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A dialogue with A. Nitkin from Bellona versus

My response to Alexander Nitkin`s interesting and provocative article from Bellona on Russian anti nuclear activists strategies and engagement with the Russian nuclear industry (Found n the comments section.)

Hi Charles and Alexander.. Just thought I would wade in with some thoughts.
As an anti nuclear activist and blogger of one of the biggest anti nuke sites in the west (about 30 percent of our readers are nuclear workers), I can see where you are coming from. However, this article does not really look into the issues of how might an anti nuclear group or individual might challenge the “voluminous response” that comes from a well organised and well funded nuclear industry.

First, their is a need for education that can sometimes be complex and time consuming. This can be achieved by the dissemination of thoughts and ideas via the blogs and internet forums.

However, in my experience on a global outlook there are many pressures that stop discourse because nuclear industry workers are not allowed to challenge the status quo and activists are targeted by security services. That means it is up to a hand full of individuals (mostly or entirely non paid) to look into the technical issues and find a way of talking plainly to all.

For instance, at the moment there are some real challenges to the nuclear industry such as the financial and safety issues. The industry covers many of these issues up using groups like the IAEA, ICRP, WPP LLC (The Japanese subsidiary is DENTSU) and a host of Nuclear Health Physicists (well paid and organised) and then there is UNSCEAR where these groups meet and challenge one another n a technical basis (CRIIRAD, ACRO, SAFECAST etc on the soft anti nuclear side) .

Civil societies anti nuclear movement in some countries have Greenpeace on their side (France and Germany) and many others do not (Norway, UK, Ireland etc) . And then there are people like me with quite a reasonable knowledge.

Amongst the voluminous material are some points that get overlooked such as the ICRP dose model that does not explain the effects health effects thoroughly in Chernobyl, Semipalantisk, Fukushima etc ..

You might be aware of Watanabes etc study that trashes the ICRP dose models basic science but there is no real discussion on these anomalies and that is why people like John Simpson have disregarded the NHP from the pentagon that had the “voluminous” material thing happen on his report on Fallujah but he decided to forward with the evidence he could see in front of him instead of all that statistical modeling. If I lived in Mayak and was getting all the reassurances that come from the likes of Richard Wakeford and Geraldine Thomas I would be flipping furious as well btw.

When the nuclear industry decides to admit that the real on the ground evidence should be taken into account with the statistical modelling and not ignored because of unknown “viruses” etc then I think we all can sit down and have that love in that would achieve results for all concerned. It is not good enough to have an industry that allows damage that we see in Flint Michigan with lead Pb because of the need for profit and whilst the nuclear industry uses the founding ideals of Euratom (1957 unchanged) as a basis for todays nuclear industry that allows cancers (whilst ignoring all other effects) because of potential net social and profit orientated benefits based on the 1950`s situation. In fact all potentially polluting industries worldwide should take note!
My fingers are bleeding and I await your request for evidence of my position on the nuclear industry (Russia works closely with the western industry on health effects at least ie the flawed ICRP dose model)
Merry Christmas Shaun

This comment is on the comments section at our long time friends at

Who’s to blame and what to do? Rosatom and the No Nukes movement

The relationship between Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and environmental groups has never been stable: Opposition, mistrust, non-transparency and antagonism – the mutual accusations have rained down from both sides. But Rosatom’s transparency has led to schism – a crisis – within Russian environmental organizations themselves. More here;


December 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona joins other anti nuclear non profit groups – no longer NGO, harassed by Russian govt

6ceed-japan-government-officially-censors-truth-about-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-disasterflag_RussiaTwo decades of legal harassment dissolve Bellona Murmansk as a Russian NGO – but it will continue its work, Bellona,  October 12, 2015 by  Twenty years ago this month, Bellona’s still nascent offices in Murmansk were raided by the FSB, the successor organization to the Soviet KGB, setting in motion a legal Rube Goldberg machine that led to treason allegations against the Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin, and charges against the Bellona itself.

In those two decades, Nikitin beat his espionage wrap, and Bellona Murmansk became a vital force in attracting international funding for dismantling Russia’s nuclear naval legacy and spearheading renewable energy efforts on Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

But, the group again faces a vague future after it was declared in March to be a “foreign agent” by Russia’s Justice Ministry, showing that official spy-mania directed against non-profit groups demanding transparency on nuclear and environmental issues is again on an upswing.

On Monday, it surfaced that the group would be forced to stop operating as an NGO, and group chairman Andrei Zolotkov confirmed that Bellona Murmansk was “at a cross roads” and that its eventual liquidation as a non-profit had been announced as early as April.

