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The deal – withdrawn by President George W Bush but resubmitted by President Barack Obama – gives the green light for storage of all nuclear waste from American power stations – 80% of the world’s total amount.
Amid the tranquillity of the forests and rivers of deepest Siberia lies the closed nuclear city of Zheleznogorsk.
Green pools next to the river are already contaminated. Construction is under way amid the silver birches on extending this plant to house an overwhelming proportion of the world’s nuclear waste.
Radioactive material is stored and reprocessed at the plant
A stone’s throw away, the inhabitants of the nearby village have little awareness of what they and future generations may face if the so called 123 agreement goes ahead.
Two and a half thousand miles away in Moscow, activists say the reality is clear – Russia is set to become an international radioactive rubbish dump.
Vladimir Chubrov, from Greenpeace, says: “Billions of dollars will go into the pockets of bureaucrats but the real Russian people will be at a massively increased risk of nuclear accidents.”
He shows us secretly obtained footage from a research facility near Russia’s other main nuclear plant in the Urals.
It’s like sending your dirty dishes to your neighbour – with one big difference – the dishes are not radioactive.
It shows horrendous images of deformed foetuses, aborted from women living in a contaminated area. It’s hard to watch.
Activists in Siberia fear the same fate may await their own environment.
Local ecologist Nikolai Zubov says: “This is a great river, one of the biggest in Russia. Rivers are the blood vessels of our planet. Why should Russia have to get the waste after someone else gets the energy?
Local ecologist Nikolai Zubov says Russia should not handle the waste
“It’s like sending your dirty dishes to your neighbour – with one big difference – the dishes are not radioactive.”
Housing such high quantities of deadly material also raises big security fears.
A video shows an activist who managed to gain access standing on the roof of the most dangerous part of the plant.
Beneath his feet, radioactive material is being stored and reprocessed.
With the so-called resetting of relations, it looks increasingly likely that this deal will go ahead.
Russia has already agreed to it – the fate of this already isolated and forgotten region now lies with Washington.Click here for reuse options!