Activists mobilise online against the import of German uranium waste to Russia

May 21, 2020

In the fall of 2019, environmentalists revealed nuclear and toxic waste (uranium hexafluoride, UF6) was being imported from Germany to Russia. In response, Russian Social-Ecological Union, Ecodefense and Greenpeace Russia called on Russian organizations, movements and activists to protest against the import of foreign nuclear waste. More than 30 organisations responded to the call for action.

Since then, protests have taken place in different cities across Russia, Germany and the Netherlands. In November 2019, activists blocked a train traveling from Germany to Amsterdam, and the a ship traveling from there to Russia, carrying 600 tons of uranium hexafluoride. Early in 2020, protests forced the stop of a transshipment carrying nuclear waste in the port of St. Petersburg, holding up the delivery for three months. However in March 2020 the movement restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic meant that in-person protests came to a halt. Authorities took advantage of the restrictions and the import of radioactive waste resumed through the port of Ust-Luga in Leningrad Region.

The inability to gather and protest in person hasn’t stopped activists from mobilising online. Organizations and residents of the Leningrad region joined environmental and human rights groups and movements to oppose the nuclear waste shipment in a digital action. Images of activists holding signs reading “No uranium tails!” and “Russia is not a dump!” flooded social media. Activists of the Public Council of the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland joined the protests, calling on their supporters for an online flash mob and Greenpeace Russia activists held an online zoom rally.

The Mikhail Dudin ship was expected to deliver hazardous waste from Germany to the port of Ust-Luga on Tuesday morning, May 12, but was delayed on its way and arrived two days later.

Activists from Leningrad region have been able to document the loading and departure of transshipments in the port of Ust-Luga which has enabled activists in Novouralsk, Sverdlovsk region to protest on arrival.

Despite the current Covid-19 movement restrictions, RSEU, “Ecodefense!” and Greenpeace Russia will continue to find creative ways to protest against the import of nuclear waste.

Russia will not be a dumping ground for global nuclear waste!

For more information contact:
Vitaly Servetnik,
Russian Social-Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia