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Friday, Apr. 12, 2002. Page 3

Activists: No Nuclear Imports

The Moscow Times

The Nuclear Power Ministry does not intend to import any spent nuclear fuel this year or in the next few years, environmentalists said Thursday after a meeting with Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev.

"The minister said that in the coming years he does not see a market for the import of spent nuclear fuel," said Ecodefense co-founder Vladimir Slivyak, who attended the meeting Wednesday along with representatives of six other environmental groups.

Rumyantsev's remarks appear to contradict earlier ministry statements that plans were going ahead to import 20,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel for storage, a scheme it estimated would earn Russia about $20 billion over 12 years.

President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial bill allowing the imports last July, despite protests from environmentalists who warned Russia would be turned into a nuclear dump.

Nuclear Power Ministry officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

"Just as we thought, no market for the import of spent nuclear fuel exists," Slivyak said.

Slivyak also said environmentalists were pleased with their talks with Rumyantsev, although the meeting took place a year after his appointment.

"We saw that the minister considers environmentalists to be a major force that will not allow him to implement many of the dubious projects thought up by his agency," Slivyak said.

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