27. April 2005

Nordic Council discusses Environmental Problems of Baltic Region in Pärnu

Contribution of NGO Green World, St.Peterburg
Unsustainable development of North-West Russia

Introduction to the problems:
(Material given as input for Meeting of NORDIC COUNCIL, April 27th 2005 in Pärnu, Estonia)
Russian state and Russian society has lost effective control over the development of nuclear complex in the North-West of Russia.
Mass violations of the Constitution and laws of the Russian Federation take place. At the same time, the state regulatory bodies do not perform their functions on securing environmental safety. Attempts of the public to influence this situation are blocked or ignored.
The Federal Energy Commission of Russia made not legal decision December 26, 2003, No.110-E/11 about the financing in 2004-2005 the reconstruction of the old nuclear units and lifetime extension of the dangerous (first generation) reactors, and designing of the new generation of the NPP with the reactor VVER-1500. All this actions started without the Environmental Impact Assessment and the State Environmental Examinations.
The international infrastructure for shipment of nuclear and radioactive waste to Russia through the Baltic Sea ports has started to be formed: The government of Russia has announced [Decree # 1491-r, October 14, 2003] that the ports of Baltiysk (Kaliningrad), Ust-Luga and Vysotsk (Leningrad Oblast) have the status of ports suitable for the transshipment of nuclear and radioactive materials.
Deputies of the upper and lower chambers of the Russian parliament, which were elected from the constituencies of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland, represent the interests of nuclear and port business. E.g. deputy Yuzhilin voted for the amendments to Russian legislation, which would permit import of spent nuclear fuel from Western nuclear power plants.
In this way, the political and business structure has been established, which is interested in the promotion of projects for the import of nuclear and radioactive waste to Russia.
Facts and processes, which necessitate public participation in order to promote sustainable development (SD) and preserve natural, historical and cultural, values of the North-West Russia as a part of the Baltic and Barents regions (BBR).

1. lifetime extension of the old nuclear reactors on Leningrad NPP (LNPP) beyond they design limit without the state environmental examination, public participation and consideration of feasible alternatives.
There are serious problems in ensuring safe operation of LNPP and safe management (long-term storage or disposal) of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste, which have accumulated during 30 years of the plant operation.
In accordance with Russian legislation, the lifetime extension of old reactors requires the state environmental examination of the Project for a power unit lifetime extension. The procedure of such examination foresees the consideration of solutions alternative to the lifetime extension, and the projects for safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel, evaluation of the social acceptability of the NPP operation for the health of people and environment. It is necessary to establish mechanisms for the participation of stakeholder groups in the decision making about the future fate of NPPs in the North-West Russia as the part of BBR.
October 4, 2004: Andrey Malishev, Head of Federal Service for Environmental, Technical and Nuclear Control (former Gosatomnadzor), signed a license for further operation of the first unit (oldest existing RBMK-1000 reactor) of Leningrad NPP. This was done in violation of the Russian Constitution, without the state environmental examination, which is prescribed by the appropriate Act on State Environmental Examination, and with complete neglect of the procedure for issuing such licenses.
The concern RosEnergoAtom began the exploitation of the oldest and dangerous LNPP reactor October 7, 2004, but it was twice stopped during 2 month by the systems of the automatically safety control.
Rosenergoatom used the same strategy for the lifetime extension of the first generation of the old reactor VVER 440/230 in Kola NPP.
July 2005 the second unit of the first generation ‘Chernobyl-type’ reactor of Leningrad NPP (LNPP) will reach design limit. ROSENERGOATOM have planned to prolong the operation of this unit on 15 years too.
The lifetime extension of the old reactor on LNPP where undertaken after the "safety audit" by private company. There was no any public or local authority participation in decision-making process.
The participation of citizens of Russia and neighbors countries, who will be exposed to the impact from Leningrad NPP, which is regulated by the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, has not been arranged.
The electricity consumers, in fact, paid for this audit of old power units. The license will be valid for a limited period of time, after which the licensing procedure will be repeated. The same schema for lifetime extension of the old reactors will continue in 2005 for the second unit of LNPP.
Therefore, this strategic decisions important for the BBR will follow the scheme of business partnership between the State Agency for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Service and Concern RosEnergoAtom. At this both partners are economically interested in the lifetime extension of old reactors, and the society is forced to pay for this expensive process without having an opportunity to influence it.
The mechanisms for the support of lifetime extension of old NPP power units:
Tariffs for the sold electricity (now about 40% of the tariff is the investment component). And the investors (consumers of electric power) have no possibility to influence the energy policy.
Establishment of new power-intensive and environmentally-hazardous facilities like an aluminium plant or new plant for the melting scrub metal near Leningrad NPP.
The installation of the infrastructure for the export of the nuclear electricity from Leningrad NPP to Finland. The electrical cable (150 km via the bottom of the Baltic Sea) from the Russian village Kernovo (2 km to the west form Leningrad NPP) to Kotka (Finland) began to designing Russian Finnish company BaltEnergo with Siemens support. The project cost $200.000.
Closeness of the territory near Leningrad NPP and actual lack of possibilities for developing alternative business, not related to the development of nuclear (radiation) technologies, leaves only one option for the social development - lifetime extension of old reactors or building new ones. The atomic industry money makes up more than half of the budget of the nuclear city Sosnovy Bor (65.000 residents).
International programs for providing equipment to improve the LNPP safety do not improve the plant personnel safety culture, but are used by Rosenergoatom to create the "LNPP safety scenery" and justify the option of lifetime extension for old reactors. This happens in the conditions, when there is no real mechanism of public participation during the implementation of those projects. There are examples proving that the means of Western partners are used inefficiently and do not result in actual increase of safety level. It is necessary to create mechanisms of public participation involving Russian and non-Russian NGOs from the countries, which render help to the old reactors.
Obstacles to public participation:
Lack of socially-oriented analysis of lifetime extension necessity, possible alternative scenarios and mechanisms of public participation on the local and regional levels;
Closeness of the territories around NPPs for the free flow of information, social apathy of the inhabitants of the region, lack of financial resources for public participation (in the form of Public Alternative Environmental Examination) on the municipal level and on the level of the subject of the Russian federation.
Absence of a possibility for the consumers of electric power to choose energy suppliers using market mechanisms and to have an opportunity for real influence on the decision about the power industry development strategy.
The absence of the joint actions experience of the Russian, Finnish, Sweden, Norwegian and Estonian NGOs and to use Russian Federal Act "On environmental examination” of November 23, 1995 ? 174-FZ, Article 11, ”… application materials for licenses permitting the activities, which may produce an impact on the environment are subjected to the mandatory environmental examination of the federal level" (which fully applies to the activities, which are referred to as "Leningrad NPP operation") … «feasibility studies and project proposals for economic activities, which may cause environmental impact in neighboring countries, or the implementation of which will entail the use of natural resources shared by neighboring countries, or which affects the interests of neighboring countries defined in the "Convention on the environmental impact assessment in the trans-boundary context" (Espoo-Convention). This fully applies to the project on the LNPP power unit modernization. Its operation extended beyond the design lifetime will mean the continued use of dozens cubic meters of the Baltic Sea water per second for the power unit cooling. And the Baltic Sea is the natural water body shared by 9 countries of the Region.

