an excerpt of a transcript to lighten your day. :-)
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
Nuclear Energy Chief Sees Spent Fuel Imports As Key To Nuclear Security
CEP20050726027116 Moscow Radio Rossii in
Russian 0630 GMT 26 Jul 05
[FBIS Translated Excerpt]
[Presenter] Welcome to Radio Russia. My name
is Vitaliy Ushkanov, and this is Persona Grata. [Passage omitted]
The head of Russia's
Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, Academician Aleskandr Rumyantsev, is our
guest today. [On his 60th birthday] [Passage omitted: biography of Rumyantsev,
comments on history of atomic energy, and generally about people's fears of it]
The situation regarding spent nuclear fuel is very well known, and has
inflamed passions. A law was passed in the end [about the import of spent nuclear
fuel]. The press said this was done thanks to lobbying by the Atomic Energy
Ministry [since transformed into federal agency].
So we have the law, and there is no getting away from that. So you can
do something that you could not do before.
Recently in Moscow
there was a conference on the prospects for the nuclear fuel cycle, where the
trade in spent nuclear fuel was discussed. It is no secret that your department
supports the creation of a center for the reprocessing and storage this kind of
fuel near Krasnoyarsk.
This again is arousing fears, and has given rise to protests by
environmentalists, who say that you want to make Russia virtually a pioneer in this
dangerous business. Is this so?
[Rumyantsev] Let's look at the issue in a slightly broader context. This
law was passed exactly four years ago. If you recall what I said in the
newspapers, TV and radio at that time, you will find that I was saying then
what I will say now, four years later. This law is necessary for us as a
legislative means to import into Russia
spent nuclear fuel, so that we can improve our integration in the international
community by getting into the market for supplying fresh fuel, enrichment
services and undertaking construction of nuclear power plants outside Russia.
Our opponents around the world were always saying that since you do not
have this legislation, you have no place on the market for creating these
atomic energy capacities.
[Presenter] So they tried to keep you out of this market?
[Rumyantsev] We were criticized. And those countries which understood
that if they construct something according to a Russian plan, and purchase
Russian fuel, that we cannot return this fuel in the full volume, since we have
no law governing this in detail, they would perhaps look at other countries
supplying this heavy equipment which is uniquely complicated and involves high
So over these four years, not a gram of spent fuel from nuclear reactors
of foreign manufacture has been brought into Russia. At the same time, our
export potential has risen by 150 percent.
[Presenter] Just because of this law.
[Rumyantsev] That's right. A silence descended on the world market, when
they realized that this argument was no longer valid. There was even a fear
that we could use dumping prices to take part of the spent nuclear fuel market
from countries who do very well out of this. But we did not do this either.
You asked about transparency. I speak about this all the time, but
no-one listens to me. At the same time, those who say that Russia has been
turned into a dumping ground, and has been taking waste from all over the
world, their slogan has been heard just about every month in various parts of
the media for the past four years.
[Presenter] So, you haven't taken any. But you want to, don't you?
If exports grew, then maybe that would be sufficient, and we would not
need any burial sites.
[Rumyantsev] The topic of this conference was completely different. At
the moment, we are facing a vital question. How to counter terrorism, and not
to allow fissile material and nuclear technology to fall into the hands of
terrorists. This is referred to in UN Resolution 1540, which was passed
The whole world has united, and his still uniting, in the fight against
these threats. It was to this that the conference was dedicated. It was not
only dedicated to the tail-end of the nuclear fuel cycle, which the Greens
immediately started making a fuss about, it was also dedicated to the start of
the fuel cycle.
That is, it is being proposed to countries that they get guaranteed use
only of the benefits of atomic energy, and that the countries that possess
nuclear technologies will build nuclear power plants for them, and put the supply
of nuclear fuel under state guarantees, and take the spent fuel, so that there
is no problem with the development of a national fuel cycle, which is very
sensitive, given the fact that terrorists could get hold of individual elements
as a weapons, not just a weapon of mass destruction, but as a weapon with the
ability to cause mass disquiet. [Passage omitted: refers to Chernobyl and says that terrorists need fear]
[Presenter] You haven't answered. So is Russia the first country importing
spent nuclear fuel?
is not spoken about. It is a question of a group of countries who could offer
all those elements of the fuel cycle to those countries who have given up the
idea of their own national cycle.
has a legislative amendment for the import of the fuel. That's why Russia held
this conference. We possess at each stage all the elements of the nuclear fuel
cycle, and we know how to deal with these things very well.
