Siberia blocks spent fuel imports

8 January 1999

The region of Krasnoyarsk says it will not accept further deliveries of spent fuel from Ukrainian nuclear plants to the Krasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Combine (KMCC) in Zheleznogorsk (formerly Krasnoyarsk 26), unless it receives advance payments based on world market prices. Krasnoyarsk is also insisting that its governor, Alexander Lebed, should take part in negotiations on the spent fuel issue between Russia and Ukraine, with Krasnoyarsk holding equal negotiating rights. The ban imposed by the region is expected to have an immediate impact on a consignment of spent fuel from Ukraine’s Zaporozhye station.

Regional leaders complain that Krasnoyarsk receives the equivalent of only $275 per kilogram of spent fuel, compared with the world market price of $800-1000, while three-quarters of the payments go to Russia’s federal budget. Last month, Lebed sent Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov a telegram saying that he would not allow shipments from Ukraine to enter Krasnoyarsk unless the price for handling the cargo was raised to $500 per kilogram.

Currently, the plant accepts 300-400 t of spent fuel and radioactive waste a year. Half comes from Russian nuclear plants and the rest from Ukraine. Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov says he shares Lebed’s concern over the low price. He has undertaken to open discussions with Ukrainian officials with the aim of gradually moving to world prices, but no abrupt change is envisaged. Despite Lebed’s threats, a train bringing spent nuclear fuel from Ukraine recently arrived at Zheleznogorsk, according to the Krasnoyarsk branch of the State Nuclear Inspection (Gosatomnadzor) and local environmental activists.



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