Demonstrators in Russia insisted on righting pervasive nuclear defects

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Activists across Russia used the 26th anniversary of the disaster at Chernobyl to spotlight ongoing problems in the country’s ailing nuclear industry - many of which demonstrators say could lead to a Chernobyl two as government and industry officials persistently ignore the lessons of Fukushima.

In Moscow, activists gathered outside the headquarters of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, demanding that dangerous high-power reactor experiments at Murmansk’s Kola Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) cease, and that Chernobyl-style RBMK 1000 reactors, 11 of which still function in Russia, be taken off the grid.

This also was the call of the local Murmansk activist organization Nature and Youth (Priroda I Molodezh), which gathered on a central square in that city to demand a cease to lifespan extensions for the aged reactors at Kola NPP and the planned power-boosting experiment at Kola’s No. 4 reactor. Engineers plan to run the reactor at 107 percent its design capacity.

Activists gathered in Moscow unfurled banners reading "Save the world from the peaceful atom," and passed out leaflets pointing out that the design of the RMBK 1000 reactor is fatally flawed and that the cause of the accident was due to an experiment to see how the plant would operate if it lost power.

The leaflets noted that "Rosatom continues to behave as if Chernobyl or Fukushima never took place. This irresponsible policy is dangerous and can lead to new accidents." They noted that Leningrad NPP, Kursk NPP, and Smolensnk NPP all continued to operate RBMK-1000 reactors, and that despite recent efforts to improve their design, they "must be stopped as soon as possible to avoid a repeat of the Chernobyl scenario." Instead, they said, Rosatom was handing out engineered lifespan extensions for these reactors. According to Andrey Ozharovsky, Rosatom is running 18 reactors at five NPPs on extended engineered lifespans - seven of which are of the RBMK type.

"Russia should stop financing Rosatom and the funds should be put toward the use of environmentally clean renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tidal power," said Yaroslav Nikitenko from Russia’s Habitat (Sreda Obitanie) group. "Our country is lagging behind in this first of all because huge government funding is spent on supporting the nuclear industry."

Moscow protesters sent an appeal to the Russian government to "stop believing the fairy tales about the benefits of nuclear energy and adopt a gradual program systematically decreasing Russia’s dependence on nuclear power."

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