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Orano is majority French government owned. Russia’s Rosatom is Russian government owned. These are effectively government to government nuclear deals. If Putin goes, where will France send its nuclear waste? Considering the nasty letter that Orano sent Greenpeace and Macron’s discussions with Putin, the two countries are still seemingly doing nuclear business, even as Russia threatens to blow up a nuclear power station.

In 1984, after the sinking of the cargo ship Mont-Louis off the coast of Zeebrugge (Belgium), Greenpeace discovered that this ship was carrying containers of reprocessed uranium and revealed that the French nuclear industry had been exporting nuclear waste to Russia since 1972. Greenpeace took a stand against this traffic and intervened several times until it obtained the halt of exports in 2010. In May 2018, Tenex, a subsidiary of Rosatom, announced a deal with EDF to resume exports of French reprocessed uranium to Tomsk.https://cdn.greenpeace.fr/site/uploads/2021/10/French-nuclear-waste-_-a-one-way-ticket-to-Siberia-_-Briefing-Greenpeace-France-Embargo-12-10-2021.pdf

Pompidou was President in 1972 and “furthered the French civilian nuclear programme”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Pompidou

This sending of nuclear waste in both directions looks like something sleazy may be going on: “Russia does not need Orano’s reprocessed uranium to fuel its nuclear reactors. The company has a huge stock of this material, for which it has no use… Orano sells its reprocessed uranium cheaply to the Russian company to be rid of it. In exchange, the French nuclear industry buys “new” uranium at a high price for Rosatom…

Customs records studied by Greenpeace show numerous inconsistencies in the flow of different types of uranium between France and Russia. In 2018, for example, France imported a large quantity of depleted uranium from Russia, even though 330,000 tonnes of this uranium are already piled at Pierrelatte and Bessines and this stockpile grows by 6,600 tonnes per year….”https://cdn.greenpeace.fr/site/uploads/2021/10/French-nuclear-waste-_-a-one-way-ticket-to-Siberia-_-Briefing-Greenpeace-France-Embargo-12-10-2021.pdf

Is something like the Transnuklear scandal going on?
In 1987, Mol-Dessel was in the middle of the “Transnuklear” scandal: illegal dealing in radioactive waste between German nuclear power stations and processing facilities at Mol. Instead of treating and compacting German waste and returning it to Germany, Belgian low-level waste was sent to Germany and German medium-level waste remained at Mol. Part of the German waste was in 1993 transported to the Gorleben waste storage and met with protest and blockades for several hours. (Information from Laka Foundation, 20 February 2003). http://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/mononline/nm583.pdf
What has become known as the “Transnuklear affair” revolves around the discovery of high level nuclear wastes, including plutonium, in several thousand drums designed to hold low level radioactive waste (LLW) that had been illegally shipped to German sites from the Belgian treatment plant at Mol. Investigations have uncovered a systematic embezzlement and bribery ring among high-level employees of companies in Germany and Belgium that generate, transport, condition, and store nuclear waste. Some US$11.6 million in illicit payments, subsequently laundered in Swiss banks, has been documented. Two of the organizers of the ring have (apparently) committed suicide. Investigative journalists have also charged that the Transnuklear affair involved diversion, from the Nuclear Research Centre at Mol, of weapons-grade nuclear material which was shipped to Pakistan through the German port of Lubeck. These charges are still under investigation… The TN scandal comes on top of the 1985 conviction of German businessman Albrecht Migule for smuggling from Germany to Pakistan an entire plant for converting uranium to uranium hexafluoride.” See: “A Nuclear Watergate: West Germany’s “Transnuklear Affair” June 1, 1988 https://www.scienceforpeace.org/post/a-nuclear-watergate-west-germany-s-transnuklear-affair
See too: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2019/02/10/proliferation-profiteers-part-13-firm-1-belgonucleaire-sa-belgium/

Exposed: French nuclear companies dumping radioactive waste in Siberia
Greenpeace European Unit
Paris / Brussels, 12 October 2021 – Greenpeace activists today laid fifteen metal drums featuring a radioactive symbol in front of the headquarters of Orano, a French nuclear fuel company, in protest against the dumping of French nuclear waste at an unsafe site in Seversk, Siberia. The protest comes as a new investigation by Greenpeace France has revealed that exports of nuclear waste to Russia have restarted after an eleven-year hiatus.[1]

New satellite images from Seversk show thousands of barrels lying outdoors exposed to the elements. The practice of exporting radioactive waste from the EU to a third country is subject to strict conditions, including the safety and proper management of the destination facility. [2]

The revelations that exports of French nuclear waste to Russia have restarted come shortly after ministers from ten EU countries, including France, wrote an op-ed in several European newspapers calling for the inclusion of nuclear energy in the EU’s guidelines for green investments, the “EU taxonomy”. [3] 

Roger Spautz, nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace France and Luxembourg , said: “For the French nuclear industry to resume this kind of irresponsible overseas dumping is proof that there is no sustainable solution to the ever-growing problem of radioactive waste. Giving dangerous nuclear energy a green label in the EU taxonomy will make the waste problem worse, and actively divert investments away from real solutions like energy savings, energy storage and renewables.”