That is why this conference under the patronage of the International
Atomic Energy Agency gathered together here virtually all the leading
member-states, which presented their reports.
In my own report I said that there are number of countries here. Some
supply fresh fuel, and others can close the cycles. I always cite France as an
example here. France
operates very well on the spent fuel market. [Passage omitted: describes French
is against us getting involved in this, isn't it?
[Rumyantsev] They understand that we do not have the same level of
technology as they have. I should say this honestly. They discharge wastewater
which is fit for drinking, and they do not emit anything into the atmosphere. I
am envious of this, in a good way. The point is that France came to nuclear
technologies significantly later than, for example, the USA and Russia, and it
created its atomic capacity on the basis of different foundations in terms of
human development. Both we and the USA have the same problems.
[Passage omitted: says US had its own problems in the past]
But there is no global danger from what we have built up. You see that
there is a clamor, but there is no instance of someone suffering radiation
poisoning as a consequence of something left behind by nuclear weapons
production. All these storage facilities have been properly evacuated. All of
this is under control. Still, there are problems. I won't deny or dress things
We have administration reforms, in which the approach to planning is
being changed. We are looking at a three-year cycle. We are looking at
results-geared funding. This is the next stage of the administrative. We are
carrying out our departmental program, and we are looking at huge amounts of
money by today's standards, hundreds of millions of roubles, for dealing with
all the negative consequences which have accompanied the process of the
creation of the national nuclear weaponry. That is mission 522. I know by heart
all the systems and measures of the Techenskiy cascade [facility in Chelyabinsk
Region in which radioactive waste is discharged]. Last month I made a special
visit to all these dams, all the lakes and storage facilities, and we will be
making serious progress on this.
You say that you live near the Kurchatov Institute. Well, we conducted
the first pilot project in this institute. Over the last few years we have
taken out all the low-level waste, which was kept there from the late 1940s and
early 1950s when the Kurchatov Institute was leading work on solving our
weapons problem. [Passage omitted: more on the institute]
I can say that this first pilot was carried through in close alliance
with [Moscow Mayor] Yuriy Mikhaylovich Luzhkov, with the Moscow government, and with some financial
help from a federal program, but with most of the money coming from the federal
agency. That is how we will proceed with regard to all the facilities in our
industry, where there is this kind of legacy. [Passage omitted: joke about Moscow being clean
[Presenter] Am I right in saying that you cannot envisage the future
without atomic energy?
[Rumyantsev] When the forecast goes beyond 20 years, as a scientist I am
very sceptical about its validity.
But we can look at what is actually going. There is no doubt that the natural
resources - oil, gas, coal - are being exhausted. The resources that have been
discovered are sufficient for humanity not to experience a shortage for 100
years or a little longer. [Passage omitted: quotation]
It is true that you can make different things from gas and oil, and get
energy in a different form. You can also say that Uranium deposits are also
running out, and are sufficient only for 100 years or so.
But the thing is that you don't only have thermal neutron reactors,
which are used now, you are also have fast neutron reactors, which use not
Uranium-235 in the fuel cycles, of which there is only 0.7 percent in natural
deposits, but the main Uranium-238 of which there are hundreds of thousands of
tonnes. We don't know what to do with this depleted Uranium, whether to dispose
of it or not. But it can be used in this nuclear fuel cycle.
In this case, the fuel can last for 1,000 or 1,500 years if closed fuel
cycles are established on the basis of either thorium, of which we have a lot,
[Presenter] What about solar power or wind power.
[Rumyantsev] They are just drops in the ocean, fractions of a per cent.
[Passage omitted: disparages alternative energy]
Atomic energy gives us 17 percent.
[Present] So we cannot get by without the civil atomic energy?
[Rumyantsev] More than likely. [Passage omitted: speculates about the
unpredictable nature of future]
[Description of Source: Moscow Radio Rossii in Russian -- government-owned
radio station, part of the state media holding company]
THIS REPORT MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND
DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.