The members of the initiative group who oppose the construction of radioactive waste disposal under Ukhta are disappointed with the outcome of the first meeting. It became clear that regional authorities would allow for the possibility of a disposal facility in the region. A member of the group Olga Saprykina noted that she saw a strong lobby in favor of radioactive waste disposal during the meeting.
Other participants told that the conversation was difficult and emotional, but still they are glad that currently there is a compromise solution — carrying out expert examination that will determine whether conservation of waste at the site without the construction of disposal facilities is possible.
Olga Saprykina, a member of the initiative group, which opposes the construction of a burial site for radioactive waste:
“General impression was not good. What Vyacheslav Gaizer [acting head of Komi] said in Ukhta is one thing. What we’ve heard yesterday — is another. His opinion has changed due to certain circumstances. Maybe it’s his deeper understanding of the project. Maybe other circumstances. But at yesterday's meeting it never sounded that there won’t be a burial site under Ukhta. Residents of Ukhta didn’t hear that. And it was sad.
We felt that a burial site is pushed through. The Ukhta group is confused. There were not residents of Ukhta, not guests on the right hand of Vyacheslav Mikhailovich, but the committee of civil defense specialist, safety engineer of the Komi Science Center Mr. Kichigin.
Now I don’t know whom or what to believe. Yesterday all the dialogue was aimed at the thought that no other way was acceptable but the construction of a burial site. Other ways were not considered. We proposed to establish a working group to jointly develop a method of waste disposal without a burial site. But no one else except us believes that alternative, or rather doesn’t want to. A burial site is apparently profitable in Syktyvkar: scientists will defend their professorial knowledge, the government will report to Moscow on the carrying out a federal program. And 26 thousand signatures of the Ukhta residents can probably be neglected.
One thing is clear: Vyacheslav Mikhailovich has changed his mind; there will be a burial site. I believed that it wouldn’t happen. And now after they told me quite different words, I don’t know what I should tell people. I don’t know how to look them in the eye and what to say. I saw a reversal in the direction of a burial site. And those who push it through feel confident. In short, It was the last drop of trust.
Vasily Kichigin, a chief engineer of the Institute The Institute of Biology of Komi Science Center, Ural Division, Russian Academy of Sciences:
“Members of the initiative group are ignorant considering many issues. I spoke to them when they asked me for advice. They are trying to deal with the situation, reading documents, but in their own way.
There is only one way out. I’ve said in my speech that only three ways to deal with radioactive waste were tested. The first way is to leave things as they are. For example, if we take Jachymov (Czech Republic), where Curie got the first samples of radium, there is still a radio-contamination on the site of the barn, where she conducted experiments. They left things as they were there. And a tailing dump in the village of Vodny developed the same way. A large amount of waste at the plant accumulated — it disturbs, indicates radioactivity — dumped over the fence. It means that things were left as they were. That is how they treated with radioactive waste before the creation of nuclear weapons.
Then they began to dump waste into rivers — to the Columbia River in the U.S., and in our country into the Techa River in the Southern Urals. The waste of the Ukhta field was also dumped into the river. I.e. radioactive material was dispersed into the environment. This is the second method, and it is now banned. They began to prohibit it somewhere in the 50s of the last century.
Only one way is left — to isolate radioactive materials from the environment — to place into a burial site. In our case, the low-level waste, which is in Vodny, is a site of a near-surface disposal of radioactive waste.
The question of whether to build or not to build a disposal facility can’t be put. If we carry out decontamination, it is only by removing radioactive contamination into a burial site. The only question that can be discussed is its location. Residents of Ukhta didn’t like the location, we will find another. But it would be too expensive, too far away. A transportation of radioactive waste will cost a pretty penny. It is necessary to find a compromise. But I repeat — to remove waste into site or not — it's just an ignorant questioning.
Natalia Krutskikh, a member of the Public Chamber of Komi, Editor in Chief of the TV program "Day":
“The feelings of the meeting are strange. I received an invitation to the meeting very late. I learned about the time of the meeting from some other sources, as it was postponed several times.
The first suggestion that we should reduce the number of members of the working group was the right thought. Yesterday we saw that this group couldn’t work. It’s impossible to gather a group of people with diametrically opposite points of view and already spoiled relations. At one time they pressured us, tried to make us crazy, and now they are suddenly with us in one group. It is clear that personal relationships will not allow us to operate normally.
I was pleased that we were heard, that Vyacheslav Gaizer finally heard our position, agreed with it. We agreed to the fact that environmental experts who will prepare proposals will be given a task to find solutions for Vodny without construction of a burial site.
If they tell us that it is necessary to build a site, Gaizer stressed that it won’t happen within the territory of the Ukhta district. I am very glad. So I hope that an issue we have agreed about will be implemented.
Ilya Velichko, a member of the Komi State Council:
“First, I am glad that this meeting took place. Surely, there was dissidence with the group of residents of Ukhta who initiated activity against the construction of radioactive waste disposal. At the meeting, there was some misunderstanding: activists understood Vyacheslav Gayzer wrong at the meeting in Ukhta, and Vyacheslav Mikhailovich maybe somehow differently said that there would be no burial site. But, basically, yesterday everyone agreed that it is necessary to carry out an expert examination that will determine the possibility of preservation of waste without the construction of a burial site. And if the examination shows that the waste should be taken out, we need to choose another place for a site. And preferably not in the Komi Republic.
I believe that yesterday's meeting was an acquaintance of all members of the group and attempt to understand each other's goals. I still divide the working group into two parts: one of them is pro-governmental, and the other one consists of activists whom you can’t push, they have no financial interest in the project. But this group is working; its members are trying to come to a consensus. It is still manages with difficulty, but understanding is achieved.
Maxim Polyakov, «7x7»