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Russia and Germany have taken advantage of the coronavirus crisis to resume shipping radioactive waste to dump in the Urals and Siberia in northern Russia.
When Russian environmental groups discovered, in autumn 2019, that Germany was exporting radioactive waste from it's nuclear power stations to Russia, via the harbor of Amsterdam, they directly organized protests in the three countries.
Those protests had success, and the transport by rail and sea of uranium - a waste product of nuclear fuel production by Urenco Germany - was put on hold. That was before the coronavirus crisis hit.
But in March 2020, when Covid-19 lockdowns restricted people's right to protest in Russia even further, the shipments of radioactive waste were set to resume.
BBC news reports that twelve rail cars carrying 600 tonnes of depleted uranium left Germany bound for Russia earlier this week.
Vitaly Servetnik from Russian Social–Ecological Union/Friends of the Earth Russia said:
“This radioactive waste is being sent to the Urals and Siberia. There it will be stored in containers above ground posing a direct danger to the environment and people living in the area. Disguised as a commercial transaction between Rosatom and Urenco, Germany exports its radioactive waste problem.”
Olaf Bandt, chair of BUND / Friends of the Earth Germany said:
“The federal government stands by while part of the unresolved nuclear waste problem moves quietly and secretly to Russia. German nuclear waste should not be disposed of in other countries, putting lives of people in danger. Germany must finally complete the nuclear phase-out.”
In response, the Russian Social–Ecological Union/Friends of the Earth Russia and other environmental and human rights groups organised a digital action. Images of activists holding signs reading “No uranium tails!” and “Russia is not a dump!” flooded social media.