Russia’s laborious delivery of uranium to Europe

September 14, 2022 at 9:45 am,
Updated on September 14, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Reading time: 4 minutes

Nuclear energy

Berlin (Germany), letter

Everything is ready for the shipment to arrive Mikhail Dudin in the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Sunday 11 September. Loaded with Russian uranium, the ship, which came from Saint Petersburg, received the necessary approval from the Dutch authorities. Trucks were hired to carry its precious cargo on the three-hour journey. Destination: the Lingen nuclear fuel fabrication plant in northern Germany. The site is operated by ANF (Advanced Nuclear Fuels), a subsidiary of French nuclear giant Framatome.

But the plan did not come true. At the last moment, approaching Rotterdam, the Mikhail Dudin suddenly put to sea to proceed to Dunkirk (North), where he finally landed the next day, before noon. There, uranium was loaded on September 13 under police escort into five trucks, according to on-site observations by Greenpeace France. At least two were headed to Germany on Tuesday afternoon.

Why make such a detour of several hundred kilometers ? When contacted, Framatome declined to answer questions from Reporter. There is a lot of opacity in the sector », regretted Pauline Boyer, spokeswoman for Greenpeace France. In Germany, a hypothesis is circulating. The turning of Dunkirk was probably due to our demonstrations »development of Alexander Vent, of the collective of the antinuclear association of Lingen AgiEL.

The delivery of Russian uranium to Dunkirk, September 13, 2022. © Greenpeace

Across the Rhine, if the production of electricity from nuclear power has to stop completely within a few months, the production of radioactive fuel will remain authorized. However, since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the question of the source of uranium to supply fuel factories is very sensitive.

And for good reason: the twenty barrels of Mikhail Dudin sent by JSC Techsnabexport Tenex, a subsidiary of the Russian state company Rosatom, was founded in 2007 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Lingen, this heavy metal, in the form of uranium hexafluoride, is able to produce fuel for Western European nuclear power stations. The Framatome plant delivers mainly to France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden and Finland.

How can France continue to trade with Russia? ? »

For us, all the warning signs are red. How can France continue to trade with Russia? ? » complained Alexander Vent. His collective organized a demonstration on Monday in front of the factory, which was strongly reported by the German press. No gas, but uranium instead »mocked on Sunday every week Zeit will diein reference to the cessation of gas deliveries to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

This shipment also shows Europe’s reliance on Russian uranium », explained Alexander Vent. Rosatom directly supplies eighteen nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe and Finland with fuel, in addition to commercial relations with Framatome: the two nuclear giants signed an long-term strategic cooperation agreement » in December 2021.

The current delivery of uranium to Russia is part of a set of thirty-five allowed for the Lingen plant, in April 2021, by the German Agency for the Safety of Nuclear Waste (Base). You can imagine that we view these uranium shipments very critically because of the Russian invasion, but also the nuclear exit of Germany in general. »said Andreas Kübler, spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Environment, in a press conference on Monday.

There is no question of its opposition to the absence of a European embargo on Russian uranium, unlike oil and coal. We have no legal reason to prevent the transport of uranium from Russia », explains Andreas Kübler. Under pressure from Germany, Framatome and Rosatom canceled their joint venture project at the Lingen site, which included raising the capital of the Russian state company to the tune of 25 %.

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