The attempts to extend the lifetime of old reactors are taking place in the conditions, when for 30 years of their existence the problem of final disposal of spent fuel from the RBMK-1000 reactors has not been solved. Leningrad NPP keeps 4 000 t of spent nuclear fuel, the amount equivalent to 50 Chernobyls, in a temporary storage 90 m from the Baltic Sea.
According the estimation of the experts the potential energy saving in NW Russia is about 40%. It is equivalent of the total energy production of Leningrad and Kola NPPs.
The potential renewable energy production in NW Russia more than nuclear energy production in this region.

2. New harbor installations in the Eastern Gulf of Finland
Primorsk (north coast of the Gilf of Finland).
The oil transition continues in usual way. 42 million tones of oil were exported from Primorsk harbor in 2004.
Vysotsk(north coast of the Gilf of Finland).
Last year the new oil terminal (2.5 million tons a year) started in operation in Vysotsk port. Full designed oil turnover will be as much as 10.7 million tons a year.
Now a perspective plan of extention of the coal terminals in this harbor was declared. The year turnover of coal terminal will be as much as 10 million tons by 2008-2010.
The reconstruction of Vysotsk port is accompanied by bottom drugging to provive the access of big vessels (by 35 thousand tons deadweight) to the harbor.
Ust-Luga (south shore of the Gulf of Finland).
Now only coal terminal is operating. New ferry (Russia-Germany) and container terminal and port infrastructure are under construction.
Vistino – Logi (south shore of the Gulf of Finland).
On April, 28, 2005 Inter-departmental Commission for distribution of productive enterprises in Leningrad oblast (Government of Leningrad oblast) agreed to realise several investment projects, both national and international, including construction of new terminals and port infrastructure in "industrial site Gorki" (see the table below).
Among the investors both Russian and international companies present. For example "TNK-BP" (Tumen Oil Company & British Petroleum) – Russian-British joint company "Oiltanking GmbH" – German company.
According the project "site Gorki" is planned for oil, coal and liquid gas transportation. Also it is planned to construct a "Gas liquefaction plant" near Gorki Village. Gas supplies will be provided to the plant from the new 40 km branch gas pipeline Falileyevo - Gorki.
The "industrial site Gorki" is situated at the east coast of the Luga Bay near rural settlements Vistino, Logi and Gorki.
Now this region is famous for its sustainable fishery and low economical activities in comparison with east corner of the Gulf of Finland. Only one little fish processing plant in Vistino produces now canned fish, smoked sprats, herring, etc. using local fish catches from the Luga Bay and the Gulf of Finland.

Planned terminals and freight turnover in the port site "Gorki" (million tons a year)

Load character__________________________/_1st stage_/_Perspective turnover
"TNK-BP" Oil & oil products________________/_10_______/_18
Coal coal_______________________________/_10_______/_12
"North-west Alliance" Oil & oil products______/_10_______/_18
"Luga-Oil" Oil & oil products________________/_3,5______/_10
"Oiltanking-Vistino" Oil & oil products________/_7,5______/_7,5
"Gasprom" Liquid gas______________________/_10______/_15
"SG-trans" Oil gas_________________________/_1,2______/_1,2
Others Different cargoes___________________/_25_______/_25


Most part of the Luga Bay is a shallow bottom area. Deep grounds present only along the easten shore of the bay. Two new port areas, Ust-Luga port area and industrial site Gorki, are situated in short distance each other. The international Ramsar Wetland Site "Kurgalsky Peninsula" is as far as 7 km from Ust-Luga terminals. Thousands swans and other migrating birds are under threat of possible oil spills and other contaminations!
Also the intensive exploitation of the Luga Bay and the coast area will destroy fish spawning sites and hinder salmon migration in Luga River and sea area.
The hard anthropogenic intervention will promote dramatic changes in the traditional life style of Russian and Finnish (Izhora) population in this area.
Another international Ramsar Wetland Site "Beryozovy Islands" and herring spawning grounds in the Gulf of Vyborg near the port area Primorsk-Vysotsk area are threaten from tanker navigation.

More information
Oleg Bodrov, Vladimir Zimin,
NGO GREEN WORLD Chairman, NGO Green World Council member
Bodrov@sbor.net zimin@sbor.net