TED Case Studies

Estonia Nuclear Waste

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          CASE NUMBER:        244   
          CASE MNEMONIC:      Estonia
          CASE NAME:          Estonian Nuclear Waste


1.   The Issue: 

     A Soviet era nuclear submarine training facility at Paldiski,
Estonia has been storing nuclear waste at a sight in Saku, Estonia. 
It has become a raiding ground for illegal metals traders.  Since
the fall of the Soviet Union, maintenance and security at the Saku
storage facility has deteriorated.  Access to the 72 hectare site
is virtually unimpeded, and several highly radioactive materials,
that have been found in Estonia, Sweden and Finland, have been
traced back to Saku. This situation is only one example of several
like sites which present a threat of nuclear contamination to the
region and possibly the world, depending on the range of
dissemination of the materials.  

2.   Description:

     The collapse of the Soviet Union left a terrible ecological
legacy in its wake.  Many of these problems are related to the
nuclear industry created around the Cold War.  The nuclear
infrastructure established by the Soviets was secretive and, often,
poorly planned.  In the case of the Paldiski (Estonia) nuclear
submarine training facility, these two factors have created an
especially critical problem.

     The Paldiski Naval Base housed two small reactors which served
as a training center for prospective Soviet submariners.  The waste
produced at this facility was stored on sight (liquid only), and at
a remote sight near Saku, Estonia (solids and liquids).  Saku,
located in a woodland area 27 kilometers from Tallinn, was
established as a prototypical Soviet nuclear "graveyard"; well
guarded and secure.

     However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Saku became an
ideal target for illegal metals traders.  Not only the lax security
contibuted to this phenomenon, but also, Estonia's location near a
major waterway, the Baltic Sea, and a progressively free Eastern
Europe, made the Saku sight a prime target for metals theft.  From
1991 to 1994 the security was reduced to one overnight guard for
the 72 hectare facility.  In addition to this, there was poor
lighting on the perimeter where parts of the single fence had
fallen, and the alarm system on the storage containers was broken.

     During 1994, several bars of Cesium 137, with radioactivity
up to 200 roentgens per hour, were found in Estonia, Sweden and
Finland.  Many of these contaminants were traced back directly to
the Saku facility.  For Example, an Estonian man died after
stealing a bar of Cesium 137 and carrying it around in his coat
pocket for a few days.  The radioactivity's intensity of 120
roentgens per hour was lethal within six hours (Lee, 347).  Another
example comes from Narva, Sweden (24 January 1995), where a piece
of Cesium 137, traced back to Saku, was found on the side of the
road, in a ditch.

     The largest issue regarding the Saku site is its blatant lack
of security, both, on the periphery; and, within the containers
themselves.  These shortcomings are in direct violation of various
international mandates; which set the standards for the proper
securing of nuclear waste and other Hazardous materials.

     The problems at Saku and Paldiski have caused Sweden and
Finland to take notice and lend a hand in the clean up of both
facilities.  Sweden, has earmarked $3.1 million (Lofstedt, 597) for
the specific task of hazardous materials clean up.  Sweden has seen
the Baltic Sea become so polluted because of, largely, Estonian
heavy metals pollution, that it has warned its citizens not to eat
fish from the Baltic Sea more than once a week.  This and other
events, like those mentioned above, have peaked Swedish concern
over their regional environment.

     This concern over the pollution of the Baltic Sea doe not only
stem from nuclear contamination, but also from conventional
contamination which has occurred from other post-Soviet realities,
such as dumping of military and civilian wastes.  This situation
has had a dramatic impact on the fishing industry, and has
subsequently driven the price of fish and other marine products up
almost 25 percent (see BALTIC case).

     These higher market prices have a deep effect on the economies
of the Baltic and Nordic countries because fish and the marine
industries are primary entities in their economies (Feshback,
50-52).  Finland has put aside $14.1 million (Lofstedt, 597), a
markedly higher figure than Sweden because of its proximity, to
help Estonia clean up and secure its hazardous materials and waste. 
They have also contracted a water purification team, Imatran Voima,
to clean the radioactive water at Paldiski.  The process they are
using will  clean' the contaminated water and allow for it to be
deposited into the Baltic Sea- with no risk to the environment.

