Spent fuel bill agreed

29 June 2001

Russia’s State Duma (lower house) adopted three bills lifting restrictions on the import of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) at a third and final reading on 6 June. The package comprises amendments to the federal law ‘On the use of nuclear energy’, amendments to Article 50 of the law ‘On the Environmental Protection’, and a set of ecological programmes for the rehabilitation of radiation contaminated land.

The first bill, which introduces amendments and additions to the law on atomic energy use, defines “temporary technological storage” and indicates that all SNF work will be subject to civil legal contracts, was adopted by 250 votes to 125. The second, which introduces an exclusion from the existing ban on imports of foreign nuclear materials was passed by 243 to 125. The third bill was adopted by 266 votes to 117.

A proposal by the liberal Yabloko bloc and the Union of the Right Forces in the Duma to reschedule consideration of the bills was rejected by a majority of deputies and by the Duma Ecological Committee. The bills set out terms for implementation of commercial deals connected with foreign SNF storage and processing. They also stipulate the return to the state of origin of wastes which remain after processing.

The bill is now expected to be approved by the Federation Council, the parliament’s upper house. The measure will then need to be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Russia will reportedly have to spend $300 million to upgrade existing storage and reprocessing facilities to handle the waste, but fuel processing contracts could earn the country about $20 billion over 10 years.

A news update on this story will feature in the next NEI.

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