Geologists and other experts have long said that the salt deposit near the River Elbe is unsuitable because it has contact with ground water and aquifers.
The local opponents argue that with every shipment of more waste to the Gorleben concrete hall right next to the salt mine, the likelihood grows of the salt becoming the final repository, as favoured by industry which leans heavily on the conservative politicians leading the coalition government with Social Democrats.
About 200 demonstrators against nuclear energy on Friday delivered 630,000 signatures to the European Commission to protest against the use of nuclear energy in Europe and against the Euratom treaty that was signed in Rome 50 years ago.
The European Union will spend 2,751 million euros on nuclear activities in its research funding from this year until 2013 although at least two member countries, Germany and Sweden, have pledged to drop nuclear power production and another, Austria, has banned it, and although a majority of people in the 27 member countries oppose nuclear power.
Althoff writes in his release that more highly radioactive waste is to be transported from the processing plant at Sellafield in northern England to the Gorleben interim storage hall than Germany originally sent there in the form of spent fuel rods.
A six-member Gorleben delegation took part in Brussels in a two-day hearing in the EU Parliament marking the 50th anniversary of the EURATOM treaty and protests at the symbolic Atomium building.
The EURATOM treaty forces even EU countries without nuclear power stations to contribute money to promoting the use of nuclear power generation make and there was even talk of making it part of the EU constitution, says Althoff.
At the invitation of the non-partisan Member of the European Parliament, Tobias Pflüger, Althoff addressed a hearing in the house on the EU’s final repository plans.
He said there have long been multinational repositories in the EU. “If Gorleben were to start operating it would be an international repository because of substitution treaties already in place.”
”In this case the term substitution simply stands for a multinational atomic waste deal,” Althoff writes. “It is agreed, for example, that more highly radioactive waste is to be transported from the processing plant at Sellafield in northern England to the Gorleben interim storage hall than Germany originally sent there in the form of spent fuel rods.
“The deal is that in return the low level and medium level radioactive waste is to be shallowly buried under catastrophic conditions in the Drigg final repository near Sellafield.
“Similar contracts have been prepared with the plutonium factory at La Hague in northern France.”
The spokesman of the Gorleben activists hopes to find out with a letter to the German environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, from which countries the additional highly active waste for Gorleben originates.
He’s also invited the minister again to visit the Gorleben area and address people’s concerns there. Gabriel declined a previous invitation citing prior commitments.
In his Brussels address Althoff also referred to other preparations for multinational final repositories for the EU.
For example, a research project launched by the EU, titled SAPIERR (for Support Action Pilot Initiative for European Regional Repositories) has been working since 2004 on a scenario for asserting a multinational atomic waste dump.
Funded mainly from the Sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Development, which will be followed by a seventh this year, SAPIERR calculates the present and future stock of nuclear waste and investigates legal frame conditions for a joint multinational final repository location.
“One of the favoured locations is already Russia,” Althoff reports. “Already in 2001 the Russian parliament made a law to allow the import of highly radioactive spent fuel rods.
“In 2003, for example, the uranium mines and uranium processing location Krasnokamensk, 7,000 km east of Moscow were suggested as an international final repository for highly radioactive atomic waste,” Althoff notes.
For the catastrophic conditions under which waste from Germany and other countries is disposed in Siberia, see http://de.indymedia.org/2007/02/167406.shtml and (in German) http://germany.indymedia.org/2007/03/170971.shtml.
Althoff writes that in addition to Gorleben other EU locations are “randomly” being considered. “At the start of this decade the EU declared that its member states should move forward faster with their waste disposal programmes.
“It was posited at the same time that in this sector initially the only way forward for small countries is cooperation,” Althoff continues.
Accordingly it had formulated its suggestion for a EURATOM directive of the European Council (the top decision-making body in the bloc) on the disposal of spent fuel and radioactive wastes.
In article 4 of the draft of the directive it initially kept open for member states with a small volume of waste the possibility of importing or exporting radioactive wastes for environmental, security or economic reasons, under adherence to Directive 92/3 EURATOM.
The European Parliament had already earlier passed a resolution on the same subject.
“Interestingly,” notes Althoff, “later the most likely reasons, namely the purely economic aspect, are no longer mentioned. Instead is inserted that to a not inconsiderable part the interest had to be ascribed to the growing ‘concern about terrorist threats’.”
On the legal frame conditions necessary for multinational final repositories the Gorleben spokesman noted in the Brussels hearing:
“Importation of radioactive materials is allowed in many EU countries, especially those with atomic reactors. With the exception of Finland, exportation is legal in all EU states.
“There are no legal hindrances, either, in regard to permissions for atomic waste to transit through countries that might be affected by transports through their territory to and from a multinational repository in a neighbouring country.
“When governing politicians speak of a ‘national task’ in the final storage of nuclear waste, according to the present status of the substitution treaties and the possible consequences of the SAPIERR project it is worse than sleazy,” the Gorleben spokesman commments.
“There is no safe final storage. Instead of pumping millions into what have been proved to be unsuitable sites like Gorleben in Germany or Bure in France, the nuclear exit is overdue,” Althoff said.
On the day after the hearing the Gorleben delegation took part with a banner saying "Stop EURATOM, No Nuclear Constitution" in colourful protests near the Brussels landmark, the Atomium, a building in the shape of an atom.
Together with the international protest delegation they then took part in the handing over of the signatures.
See also http://germany.indymedia.org/2007/03/171772.shtml, Protest against EU's doubling atomic spending: The European Union will spend 2,751 million euros on nuclear activities in its research funding from this year until 2013 although at least two member countries, Germany and Sweden, have pledged to drop nuclear power production and another, Austria, has banned it.
Other reports on the Brussels action at http://www.eux.tv/article.aspx?articleId=5248 and http://www.eux.tv/article.aspx?articleId=5248
The people to contact:
Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow Dannenberg
Postal and physical address: Drawehner Str. 3 29439 Lüchow
Tel: #49 5841-4684 Fax: 3197
Press spokesman: Francis Althoff 05843 986789