The German government’s hands are tied and it has no choice but to permit the shipment of Russian uranium en route to French nuclear plants simply because the European Union’s sanctions on Russia do not cover atomic fuel.
A shipment of uranium aboard the Russian ship Mikhail Dudin is currently docked in the Fench port of Dunkirk and is on the way to a processing plant in Lingen, near the German-Dutch border.
Environmentalists have appealed to Germany and the Netherlands to block the shipment, but Germany, through Andreas Kuebler, a spokesman for the Environment Ministry, said that they will not be able to block the shipment.
“We have no legal grounds to prevent the transport of uranium from Russia because the sanctions imposed by the EU due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine exempt the import of nuclear fuel … to the EU from import bans,” Kuebler told reporters in Berlin. He also added that the Russian shipment passed all safety requirements, implying that German authorities had no choice but to approve it.
“You can imagine that we view such uranium shipments very critically due to the Russian invasion, but also because of Germany’s exit from nuclear in general,” he added. The spokesman also said that Russia is not the only source of uranium, and pointed out that Canada could be a “possibility.”
Germany has been working to phase out nuclear power since 2011, and originally planned to have its three remaining plants go offline at the end of the year. Earlier in September, the government confirmed that they will keep two plants online until April next year as Europe grapples with an energy crisis from the dwindling supply of Russian gas.
Unlike Germany, France is heavily dependent on nuclear power for its energy needs. The plant in Lingen is operated by Framatome, a company majority-owned by French energy giant EDF. The energy giant operates all of France’s nuclear plants and is majority-owned by the French government.
On Monday, anti-nuclear activists staged a protest near the processing plant in Lingen.
The protest featured placards saying “No money for Putin’s war.”
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