19 September 2021, Sunday, 21:15
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New Scandal around BelNPP: Is Lukashenka Making a “Dirty” Bomb?

New Scandal around BelNPP: Is Lukashenka Making a “Dirty” Bomb?

The well-known physicist advised contacting the international structures for the control of nuclear weapons.

On July 22, at a meeting with the "Council of Ministers," Lukashenka raised the issue of utilization and storage of radioactive waste and declared that it was "a most valuable product."

Charter97.org asked Russian nuclear physicist Andrei Ozharovsky how “valuable” this product is:

- If it were a valuable product, there would be a demand and a market for it. People would compete for the possession of such a product, as for natural gas or oil. Waste cannot be a valuable product. The problem of radioactive waste has not been resolved. If by this shocking statement Lukashenka wants to say that he is ready to consider radioactive waste as a product, as well as to import it, then this is a very bad signal.

We went through this in Russia, when in the early 2000s we tried to make Russia a place for the import of radioactive waste from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. Even the country's legislation was changed to allow the disposal of one type of radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel. Thanks to protests and an international campaign, this did not take place, that is, Russian legislation allows the import of this type of waste, but no contracts were concluded with other countries.

There is a politician Viktor Karankevich, who said that "it is really necessary to ensure the storage of radioactive waste." Most likely, not only storage is required, but also repositories, places of permanent disposal of radioactive waste.

I would advise you to really start researching the best technologies that do not exist and make a decision that producing radioactive waste in this situation is extremely irresponsible behavior. It is because of the insolvency of the problem of radioactive waste that many countries have decided to abandon nuclear energy. For Germany, this was one of the important points, of course, after economic inefficiency, the risk of radioactive accidents and reactor explosions.

So the leadership of Belarus needs to be aware of the scale of the problem, created by their own hands. After all, when a nuclear power plant is operating, it produces this waste every second. The sooner they understand this, the more soberly they will assess what they have done, succumbing to pressure from Rosatom and agreeing to build an expensive and dangerous nuclear power plant unnecessary for the country's economy.

- The dictator demanded to create a system for storing BelNPP waste on the territory of Belarus. How dangerous is radioactive waste? What problems may the future generation face because of the "radioactive burial sites" on the territory of the country?

- There are dozens of types and kinds of radioactive waste. Here we are talking about solid radioactive waste. In the short term, when the waste is in containers, in special storages, then they do not pose a danger. They will pose a danger in the long term, since engineering structures do not allow, with existing technologies, to reliably isolate hazardous substances from the environment for the entire period.

I can cite Russian examples, projects for the disposal of permanent radioactive waste. New projects that are now going to be built - the notorious plant Mayak, Seversky, and others at other enterprises of Rosatom. The official documents say that concrete structures can begin to leak as early as 100 years after the end of their filling. Of course, by this time some radionuclides will decay, but, for example, cesium - the concentration will decrease, but it will still be dangerous.

As a matter of fact, I will immediately mention that this is not only a Russian or Belarusian problem. Now the world has adopted such an approach so as not to build permanent accommodation sites but to lay engineering solutions in the design of the repository that will allow the future generation to extract hazardous substances if new technologies appear when something goes wrong. This means that the future generation will have to deal with this problem in some way.

I repeat, the main problem with radioactive waste is its long-term nature. Their quantity will grow with every day of operation of the nuclear power plant, and a huge number of containers, concrete structures, will go into disrepair.

I know that in Russia there are many leaking burial grounds, for example, the burial ground of the first nuclear power plant. It was flooded with water, and radioactive substances were washed out into the environment. The burial grounds are leaking - this is a global problem.

- Lukashenka also said that he would use "nuclear waste from the operation of ionizing radiation sources" in the defense sector. Does this mean that the Belarusian authorities want to create nuclear weapons?

- May I not comment on Lukashenka’s statements on the military use of peaceful nuclear energy. We said in the "Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign" that, unfortunately, in such conditions, it is possible that nuclear energy will be used as a trampoline for military purposes. Not necessarily a classic atomic bomb, but it could be a dirty one. It seems to me that this statement should be sent to the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Let them give a political assessment.