Greenpeace denounces France’s uranium exports to Russia

PARIS (AP) – Six Greenpeace activists blocked a railway line in southern France on Tuesday, saying they were seeking to prevent the export of reprocessing uranium charges to Russia.

The tracks on which the militants stood are located in the town of Pierrelatte just outside a factory in Orano where radioactive materials are processed and stored.

Orano, a French-based multinational, said Russian state nuclear company Rosatom has a contract to purchase 1,150 tonnes of reprocessed uranium that it plans to convert into nuclear fuel at its plant in Seversk, Siberia, and ultimately to use it in reactors to produce energy.

The material is expected to be sent in multiple shipments, Orano said.

“We deplore the lack of transparency (…) when it comes to what happens to nuclear waste once in Siberia,” said Roger Spautz, head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign in France. Any uranium conversion at the Seversk plant “leaves at least 85% of the original material unused” in Russia’s hands, he said in a statement.

Greenpeace wants France to treat reprocessed uranium and nuclear waste on its own territory.

The environmental group’s action follows President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement this month that France has been considering building its first new nuclear reactors in decades as part of efforts to meet its global warming emissions reduction targets of the planet.

France relies heavily on nuclear power, but its reactors are aging and its next-generation reactors are years behind.

Nuclear power produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal, oil or gas, but nuclear power plants are expensive to build and produce radioactive waste that remains deadly for tens of thousands of years . Politicians are divided over whether nuclear power should be included in global plans to reduce carbon emissions.

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