     In tandem with these efforts, Estonia has tightened security
around Saku.  They have also decided to move the nuclear waste from
the site and close the facility in the near future.  This should
put an end to heavy metals "grave robbing" at Saku, however, their
are several other sites throughout the Baltic and East European
regions that have similar problems, but have not received the same
type of attention. Also, The closing of the Paldiski Naval Base has
been hastened, so that the two reactors can be dismantled and
properly contained.

3.   Related Cases

     BALTIC case
     CHERNOB case
     TEMELIN case
     MOCHO case
     KOMSO case
     RUSSNUKE case

     Keyword Clusters    
     (1): Forum                    = RUSSIA
     (2): Bio-geography            = COOL
     (3): Environmental Problem    = Nuclear Waste [RADIO]

4.   Draft Author: Christopher A. Corpora

B.   LEGAL Clusters

5.   Discourse and Status: AGReement and INPROGress

     One development in this area stems from the Baltic Sea
Convention (Feshback, 90-91), which has yet to be ratified. 
However, this fledgling convention is trying to address many of
these concerns.

6.   Forum and Scope: Estonia and REGIONAL

7.   Decision Breadth:  3 (Estonia, Sweden, and Finland)

8.   Legal Standing: TREATY

C.   GEOGRAPHIC Clusters

9.   Geographic Locations

     a.   Geographic Domain : EUROPE
     b.   Geographic Site   : Eastern Europe [EEUR]
     c.   Geographic Impact : ESTONIA

10.  Sub-National Factors: NO

11.  Type of Habitat: TEMPerate

D.   TRADE Clusters

12.  Type of Measure: Export Standard [EXSTD]

13.  Direct vs. Indirect Impacts: DIRect

14.  Relation of Measure to Environmental Impact

     a.  Directly Related     : YES  NUCLear
     b.  Indirectly Related   : YES  Pollution Land [POLL]
     c.  Not Related          : NO
     d.  Process Related      : YES  RADIOactive

15.  Trade Product Identification: METAL

16.  Economic Data

17.  Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: HIGH

18.  Industry Sector: MANUFacturing

19.  Exporter and Importer: Estonia asnd MANY


20.  Environmental Problem Type: Pollution Land [POLL]

21.  Name, Type, and Diversity of Species 

          Name:          MANY
          Type:          MANY
          Diversity:     NA

22.  Impact and Effect: High and SCALE

23.  Urgency and Lifetime: HIGH and many years.

     This problem is a systemic problem that will require a highly
coordinated and determined effort from all parties to properly
address. See Feshback for various implications.

24.  Substitutes: RECYCling

VI.  OTHER Factors

25.  Culture: NO

26.  Trans-Border: YES

     The case include several nations in the Baltic Sea area.

27.  Rights: NO

28.  Relevant Literature


Feshback, Murray. Ecological Disaster: Cleaning Up the Hidden   
Legacy of the Soviet Regime. (New York: The Twentieth  Century Fund
Press), 1995.

"Finland begins work to clean up Paldiski base." Helsingin Suomen 
Yleisradio Network. GMT 1000 26 January 1995 (JPRS-TEN-95-  003,

"First fifty tons of reactor water purified at Paldiski." Tallinn 
BNS. 1559 GMT 24 January 1995 (JPRS-TEN-95-003, 57).

Lee, Rensselaer W. "Post-Soviet nuclear trafficking: myths, half- 
truths, and the reality." Current History. v 94, n 594. (October
1995), 343-348. 

Lofstedt, Ragnar E. "Environmental aid to Eastern Europe: Swedish 
and Estonian perspectives." Post-Soviet Geography. v 35 (December
1994), 594-607.

"Nuclear waste storage site under police guard." Stockholm      
Sveriges Radio Network. 1130 GMT 24 January 1995 (JPRS-TEN-95-003,

Rotko, Jorma. "Storage of radioactive waste in Estonia in bad   
shape." Helsingin Sanomat. 29 November 1994, p c3 (JPRS-TEN-    
95-003, 55-56). 

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