Bellona Executive Director Nils Bøhmer confirmed Monday that as of Monday Bellona Murmansk is no longer a Russian non-profit, but would still continue its present functions under different auspices. Continue reading

October 26, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, Russia | Leave a comment

Bellona Murmansk roundtable takes on region’s most pressing environmental issues


Published on May 28, 2014 by

Charles Digges translated and contributed to this article

MURMANSK – Legislative and executive representatives acknowledge the important role of environmental organizations in solving environmental issues, specifically industrial pollution. Ecologists, though, remain frustrated by the disinterest of industry to invest in the environmental sphere, and say their involvement should be a two way street.

Bellona yesterday arranged a roundtable discussion in Murmansk for non-profit organizations operating in the Barents Region to swap experience working toward solutions over industrial waste and cooperation with polluters, legislative and other government authorities and environmental monitoring agencies.

“By initiating an open discussion on such pressing problems for the whole Barents region, we were confident that the interest of many NGOs and monitoring agencies would be piqued,” said Larisa Bronder, an adviser on pollution issues with Bellona’s Oslo office who was in attendance in Murmansk.

Conference participants were surprised by the level of enthusiasm shown by the regional divisions of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Murmansk Parliament’s Environmental Committee to addressing these long-thorny issues. Less surprisingly, the Federal Service for Natural Resource Usage, or Rosprirodnadzor, again turned a cold shoulder on entering a dialogue with environmentalists.

Role of environmental organizations cannot be overestimated

Nataliya Leschinskaya, head of the Murmansk Parliament’s environmental committee – whose mandate includes liaising with local environmental groups – NGO and public involvement involvement in deciding environmental issues is critical.

“The role of non-governmental organizations in the decision of environmental problems is very important,” she told the round table. “I know first hand that solving ecological issues can only be done in consultation with the public. And I would like to thank all environmental organizations with whom we try to pursue effective cooperation in solving the regions problems.” She added that the environmental movement is particularly strong in Murmansk.

She enumerated numerous projects the regional parliament is discussing with environmentalists, among them safe oil transport, nuclear and radiation safety, development of Murmansk’s transport infrastructure, creation of the Khibin National Park, and others.

Renata Khardikova, a representative of Murmansk’s Regional Ministry of Natural Resources, cooperation between authorities and NGOs is an important tool in addressing environmental problems.

Environmentalists say official efforts fall short

That said the environmentalists themselves aired a laundry list of hurdles to their meaningful cooperation with authorities and environmental monitoring agencies.

According to Viktor Petrov, acting director of the Kola Center for the Defense of Nature (in Russian), there are no reciprocating mechanisms for cooperation with NGOs.

“There are no legal acts or administrative means for advancing the position of the public and NGOs to authorities,” Petrov said. “This can only be accomplished by personal ties: personally going to a concrete parliamentarian, to a bureaucrat at the Ministry, and explaining, for instance, our disagreement with this or that decision.”

Russia’s biggest federal agency ignores environmentalists

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May 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona files police report against Statoil over six years of chemicals leaked into Norwegian Sea

Charles Digges, 11/10-2013

A disposal well in the Norwegian Sea owned by Norway’s state oil company Statoil leaked 3,428 tons of hazardous chemicals and oil based drilling fluids over six years at the Njord site, Bellona has learned.

Statoil further violated provisons stipulating that it disclose crucial information about the cause of the leak within two years of its discovery to Norwegian environmental authorities. Bellona alleges the oil giant delayed reporting to dodge penalites.

Statoil yesterday admitted to the leakage and issued an apology, but contested that it deliberately put off reporting the incident to Norway’s Environmental Agency.

Bellona has, nonetheless, filed a police report against the state oil company in the hope that corporate penalties will be levied against Statoil.

“We are looking very seriously at the issue and believes it is important that it be reviewed,” said Bellona adviser Karl Kristensen, who prepared the legal action (downloadable in Norwegian to right).

Leaks of so-called ‘black’ and ‘red’ chemicals and other oil-based ‘yellow’ discharges from the injection well located near Statoil’s floating Njord A platform in the Norwegian Sea off the country’s northwest coast are classified as illegal for release into the environment. Kristensen was quick to say that there is no danger that Norway’s northwest coast will be contaminated by the leaks.

The Njord A platform is attached to the injection well through a series of sub-sea pipes.

Kristensen explained that Norway’s color-based system of chemical classifications proceeds from green, which are mainly harmless. Yellow is the widest category, the majority of which constitutes chemicals that are harmful to the environment, such as oil-based drill mud, or slop.

Bellona’s Karl Kristensen

Red and black are chemicals that are highly toxic and can work their way into the food chain, causing cross-generational contamination.

According to Kristensen’s research, the leaks at the Njord injection well “are equal to or greater than the total emissions of hazardous chemicals and oil pollution from the Norwegian Continental Shelf over an entire year.”

Bellona’s police filing reports that “leaks from injection well A-14HX I the Njord Field [has] resulted in illegal discharges totaling 3,428 tons of chemicals.”

