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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Asked to Cut Red Tape for Foreigners at Nuclear Sites


Murmansk Governor Yury Yevdokimov

Murmansk Governor Yury Yevdokimov appealed to President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to ease the regulations for granting foreigners access to nuclear waste sites, Interfax reported.

Putin responded that the state had to find a balance between excessive bureaucracy and protecting national security.

Yevdokimov told a meeting of the advisory State Council, over which Putin was presiding, that local rather than federal authorities should decide on giving foreigners access to nuclear facilities, Interfax said.

"Nobody is going to show anything excessive to foreigners," he was quoted as saying.

Putin agreed that "excessive bureaucratization of these issues and obsessive spy mania only interfere with the work," Interfax reported.

However, he added that it was necessary to "ensure national security interests and maintain the necessary secrecy regime."

The Murmansk region includes the Kola Peninsula, which environmentalists call one of the most polluted places on Earth because of the amount of nuclear waste.

There are more than 100 nuclear submarines at Northern Fleet bases on the peninsula, where northwestern Russia borders Norway. The Norwegian-based environmental group Bellona says about 21,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies are stored there and many of the containers are leaking.

Murmansk is heavily dependent on foreign funding to clean up the pollution -- the Norwegian government alone is financing three projects to recycle spent nuclear fuel -- but the Defense Ministry and security agencies are loathe to let foreigners enter the sites.

Andrei Zolotkov, a Bellona activist in Murmansk, said that security officials had prohibited a delegation from the European Parliament from visiting all but one nuclear waste reprocessing site -- and the delegation was allowed to see the site only from afar.

"It's a Soviet syndrome," Zolotkov said in a telephone interview. "They don't want to show the negative."