Russian Federation accepts ban on dumping of radioactive wastes under 1972 London Convention

The Russian Federation has officially accepted the 1993 ban on the dumping of radioactive wastes under the 1972 London Convention. The Government of the Russian Federation informed the Secretary-General of IMO on 17 May 2005 that it had accepted the ban as contained in the amendments to the Convention under Resolution LC.51(16). As a result, twelve years after its adoption, the prohibition of the disposal of radioactive wastes at sea is finally in force for all Contracting Parties to the London Convention, of which there are currently 81.

The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter 1972, or "London Convention" is one of the oldest global conventions protecting the marine environment from human activities. It has been in force since 1975. Its objective is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by the dumping of wastes from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures.

The prohibition of dumping high-level radioactive wastes, in force since 1975, was extended in 1993 to cover all radioactive wastes, through the adoption of Resolution LC.51(16). These legally binding provisions entered into force on 20 February 1994 for all Contracting Parties to the Convention, except the Russian Federation which, on 18 February 1994, issued a declaration of non-acceptance of this resolution. In its declaration, the Russian Federation made clear, however, that it would "continue to endeavour to ensure that the sea is not polluted by the dumping of wastes and other matter, the prevention of which is the object of the provisions contained in Resolution LC.51(16)".

In the 1990s the Russian Federation reportedly had insufficient facilities to store and process the low-level liquid radioactive wastes generated by its Northern and Pacific nuclear submarine and icebreaker fleets. The facilities were upgraded and expanded with assistance from Japan, Finland, Norway and the United States. In recent years, the Russian Federation also gave priority to the implementation of its National Management Plan addressing radioactive wastes from all sources before formally accepting the ban on dumping at sea.

Since 1994, the progress by the Russian Federation on this issue has been actively followed at the Consultative Meetings of Contracting Parties particularly in view of its dumping in the Barents and Kara Seas and - to a lesser extent - in the North-West Pacific in the 1970s and 1980s.

IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. When the London Convention came into force on 30 August 1975, IMO was made responsible for the Secretariat duties related to it.

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