Njord production director Arve Rennemo wrote in a letter dated September 2 and quoted by Norwegian daily VG, that, “the guiding assumption is that virtually all the ‘slop’ injected into the well A-14 HX has leaked to the seabed.”

“This assumption is the basis for the estimate that a total of 3,428 tons of chemicals have leaked onto the seabed,” wrote Rennemo.

Two year reporting delay

Bellona maintains that Statoil also has violated the provisions concerning disclosure of the leakage to the pollution contorl supervisory oversight authorities with Norway’s Environmental Agency, and that it withheld crucial information about the cause of the leakage for two years, even thought the reasons were known to the company.

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October 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SCANDAL!! Norways NGO Bellona uncovers secret nuclear deals at the experimental thorium reactor complex in Norway

“….The Halden reactor’s own ethical guidelines state that it will not “export technology or materials that can be used for another nation’s military capacity without export permits from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the Norwegian daily VG reported…..”


Charles Digges,

11 September-2013

A major Norwegian nuclear technology institute has, as the result of Bellona legal pressure, admitted it has carelessly shared nuclear fuel technologies with other countries in contravention of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry’s regulations guiding the release of such sensitive information.

As a result of a police report filed in May by Bellona general director and nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer, Norway’s Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) – which runs the country’s Halden research reactor – has come clean that it should have handled several research agreements, some involving foreign militaries via the appropriate channels.

The unique qualities of the Halden reactor allow for a wide array of nuclear experiments that can have direct military applications, said Bøhmer. Research contracts with the Halden reactor are therefore overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with international non-proliferation principles.

The Halden reactor’s own ethical guidelines state that it will not

“export technology or materials that can be used for another nation’s military capacity without export permits from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the Norwegian daily VG reported.

The nuclear research in question involves developing fuel for nuclear submarines that can last substantially longer than traditional fuels, thus allowing military submarines to remain at sea for greater lengths of time without refueling.

Bellona’s Nils Bøhmer.
Tone foss aspevoll/bellona

According to Bøhmer, that research is likely now in the hands of Russia, the US, Brazil, Argentina, and France.

The agreements the IFE has secured with nuclear research institutes in these countries circumvent Foreign Affairs Ministry approval as well as Halden’s own stated policies, said Bøhmer.

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign affairs confirmed it had not received any documents pertaining to the deal in place between IFE and Brazil before the case was brought to its attention by Bellona and newspaper reports in late spring.

On May 12, the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo reported that the Halden reactor was carrying out so-called irradiation tests for Brazil’s navy as part of the development of the country’s first generation of nuclear submarines, VG reported. The first of these submarines is to be commissioned in 2023.

The IFE emphasized that no uranium fuel was ever to be exported, only reports on the experiments.

Deal sailed under the radar for two years

According to the VG report, the deal between the IFE and Brazil has been in effect for two years prior to its discovery.

According to Bøhmer, “the IFE seems to be selling know-how to the highest bidder” without regard to its possible military application.

This is especially dicey, he said, in the hands of non-NATO bloc nations, such as Russia and Brazil and Argentina.

“Research handling is out of control,” said Bøhmer, who noted that several other stop gaps, such as Norwegian Minister for Trade and Industry, Trond Giske, should have red-flagged the research sharing deals.  The Ministry for Trade and Industry oversees IFE.

“What happens at the IFE is [Giske’s] responsibility, but did he know what kind of research the institute was participating in?

Have all customers been civilian?” said Bøhmer. “There is every reason to question the common sense of these scientists when they wait until the case comes out in the media before applying permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The allegations that the IFE skirted Ministry of Foreign Affairs approval for the export of nuclear technological know-how, which could be used for military purposes are currently under investigation.

If found guilty it could lead to fines and even jail time for IFE upper brass, Bøhmer said Tuesday.

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September 12, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fukushima – “More thyroid cancer cases come to light” – Bellona

Japan seeks higher crisis scale ratings for highly contaminated water leaks; more thyroid cancer cases come to light

Charles Digges, 21/08-2013

Japan’s nuclear regulator has suggested wants raising the severity level of a radioactive water leak discovered Monday at the tsunami-struck Fukushima-Daiichi plant from one to three on a seven-point international scale, Japanese media have reported.

News that the leak level has reached new heights of urgency dovetails with a new spike in thyroid cancer diagnosis rates among Fukushima youth who were exposed to fallout after the initial catastrophe in March 2011.

Six more young adults who were below the age of 18 when the Fukushima accident occurred were Wednesday diagnosed with the cancer, bringing the total number of confirmed thyroid cases resulting from the disaster to 18, Kyodo New Agency reported.