A key principle of the taxonomy is that any activity must “do no significant harm” to the environment in order to be included as “sustainable”. The European Commission will open a public consultation in the coming weeks on the issue of whether nuclear energy should be included in the taxonomy. 

President Emmanuel Macron is also expected to announce funding today for so-called “small modular nuclear reactors” as part of his “France 2030” investment package. 


The investigation by Greenpeace France reveals that, in January and February 2021, the nuclear fuel company Orano shipped hundreds of tonnes of spent uranium to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy firm.

Activists in the port of Le Havre, Normandy, witnessed the loading of radioactive material onto a ship bound for St. Petersburg. From there, the waste continued by train to a dumping facility in the city of Seversk, Siberia, formerly known as Tomsk-7. Greenpeace has seen no evidence that the management of the Seversk site has improved since 2010, when Orano (then named Areva) admitted that environmental concerns were a factor in its decision to cease exporting uranium there. [4]

Orano confirmed the new shipments in an email to Greenpeace France. EDF, France’s largest nuclear energy provider, also signed a similar deal with Rosatom in 2018, but does not appear to have carried out any such shipments yet. Both companies are largely owned by the French state.

Notes to the editors 
[1] Greenpeace France, 12 October 2021, “French Nuclear Waste: a One-way Ticket to Siberia”https://cdn.greenpeace.fr/site/uploads/2021/10/French-nuclear-waste-_-a-one-way-ticket-to-Siberia-_-Briefing-Greenpeace-France-Embargo-12-10-2021.pdf
[2] In particular, Article 4 of Council Directive 70/2011/EURATOM.
[3] La Libre Belgique, 10 October 2021, “Ten EU members publish pro-nuclear op-ed” 
[4] In 2010 Areva (now Orano) stopped the export of radioactive waste to Russia following a public outcry over the environmental impact at the Seversk site. See: Rue89 / Le Nouvel Observateur, 28 May 2010, “Areva stops export of radioactive waste to Russia” (In French)

Areva S.A. became wholly state-owned by the French government, remaining responsible only for the liabilities related to the Olkiluoto 3 project in Finland and holding a 40% stake in Orano”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areva
Orano owernship: “Government of France (45.2%), CEA (4.8%), Areva SA (40%), JNFL (5%), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (5%)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orano In short, Orano is 90% French government owned. The balance is owned by Japan.

Majority French state owned Orano sent a nasty letter to Greenpeace denying that their business with Russian government owned Rosatom-Tenex nuclear is related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “With regard more particularly to the Rosatom group, you are aware that Orano has historically maintained commercial relations with Tenex, like all of the world’s nuclear players. These marginal activities, both for Orano and for Tenex, have no connection whatsoever with the actions of the Russian army in Ukraine.” This Orano statement ignores the entire moral basis of sanctions against oil and gas, etc. Orano even denies that Rosatom being at Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station has anything to do with their business deals. This sort of nasty hypocrisy has been typical in France for decades. During the run up to the first Gulf War (1990), while France was sending its young men to do their obligatory year of military service fighting in Iraq, French companies were still selling weapons to Saddam. Orano’s apparent lawyer Yann Guilbaud (“Directeur Juridique Groupe”) has the unmitigated gall to accuse Greenpeace of not being serious (a typical French tactic meant to bully the adversary into submission and normally accompanied with arm-flailing) when, in fact, it’s France-Orano who “aren’t serious” about sanctions or anything but two-faced hypocrisy and greed, as evidenced in the letter. En effet la France n’est plus serieuse: https://www.orano.group/fr/actus/actualites-du-groupe/2022/juin/reponse-d-orano-a-greenpeace
Yann Guilbaud worked for Veolia from 1998-2009. He was associated with France Telecom from 1991-94. https://fr.linkedin.com/in/yann-guilbaud-2b268828

France’s 40 Million Euro-$44 Million Nuclear Project with Russia