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Consulation for a new Euratom directive on radioactive waste

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jan Haverkamp - Greenpeace EU Unit

The European Commission has started a consultation for the preparation of a new Euratom Directive on nuclear waste. The goal of this Directive is basically to try to convince the citizens in Europe that the radioactive waste problem is solved, in order to make a large group of those who oppose nuclear power change their mind. We ask your help to prevent this from happening. To be clear: we feel an EU Directive on Nuclear Waste Management could be beneficial - but it should not be used as a tool of nuclear manipulation. We therefore ask you to participate in this consultation.

Over the last weeks it has become increasingly clear that the Commission is wanting to push deep geological storage through the throats of European citizens as the solution to nuclear waste. It furthermore becomes clear that it wants to do so in breakneck speed - this generation needs to 'solve' the problem and wipe all open issues under the carpet (with the waste - deep deep geologically under the carpet - out of sight, out of mind), and that in order to be able to support a new wave of new nuclear power stations that will increase the problems for another three generations more. Another issue that becomes increasingly clear is that the Commission wants to step away from the national responsibility for nuclear waste and open the options for regional dumps. That combined with the current trend to locate possible dump-sites on the location with the lowest public resistance instead of best technical suitability (see Finland, Sweden, Belgium, UK, Czech Republic, Slovenia) is enough reason to raise the alarm.

Here some recent quotes from EU and Euratom Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger during a conference on 4 May for the nuclear lobby group Deutches AtomForum in Berlin. Oettinger wanted "concrete steps" toward construction of "modern, operational final" nuclear waste repositories in the EU. He said that Europeans must resolve the nuclear waste disposal issue "in our [countries], in our generation." and that it was unacceptable that no final repository has been built despite decades of work on the issue and that operation of a repository is still decades away. 

He announced that the nuclear waste directive will ban export of nuclear waste outside of the EU. The reason is not responsibility, but to ensure European control over final waste management. This is as such good as it would stop Bulgaria hopes on exporting waste to Mayak for indefinite storage or packages with the Russians in which they deliver fuel and take back the waste (although that is currently more strictly forbidden already under Russian law). But... it will NOT stop the exports of Depleted Uranium wastes to Russia, as DU will not be defined as waste but resource (for future fast breeder reactors - remember Monju in Japan was just restarted last week after a repair that took 14 years...). Nor will it stop export of spent nuclear fuel to Mayak or other places outside the EU, because SNF is not defined under nuclear waste.

He furthermore said that the idea of state responsibility would not rule out the possibility that "two or more" EU states with small nuclear programs could construct a common dump, "But please, not outside the EU."

Please, get experts in your country, region, town, get mayors and interested inhabitants from locations that oppose a nuclear waste dump, get other NGOs express their concerns in the consultation.

It would be good if you send us a confirmation that you have filled in the form and a copy of your 'free space' submissions from question 7, so that we can keep an eye on whether the Commission takes your submissions into due account:

Or send a printed version to:

European Commission
DG ENER/Unit Nuclear energy, transport, decommissioning & waste management
(DDG2.D2) Euroforum building L - 2920 Luxembourg

In that case, also send a copy to:

Jan Haverkamp
Greenpeace EU Unit
Rue Belliard 199
B - 1040 Brussels