The new characterization of the leak would reclassify it from an “anomaly” to a “serious incident” on the seven point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) maintained by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said about 300 tons (some 300,000 liters) of contaminated water has leaked from one of hundreds of 1,000-ton cylindrical steel tanks around the decimated plant, much of which has apparently seeped into the ground, Asashi Shimbun reported.

The utility is also checking for leaks at other tanks holding contaminated water at the site.

Bellona General Director and nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer question whether Japanese authorities shouldn’t consider moving the classification of the accident to a Level 4, which would characterize it as “an accident with local consequences.”

“That highly radioactive water is presumably seeping into the ground would imply that this is somewhat more serious that the Level 3 Japanese officials are suggesting,” said Bøhmer. “Fukushima is the never-ending story and it is just getting worse and worse.”

Tepco officials said they presume the leaky tank is located somewhere west of Fukushima-Daiichi’s reactor No 4. Part of the water remains pooled within a concrete barrier surrounding a group of 26 tanks, said the paper.

Some one thousand tanks have been built to contain the water from the three  melted down reactors, as well as underground water that is contaminated when it runs into reactor and turbine basements.

However, 350 of these tanks, holding 300,000 tonnes of water, are less durable than others, with rubber seams. Japanese officials say they have no choice but to keep building tanks to contain the contaminated water.

Tanks sloshing with highly radioactive water in ad-hoc containment system

The water in the tanks has a concentration of 80 million becquerels per liter, which translates into 24 trillion becquerels for 300 tons, Asashi Shimbun reported The water contains cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive materials, although cesium concentrations have been reduced through treatment.

Jerry-built coolant systems continue to keep the reactors and spent fuel ponds cool, but the consequence has been that enormous volumes of contaminated water have to be stored onsite at the destroyed nuclear power plant.

Tepco said that because the leaking tank is assumed to be about 100 meters from the coastline, the leak does not pose an immediate threat to the sea.

But Hideka Morimoto, an NRA spokesman, stomped on that report from Tepco, telling the Associated Press that contaminated water could reach the sea via a drain gutter.

The incidents have shaken confidence in the reliability of the tanks.

Tank leaks nothing new

Four other tanks of the same design have had similar leaks since last year. Earlier this month, it was reported that 300 tons of low-level contaminated water a day were escaping the territory of the plant and sullying the waters of the Pacific.

The most recent water incidents are viewed as the most serious since the initial explosion and meltdown.

A puddle of the contaminated water was emitting 100 millisieverts an hour of radiation, Kyodo news agency said earlier this week.

Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco, told Reuters news agency: “One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.”

High radioactivity levels slow work

This severely complicates measures to stem the leak: The water is so radioactive that teams working to stem the flow must constantly be rotated because of the high exposure rates, and it is clear that most of the contaminated water has already been absorbed into the ground.

“We are extremely concerned,” Morimoto told reporters Wednesday. He urged Tepco to quickly determine the cause of the leak and its possible effect on water management plans.

Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono told AP that workers were pumping out the puddle and the remaining water and will transfer it to other containers in a desperate effort to prevent it from escaping into the sea ahead of heavy rain predicted later in the day around Fukushima.

By Tuesday afternoon they had captured only about 4 tons (4,000 liters), Ono said.

Third revision in INES scale suggested

Japanese officials first suggested the most recent tank leak be classified as a level one incident on the INES scale. Suggestions by Japan’s newly constituted Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) represent the third time incidents surrounding the Fukushima disaster, which began on March 11, 2011, have been upwardly revised on the INES scale.

The Fukushima incident was initially reported as a Level 5 “accident with wider consequences” on INES – by Japanese authorities immediately following the triple meltdown and reactor building explosions triggered by a total loss of primary and back up cooling systems after an 11-meter tsunami hit the plant.

Within days, that figure was upwardly revised by Japan to a Level 7 “major accident” – the first Level 7 since Chernobyl.

Japanese media has reported the upward revision of Monday’s radioactive water leak is a provisional measure that must be confirmed by the IAEA – just as the initial accident classifications were.

The move to classify the leak was announced in a document posted only in Japanese on the NRA’s website on Monday, the BBC reported. The move to reclassify the leak was subsequently approved at a Wednesday meeting of the regulators.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “hopes that the Japanese side can earnestly take effective steps to put an end to the negative impact of the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident.”

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August 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Environmental group Bellona faces heavy fines In Putins Russia! Who is next?

…Surprisingly, prosecutors also said they intended to launch a case into serious environmental violations brought to their attention by ERC Bellona….

surprise marketing

Image source ;


Charles Digges, 23/05-2013

Prosecutors in St. Petersburg have finally signaled their intention to fine the Environmental Rights Center (ERC) Bellona by launching two administrative cases relative to alleged health and fire code violations, but will be leaving it to St. Petersburg’s health and fire inspectorates to determine the size of the fine. 

