History of Technology Conference in Philadelphia, USA

26-29 October, 2017 Andrei Stsiapanau introduced the Nuclear Legacies project and the outcomes of his research during the SHOT (Society for the History of Technology) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. The meeting represents a community of researchers in history of technology, environmental history and STS where the leading scholars are part of the development of comparative historical research concerning the relationship between technology and its environment, politics and society.

Within a session on “Nuclear Danger”, Andrei Stsiapanau presented the paper “Nuclear waste as unclear legacy: How to classify and manage the nuclear energy uses in modern Russia?” Based on a case of public hearings about underground waste disposal construction in Sosnovy Bor (Russia), he showed how controversial the definitions and uses of the nuclear waste are and furthermore how the negotiations about the future of the nuclear age in modern Russia are most uncertain. The discussion afterwards revolved around the politics of nuclear decision making in Russia and the technology of underground nuclear waste disposal.

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Fieldwork in Breisach, Germany

25 September, 2017 Florence Fröhlig participated in the 336th so called Mannwache in the German town of Breisach. The meeting has been organized every Monday evening since the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011, in order to call attention to the dangers of nuclear energy production. In the local region, on both sides of the French-German border, the meeting forms one part of the anti-nuclear movement requiring a shut-down of the nuclear power plant located in the Fessenheim on the French side, but less than 20 kilometers from Breisach.

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Nuclear Legacies conference, Stockholm, Sweden

14-16 September, 2017 The Nuclear Legacies conference in Stockholm gathered 35 international scholars from different disciplines. Apart from presenting and discussing our ongoing research, we visited the closed down nuclear reactors R1 and Ågesta located respectively at the KTH campus and in the Stockholm suburb of Farsta. Another way to stimulate discussions was by interacting with artists who are dealing with nuclear issues – among them Carl Johan Erikson and Karin Willén and their project “10°C – Recipes from the archipelago of Forsmark”. As a public part of the conference, we organized an opening of a photo exhibition about Ågesta and a panel discussion on the topic Nuclear Heritage – What to do with it? in collaboration with the National Museum of Science and Technology. The full conference program is available here.

Fieldwork in Moscow, Obninsk and St Petersburg, Russia

May 13-29, 2017 Egle Rindzeviciute spent two weeks visiting atomic heritage sites in Russia. She worked in the archives of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, explored the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant in Obninsk (1954) and interviewed atomic heritage professionals as well as scholars studying nuclear legacies in Russia. A formerly secret science city, Obninsk is home to the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering which is developing a memorial complex dedicated to the origins of peaceful applications of nuclear energy in Russia. (By a decree of Stalin, the nuclear physics Laboratory V was founded in the Obninsko settlement in 1946, and in 1956 Obninsk obtained city status – see picture below.) On 15 May Rindzeviciute gave a lecture on nuclear heritage in Russia to the postgraduates at the School of Cultural Studies at the National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow.

Visit to the Zion station, USA

May 5, 2017 Together with colleagues from Stockholm University, Anna Storm visited the Zion station located on the shore of lake Michigan, about an hour’s drive north of Chicago. The nuclear power plant is currently undergoing decommissioning. Many of the structures are already gone, and soon also the two reactor buildings will be torn down. All radioactive waste is relocated by ship or train transport, except for the spent fuel stay which stay on site in so called dry cask storage. When decommissioning is finished, most of the site will be replanted and the beach will be opened for public use.

Fieldwork in St. Petersburg and Sosnovy Bor, Russia

April 23-29, 2017 Andrei Stsiapanau, the project research fellow, went on field work in St. Petersburg and Sosnovy Bor to conduct interviews with participants and key actors of the discussions over the construction of the radioactive waste depository. Russian corporation «Rosatom» considers to build a radioactive waste underground depository on the shore of the Gulf of Finland which extends between Russia, Finland and Estonia. The planned location is the city of Sosnovy Bor, with 67 thousand of population, 40 kilometers away from St. Petersburg, near the Leningrad nuclear power plant. Sosnovy Bor became a nuclear city in 1973, when the first unit of the Leningrad nuclear power plant was launched. The start of the first unit of the new Leningrad nuclear plant, which will replace the old RBMK reactors, is scheduled for 2017. In addition, within the city three nuclear sites – Research Institute, which is now testing the ship’s nuclear power plants, the melting plant of radioactive metals “Ecomet-S” and the radioactive waste repository of the Russian North-West region are located.

During the visit April 26 to the Sosnovy Bor Andrei Stsiapanau attended the Chernobyl disaster commemorative meeting and ceremony with the participation of the former liquidators of the Chernobyl disaster consequences, of the Leningrad NPP and Sosnovy Bor city administrations.  The same day at the Center for Independent Social Research in Saint-Petersburg Andrei Stsiapanau gave a talk in which he shared with the public his thoughts about very different representations about Chernobyl disaster in political discourses in Belarus and Russia.

Conference in Freiberg, Germany

April 26-28, 2017 Anna Storm participated in the conference Authentizität und industriekulturelles Erbe – Identitäten, Grenzen, Objekte und Räume in Freiberg, Germany, and gave the keynote lecture “A landscape of home and a landscape of viewing: Simultaneous realities in the post-industrial situation”.

Photos by Nikolai Ingenerf