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Germany: Activists protest Russian uranium deliveries

September 12, 2022

Environmentalists have demanded an end to the transport of Russian nuclear fuel through Germany. Berlin said it had "no legal grounds" to prevent an expected delivery.

Protest signs that read, "No money for Putin's war" and "Nuclear power? no thank you."
"Nuclear energy? No thanks" has been the rallying cry of German environmentalists for decades Image: Lars Klemmer/dpa/picture alliance

Environmental activists on Monday protested in front of a fuel element factory in Germany where a Russian uranium shipment was set to arrive. 

The Russian ship Mikhail Dudin was expected to arrive at the Rotterdam port Sunday evening, and the uranium was to be transported by truck on Monday to a plant in Lingen, near the German-Dutch border.

Protesters demanded an "immediate stop to nuclear deals with Russia," according to a statement published by a citizen initiative.  

Among the protesters was Vladimir Slivyak, a prominent Russian environmentalist. 

"Stop cooperation with Russian regime, sanction Russian state nuclear company Rosatom!" he wrote on Twitter. 

"Rosatom has an active role in the Ukraine war: coordinating Russian troops in the occupation of nuclear power plants — very specifically in Zaporizhzhia," Slivyak said in a statement, referring to Europe's largest nuclear plant

Slivyak's group, Ecodefense, and other environmental organizations called on European countries to end uranium procurement from Russia. They cited a recent move by the British government to prevent the Mikhail Dudin ship from offloading nuclear waste near Liverpool. 

Germany not blocking shipment

The German government cannot stop the shipment of Russian uranium from being processed in Lingen, an Environment Ministry spokesperson said on Monday. 

Berlin said that was because European Union sanctions against Russia did not cover fuel. 

"We have no legal grounds to prevent the transport of uranium from Russia, because the sanctions imposed by the EU due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine exempt the import of nuclear fuel, like Russian gas, to the EU from import bans," Environment Ministry spokesman Andreas Kübler told reporters in Berlin.

A German government spokesperson said earlier that Berlin was reviewing whether sanctions need expansion, but did not specify if it would push for an EU-wide ban on nuclear fuel imports from Russia.

Kübler also said that the shipment was in line with safety requirements. 

"You can imagine that we view such uranium shipments very critically due to the Russian invasion, but also because of Germany's exit from nuclear in general,'' Kübler said.

Germany has been phasing out nuclear energy since 2011. Three remaining plants were due to go offline at the end of 2022, but the government recently announced that two would remain online for a few weeks amid an energy crisis brought on by dwindling supplies of Russian gas.

The Lingen plant is operated by French company Framatome. It produces fuel elements for nuclear power generation, supplying plants in Belgium, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Sweden and Finland.

France's looming energy crisis

fb/wd (AP, dpa, EPD)

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