Surprisingly, prosecutors also said they intended to launch a case into serious environmental violations brought to their attention by ERC Bellona.

ingress_imageWhile greeting that as a silver lining, ERC Bellona Chairman Alexander Nikitin said the fines, as threatened previously could be has high as $20,000, but he added immediately that were ERC Bellona found guilty of any of the so-called administrative violations, it would appeal the decisions immediately.

Nikitin was initially summoned to meet with prosecutors Wednesday, but the meeting was put off until Thursday. His Thursday meeting was the eighth time representatives of ERC Bellona have had to meet with prosecutors since Bellona office was raided on March 19, only to be turned away on all previous occasions.

Since late March, a wide array of Russian authorities, ministries and federal agencies have been conducting raids on NGOs in conjunction with the new foreign agent law, trying to reveal administrative violations that can be very fluidly and arbitrarily interpreted – and lead to crippling fines.

Environmental organizations increasingly targeted

Some 600 Russian NGOs have faced similar unannounced inspections and are one by one being charged with administrative violations. At the beginning of this month, the government began targeting ecological groups with these notices of violation and by last count, according to Greenpeace, 30 plus environmental organizations are being harassed into registering as foreign agents under the new law

After the March raid on ERC Bellona, which was led by prosecutors, and representatives of the health and fire inspectorates, ERC Bellona was required over a three-day period to compile 15 tomes of documentation for prosecutors, according to ERC Executive Director Nikolai Rybakov.

Revolving door visits to prosecutors

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May 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona under attack with a plea to the Norwegian Government for support



“…Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly killed a grizzly bear using only his hands today while trying to save a group of babies and pregnant women from attack….”

Image source and caption ;

Again turning away ERC Bellona executive director, prosecutors demand chairman Nikitin

“….At the beginning of this month, the government began targeting ecological groups with these notices of violation and by last count, according to Greenpeace, 30 plus environmental organizations are being harassed into registering as foreign agents under the new law. Neither Greenpeace nor Bellona have yet been targeted by such a notice yet…..”

Charles Digges, 13/05-2013

Prosecutors in St. Petersburg again refused to provide the Environmental Rights Center (ERC) Bellona’s executive director, Nikolai Rybakov, with any information concerning the disposition of a number of so-called administrative violations levied against the organization in connection with Russia’s ongoing nit-picking of NGOs under an onerous new law. 

Rybakov has been summoned to the prosecutor’s office in St. Petersburg more than a half dozen times since an unannounced raid on ERC Bellona’s office on March 21 by prosecutors, which allegedly revealed code violations that could amont to $20,000 in fines.


Last Monday, the prosecutor’s finally released their complete list of accusations against the organization in written form and gave it to ERC Bellona’s lawyer, Artyom Alexeyev.


The six-page long letter of dense legalese, detailing supposed fire and health code violations, stipulated that ERC Bellona had 30 days beginning with the receipt of the letter to address these violations.


The letter was also accompanied by an order that Rybakov appear at the prosecutors office today, Monday May 13. Rybakov, upon receiving the letter, sent 76 pages of documents back to prosecutors that refuted every accusation they made in their dispatch. This 76 pages is an addition to the 15 tomes of documents already turned over to prosecutors following the late March raid.


Despite the invitation, Rybakov was again turned away by prosecutors with no information but the instruction that ERC Bellona Chairman Alexander Nikitin appear at their offices to discuss the administrative charges detailed in their accusations.


ERC Chairman Alexander Nikitin


Rybakov confirmed that Nikitin had been asked to attend Monday’s meeting, but was unable to do so because he was in international transit back to Oslo.


Rybakov also said that ERC Bellona’s charter stipulates that Nikitin is the responsible party for dealing with issues such as administrative fines, which raises questions, about why prosecutors have been continually summoning Rybakov, only to turn him away.


Bellona’s general manager Nils Bøhmer and Russia Group leader Vladislav Nikiforov on Monday and held meetings at the office of Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in an effort to attract government attention to the ongoing plight of ERC Bellona.

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May 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona’s St. Petersburg office meets with Norwegian PM Stoltenberg over Russian NGO crackdowns

Charles Digges, 05/04-2013

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenburg today met with representatives of the Environment and Rights Center (ERC) Bellona to discuss onerous fines the Russian Prosecutor General is hinting it will levy against the organization and the situation of Russian NGOs in general. 


The meeting, which took place at the Norwegian consulate, comes quickly on the heels of a meeting ERC Bellona’s Executive Director Nikolai Rybakov had with prosecutors on Wednesday, where they hinted ERC Bellona could be fined some $20,000. Prosecutors said then that they were still compiling evidence and told Rybakov a final decision on the fine would be made next Wednesday.

