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Environmental bicycle campaign on the Baltic Sea shore of Germany and Poland. Day four

On the 10th of August we reached Lubmin and saw the place where the Nord-Stream gas pipeline comes ashore onto the German territory, and then we also participated in the action against the prolongation of nuclear waste storage.

It is worth mentioning in advance that the police was not interested in our action. Perhaps they are used to seeing actions even with way more people. It was symbolic that our group was accommodated in Lubmin in the same hostel where security personnel of nuclear waste transport usually stays.
Lubmin is a village right on the coast of Greifswald Bay, which has been under environmentalists’ focus in Western Pomerania in the past years. Twenty years ago one out of three nuclear power plants (NPP) from GDR times was closed down here and has ever since been deconstructed. Within the deconstruction, a temporary nuclear waste storage was built – this is the place we went to today. From Greifswald it’s only about 25 kilometers along the coast of Greifswald Bay through the beautiful beech- and mixed forests as well as large fields of rye and corn.

Stephanie Maack of BGB, Kiel, said: The first glance towards the complex was impressive: a dark grey industrial ruin with several pipes sticking up into the air. We could not help it but take some pictures expressing our disapproval of this type of energy production. Then we headed along the complex which is more than a kilometer long and got some explanations at the main entrance by Sophie, a young activist within the Greifswald anti-nuclear movement.

Sophie told us that the NPP itself was opened in the early 1970s with eight Chernobyl style reactors planned. The last two were never finished but are now used for excursion purposes. The other reactors were being launched step by step until the mid-1980s. In 1990, right after the German reunification, the plant was shut down after the first wave of protest against it from the people. A storage hall was built for both highly and medium radioactive waste – initially only for waste from the two GDR nuclear facilities. The storage hall is not completely closed, which is why rain water enters the hall regularly and is collected – producing ever more waste. Even though the high radioactive storage is already filled-up to a considerable extent, last year the first castor transfer from western Germany arrived to Greifswald, the second one this year. Both transfers were accompanied by a second wave of public protests, this time part of a nation-wide anti-nuclear movement. At the same time, the company running the waste storage is attempting to get a storage permit for the next 70 years - a plan supported by the German national government but not by the German federal state government.

Currently, a law suit is on its way in which the company, supported by the national government is suing the federal state for not giving the permission – a weird situation, indeed. A growing part of the locals is with the federal state government because people do not agree to take over the dangerous waste from other parts of the country. With our bike tour, we called to the national and federal governments: No nuclear waste in the Green Belt at the Baltic Sea!

This area has a huge potential and is highly attractive for the environmentally friendly tourism, and local people wouldn’t like to lose this opportunity in order to no longer link the name of their nice town to the radioactive waste. In the yard of the small cottage near the NPP we saw a flag with a slogan in German language: “Nuclear energy? No thanks!”

For Russian campaign participants this situation could seem less important than, for example, the absence of a decommission program for old NPPs in Russia, or violation of nuclear safety at Mayak complex in Chelyabinsk region where the first nuclear bomb was constructed. The radioactive waste came to Techa river as the result of several accidents and poisoned local inhabitants. On the other hand this German example shows how local people can successfully protect their right for a safe environment and gives an example of NGOs working side by side with one another.

In recent years, the industrial complex of the former NPP became an object of interest for numerous investors, mainly from the industry sector: the Nord-Stream AG company has received permissions, and the Baltic Sea Gas Pipeline will go on land here.
We visited the place where the connecting node of the Nord-Stream pipe with the on-land part of the German pipeline is being constructed. The place where the pipe comes ashore can be hardly distinguished from the nearby natural dunes – same sans, same plants. But at a closer look one may see that several hundred meters of the pipe are buried under the sand taken from the sea bottom. It means that marine environment was disturbed, bottom organism perished and a vital ecosystem part was taken away.

Both German and Russian NGOs are watching closely the Nord-Stream project. Russian NGOs have been joined by experts and have sent the ir remarks to the company itself and to the Russian authorities. Some of our comments have been taken into consideration, but far from all of them. As it seemed, our state authorities were ok with the situation and have not put any additional environment-related requirements before the company, as it happened in other countries.

German NGOs have also conducted their own expert assessments, and their remarks have also not been completely taken into account. Then BUND sued the company for the environmental impact that exceeds the one implied by the initial project. The parties have come to an agreement before any court decision, as the company volunteered to cover all the extra costs associated with the impact. With the help of these funds a national German Baltic Sea Foundation was established, which will work alongside with local authorities, NGOs and the Nord-Stream company to improve the Baltic Sea marine environment.
The way to the Nord-Stream construction site passed between Lubmin nuclear power station and the sea shore, past endless fences that remind us of the past status of these lands and the cows grazing behind them.

The NPP that is now being decommissioned leaves one with mixed feelings. Old withered premises of the idle station and the huge nuclear waste storage hall look gloomy and highly unappealing. However, right next to it, on the same territory, one can see a new biofuel production facility, and not far from there on the side of water discharge channel a solar park is situated. This clearly demonstrates the desire of Germany to switch to safe and low-carbon energy production. What a contrast between the past and the future.
Tourist opportunities provided by this land are backed up by its rich history. On our way to Lubmin we saw an opening wooden bridge that dates back to the 19th century. It is still opened manually as in the old times. At the bridge we saw the sign that said that a pedestrian could use the bridge for only 5 pfennigs and a horseman for 15, just as much as it would cost to 15 geese to pass by the bridge.

Olga Senova (Friends of the Baltic), Tatiana Artemova (Association of environmental Journalists of St.Petersburg, Posev magazine).

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