Rybakov said that Stoltenberg, who is in St. Petersburg to attend the meeting of Baltic Sea Countries later on Friday, promised to bring up the concerning situation of Russian NGOs with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is also attending the meeting.

Bellona’s General Director Nils Bøhmer in Oslo said that, “It is vitally important that Prime Minister Stoltenberg take a vigorous position defending not only Bellona’s work, but the work of thousands of other NGOs in Russia.”

“We are not spies,” he added. “Our work is centered on 20 years of supporting Russian citizens’ rights to a clean environment.”

A month of ‘unannounced inspections’

ERC Bellona is just one of thousands of NGOs that have been swooped on by a variety of Russian official bodies from the tax inspectorate to health and fire officials over the last month, apparently as part of a new enforcement effort of Russia’s new laws requiring civil society organizations engaged in vaguely defined “political activity” to register with the Ministry of Justice as “foreign agents.”

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April 9, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Russian NGOs undergoing unprecedented Kremlin sweeps! Report from a worried Bellona, NGO

Charles Digges, 02/04-2013



“…..Churchill himself wrote in 1935 that “[History] is replete with examples of men who have risen to power by employing stern, grim, and even frightful methods but who, nevertheless, when their life is revealed as a whole, have been regarded as great figures whose lives have enriched the story of mankind. So may it be with Hitler.”……”   🙂

Image and quote ;

Russian authorities are raiding non-governmental organizations to make sure they comply with a law intended to stem foreign meddling in Russian politics, President Vladimir Putin said last week, eliciting cries from the US State Department that the Kremlin’s repressive new regime in on a “witch hunt.” 

Abduction victim: I was bound, gagged and told ‘if you don’t answer our ­questions, your children will be killed’

Image and quote ;

The swoops on NGOs began on March 19, when Bellona’s St. Petersburg office, the Environment and Rights Center (ERC) Bellona, was the focus of a so-called unannounced inspection by an array of officials from the Russia Prosecutor General to the health department and fire officials.

The Prosecutor General gave ERC Bellona a mere three days to produced requested documents that would have taken months to assemble ranging from financial documents, the groups honorary titles, medals, and certificates of merit, as well as documents on whether ERC Bellona employees receive regular chest x-rays. On Wednesday, ERC Bellona’s director, Nikolai Rybakov, will appear at the Prosecutor General’s office in St. Petersburg, where it is hoped he will learn of ERC’s status following the raid.

The participation of the fire, labor and health departments in many reported checks beginning with Bellona ­– groups with no affiliation with the NGO ­– baffled Pavel Chikov, a member of the presidential human rights council, he said in an interview with Bellona Tuesday.

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April 3, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Russian nuclear icebreaker traversing Norwegian waters, worrying Bellona

The Russian nuclear icebreaker, the Rossiya, has left the Murmansk-based icebreaker port of Atomflot on Tuesday en route to the St. Petersburg area on what is likely to be its last voyage of Russia’s forth-oldest ship of this type.


Charles Digges, 17/01-2013

The icebreaker will likely be taken out of service because it has surpassed its intended useful lifespan.

As of 11:00 Central European time  Thursday, the Rossiya was located 200 kilometers east southeast of the Northern Norwegian city of Bodø travelling at 17 knots, according to the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).

Nils Bøhmer, Bellona’s general manager and nuclear physicist expressed concern that the Rossiya would be completing the some 5000 kilometer along Norway’s 100,000 kilometer-long coastline as it steams to the Gulf of Finland where it will be deployed until April to help with commercial ship navigation in icy conditions, he said.

He said the potential for accidents aboard the vessel such as fires or reactor trouble were heightened because of its age. The vessel put to sea in 1985.

Bøhmer said NCA officials were notified on Christmas that the Rossiya would be sailing along its coast, but – as has happened in the past to the chagrin of Norwegian authorities  – officials were given no specific dates for the voyage.

The ship’s route will take it from Russia’s far north port of Atomflot, along Norway’s western coast, through the narrow Øresund between Sweden and Denmark to the Gulf of Finland, the Barents Observer news portal reported.

The Rossiya has experienced no major radiological or other technical problems during its service period, and has even been used to shuttle tourists to the North Pole.

But other icebreaker mishaps over the past several years nonetheless give Bøhmer pause.

“The age of such vessels, the wear on reactors, andexamples of other mishaps aboard ships of Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet are a cause for concern to Norway’s public and the population of those countries the Rossiya will also pass,” he said.

Fire kills two aboard Vaygach

A recent example was a fire aboard Russia’s Vaygachnuclear powered icebreaker, which killed two in December 2011.

The Vaygach, which had departed from Dudinka 2,800 kilometers northeast of Moscow, was breaking the way for the freight carrier Kapitan Danilkin along the Yenisei river that runs north through Siberia when the blaze broke out.

Though the fire left the Vaygach’s reactor untouched, it burned for three hours at the mouth of the Yenisei were it spills into the Kara Sea.

A third man suffered burns and smoke inhalation, but theVaygach eventually returned to Atomflot under its own steam. The Vaygach put to sea in 1990.

In another 2011 incident, this one in May, the Russian nuclear icebreaker Taimyr was forced to return to port when tiny cracks in the first cooling circuit of the ship’s reactor were found to be leaking large quantities of cooling water.

Coolant leak hobbles Taimyr at sea

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January 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Before the bombs go off: Bellona

The advent of nuclear weapons in the 1940s created an environmental Frankenstein, the repercussions of which no nuclear-armed nation on earth has been able to deal with effectively. As the search for nuclear weapons begat the harnessing of the atom’s power for the “peaceful” purposes of energy production, the two are inextricably intertwined in producing an environmental, sociological and economic challenge that they governments of the world are only beginning to comprehend.

Charles Digges, 27/12-2012

And if current progress in dealing with weapons and civilian nuclear waste is any indication, the destructive force of both nuclear arms and nuclear energy – even if they were banned tomorrow by all world governments simultaneously – will continue to linger for generations to come. The simple fact of the matter in both cases remains that, ever since the inception of the atomic chain reaction occurred to Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard as he stood waiting to cross Budapest street in 1933, – according to his memoirs – no scientist, group of scientists or national governments have come up with a way to store nuclear waste for the hundreds of decades it takes to lose its contaminating effects, or mitigate the effects of radiation exposure to human health. Nuclear weapons and their doppelganger nuclear power have thus together achieved the status of a time release weapon of mass destruction even before the red button is pushed in a remote missile silo or a dirty bomb detonated by terrorists.

Haste failed to account for waste

The race to create the world’s most potent weapon of mass destruction in the hopes of ending World War II with Fat Man and Little Boy under Robert Opppenheimer’s  Manhattan Project was exactly that  – a race that took haphazard chances with then-barley known effects of radiation, and only a theoretical knowledge of how long radioactive contamination remains lethal within the environment.


Little Boy exploding above Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and Fat Man exploding over Nagasaki on Aust 9, 1945
Wikimedia Commons


On August 6, 1945, the US bomber the Enola Gay unleashed the uranium-235 based Little Boy on Hiroshima with 16 kilotons of force. Three days later, the plutonium powered Fat Man was dropped over Nagasaki by the US bomber Bockscar, yielding 21 kilotons of force.

The rest of the world struggled to catch up, with Russia detonating its first uranium powered nuclear bomb in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan on August 29, 1949 as the result of a massive post-war effort involving some 68,000 people working within the First Chief Directorate, or PGU, headed by Igor Kurchatov. The PGU, through the Soviet period underwent several name changes – many intended to disguise its purpose – and has emerged today as Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation.


A replica of the first Russian atomic bomb


Though an ally of the United States, Great Britain did not develop its own nuclear weapon until the early 1950s, detonating its first uranium-235 powered device under a frigate off the coast of Australia on October 3, 1952, followed by its free fall “Blue Danube” atomic bomb in November of 1953. Secrecy codes adopted by the administration of President Harry Truman, and codified by the McMahon Act of 1946, restricting foreign access to nuclear weapons know-how – despite Britain’s close collaboration in the Manhattan Project.

Successes in disarmament

US led efforts in the early 1990s via the Nunn Lugar program an others by the US Department of Energy (DOE)  – which collectively form the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) effort – to decommission tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, submarines, and shut down plutonium producing reactors in the former Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War proved one successful blow in disarmament.  This drive was augmented in 2002 by the G-8’s Global Initiative program, which pumped another $20 billion over 10 years into helping fortify the storage and security of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned military nuclear weapons like submarines, as well as to augment CTR efforts to rid, or at least safely store, Russia’s vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons. US-led programs also contributed to the safe storage of weapons grade plutonium in Russia, and launched other efforts to help retrain the legions of now-jobless Soviet weapons scientists to apply their skills to peaceful purposes.


A Russian nuclear submarine being dismantled on Nunn-Lugar funding
Bellona Archive


But many of these programs are now drawing to a close, both because of their own built-in expiration dates, like the G-8 initiative, and the future of US programs, like CTR, have recently become foggy as Moscow’s political system expresses new paranoia about revealing its nuclear secrets – and indeed about western aid in general. This backpedaling to the Soviet cloud of secrecy surrounding issues nuclear – which is by no means the exclusive domain of the Russians – threatens to leave unfinished several critical weapons destruction programs, and has even seen the Kremlin recently state plans to restore its nuclear submarine might under the world’s seas – replacing missile subs decommissioned by CTR and other international efforts – despite the excessive cost overruns that such new lines of nuclear weapons systems imply.


Nunn-Lugar helps destroy a missile silo in the former Soviet Republic of Ukraine
Wikimedia Commons


But many of these programs are now drawing to a close, both because of their own built-in expiration dates, like the G-8 initiative, and the future of US programs, like CTR, have recently become foggy as Moscow’s political system expresses new paranoia about revealing its nuclear secrets – and indeed about western aid in general. This backpedaling to the Soviet cloud of secrecy surrounding issues nuclear – which is by no means the exclusive domain of the Russians – threatens to leave unfinished several critical weapons destruction programs, and has even seen the Kremlin recently state plans to restore its nuclear submarine might under the world’s seas – replacing missile subs decommissioned by CTR and other international efforts – despite the excessive cost overruns that such new lines of nuclear weapons systems imply.

The uncertainty of CTR’s future efforts – which America insists it will continue – and funding shortfalls by G-8 nations under the Global Initiative cast a shadow over the future of literally tons of nuclear military hardware and irradiated equipment that continues to pose one of the most critical environmental questions of the last, the current and several centuries to come.

Emergent hazards of the nuclear weapons industry and the advent of nuclear energy

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December 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free Now protest Japan- Andrey Ozharovskiy (Bellona, Lithuania)

Nuclear Free Now is a series of international, participatory events that is being held simultaneously in Tokyo (Hibiya Park and surroundings) and Fukushima (Koriyama City). See below link for details including the background, programme and how to participate in and support this series of events.

Lithuania:Building a Nuclear Free Society

Published on Dec 15, 2012


Lithuania:Building a Nuclear Free Society
People who stopped Nuclear Power Plants
Andrey Ozharovskiy(Bellona, Lithuania)

Thanks to IWJ  for the video footage

December 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona -USAID expulsion from Russia shows framework of long-planned Putin initiatives

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) ceased operations in Russia yesterday after being expelled last month in a move widely seen as part of the Kremlin’s effort to intimidate and discredit opposition.

Charles Digges, 02/10-2012

Meanwhile, Russian public opinion seems to be taking a sway against organizations receiving foreignfinancing, as evidenced by hostile viewer calls to independent Russia television programs that have examined the decision of the Kremlin to clamp down on Russian NGOs that receive funding from abroad.


Putin had accused USAID of meddling in the country’s internal affairs, and specifically its elections.

Fifty-seven nonprofits operating in Russia, from human rights watchdogs to HIV/AIDS prevention groups, are set to lose out on millions of dollars in US government grants following the Kremlin’s decision to kick out USAID

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October 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Danger in Russia’s nuclear- powered icebreakers parked at Murmansk

Nuclear safety expert says it’s time to consider moving risky icebreaker operations out of Murmansk

Rosatomflot’s service base is not sized for all the planned new nuclear-powered icebreakers, says Andrey Zolotkov, who previously worked as engineer onboard one of the service vessels storing spent nuclear fuel. Barents Observer  By Thomas Nilsen  March 13, 2019 

«So far, so good, but what if something goes wrong one day. Then questions will come in terms of why such operations take place within the city limits of Murmansk,» says Andrey Zolotkov, head of the autonomous non-commercial organization Bellona.

Before he started working for the nuclear safety watchdog group, Zolotkov worked for decades onboard «Imandra», a service ship storing spent nuclear fuel from the fleet of icebreakers. The vessel is berthed at Rosatomflot’s service base less than two kilometers north of the nearest blocks of flats in the Rosta district in Murmansk, a city with 300,000 inhabitants.

There are few cities in the world where more reactors’ maintenance work, change- and storage of uranium fuel, handling and storage of radioactive waste takes place within the boundaries of such big city.

«Look at the bases of the [military] Northern Fleet,» Andrey Zolokov illustrates. «There, all the maintenance and repair work with nuclear submarines take place outside and away from the towns where people are living.»

Every three to four years, the uranium fuel in the reactors of the icebreakers have to be replaced. Such high-risk operations are carried out with the most comprehensive safety precautions in the nuclear industry. Additionally, due to heat and high radiation, the fuel elements have to be temporarily stored for a few years before being transported away by train. At the base in Murmansk, such interim storage takes place onboard the two ships «Imandra» and «Lotta», as well as in spacial designed casks onshore.

An accident with release of radioactivity could reach densely populated areas in Murmansk long before anyone manage to trigger the emergency evacuation alarm.

«Considering the many new icebreakers coming the most risky parts of the nuclear maintenance operation should be moved further away from the city centre,» Andrey Zolotkov argues. He, however, underlines that there has never been any accidents at the service base.

Currently, Russia has four nuclear-powered icebreakers and one container carrier. Rosatomflot is the world’s only fleet of civilian nuclear powered vessels and when not sailing in icy waters, they are all moored at the quays in Murmansk……..

March 16, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment