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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Experts question the safety of Ukrainian nuclear waste storage

Ukraine is becoming a platform for dangerous experiments with radioactive materials. At least this is the conclusion reached by the European nuclear industry, investigating the plans to build near Kiev repository for spent nuclear fuel. The project is contrary to the standards of nuclear safety and creates a risk of radioactive accident, stated in Brussels.

Representatives of the institutions of the European nuclear industry expressed concern about Ukraine’s plans to build a repository for spent nuclear fuel. At the seminar on policy issues in the nuclear industry, which was held in Brussels, the experts noted that the draft Kiev contrary to the rules of nuclear safety and risks of accidents, according to European public affairs.

“We are concerned about secret plans about construction of storage facilities that are contrary to basic standards of nuclear safety and creating a danger of another Chernobyl disaster”

The seminar was conducted by the atomic energy Organization of Europe’s New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE), the main topic of discussion was the issue of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste (SNF and RW). The audience was urged to introduce a single standard for the treatment of spent fuel and radioactive waste – not only for EU but also for other European countries, particularly for Ukraine.

Workshop participants are confident that the unified rules are necessary in connection with the plans of Kiev to build a centralized repository for spent nuclear fuel (facility).

Experts note that the tender for the Holtec International as a contractor was not transparent and open, and most American company there is no experience in building such facilities. According to experts, Ukraine is becoming a platform for a dangerous experiment.

“We are deeply concerned about secret plans about construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility at a distance of 70 kilometers from Kiev near the river Dnieper that are contrary to basic standards of nuclear safety and creating the risk of repetition of the Chernobyl accident”, – said a member of the green Association of Ukraine (ABC) Anna Cancer.

Holtec International is a manufacturer of containers for spent nuclear fuel and has no experience in construction of storage facilities of this type, noted in the ABC. Moreover, the national Academy of Sciences at the time concluded that by choosing technology Holtec, Ukraine will actually be tied to one supplier from USA. “In the US employ other technologies, and proposed to us in the world has not yet been implemented in the United States – not licensed in Europe also there is no example of its use. Ukrainians want to try an experiment? Nowhere in the world spent nuclear fuel is stored on the surface of the earth, as it is planned in Ukraine, not to mention the proximity of the capital and the Dnieper river, the artery that provides water for Kiev and half of Ukraine”, – concerned in the Association.

According to the survey, which was conducted by specialists of the Ukrainian office of international research Agency IFAK Institut, only 20% of respondents among the residents of Kyiv and the Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Chernihiv regions, living in one hundred km zone around ChNPP, know about the decision to build the facility. The local population living in the vicinity of the construction of the hazardous object, no one interviewed on the subject of building of this object.

Recently, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin, in a letter to the UN Secretary General warned that Ukraine provides a capacity that significantly exceeds the needs of Ukraine itself. “Apparently, preparing the infrastructure for the disposal of foreign waste. In other words, we are talking about the transformation of Ukraine by the decision of the present authorities in the “nuclear dump,” wrote Churkin.

This makes sense, since it is known that Ukraine buys from Russia about 2000 fuel assemblies (fuel assemblies) in which, actually, and the stored fuel. The same probably exported to Russia for storage. Capacities of storage in Chernobyl will allow you to store thousand of 16.53 TVs that in eight times exceeds the needs of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian facility

Talking about the storage for the whole country, which will make fuel from three nuclear power plants – Rivne, Khmelnytsky and South-Ukrainian. Zaporizhzhya NPP has its own NPP SNF storage facility since 2001. This site, constructed in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl NPP with the participation of American Holtec International, is scheduled to be operational by 2018.

Kiev has officially launched the construction of the facility in August 2014. Although the contract between Energoatom and Holtec was signed in 2005. Will take the project to the finish line, this time also not yet clear. It is known that Energoatom has allocated two land plots for the needs of the facility with a total area of 45.2 hectares in the Chornobyl exclusion zone. Developed by the Kiev Institute “Energoproekt” technical and economic substantiation of construction (teo) provides for the design storage capacity of the facility 16.53 thousand spent fuel assemblies. For the construction of the csfsf Ukrainian Energoatom intends to attract loans for $ 250 million, which can highlight the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

We are talking about using the dry storage technology of spent nuclear fuel. It will be stored under inert gas in double-walled stainless steel containers that will be loaded into concrete modules, placed on a special platform.

Redistribution of the nuclear power market in Ukraine

Still Ukraine is not only buying Russian nuclear fuel for its nuclear power plants, which are Soviet reactors. Rosatom has fulfilled a full range of services for Ukrainian stations, including those carried out removal of the spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants. In may it became known that “Rosatom forced to suspend the removal of fuel due to non-payment of the Ukrainian “Energoatom”. Energoatom could not pay because of the arrest of his accounts.

As the newspaper OPINION, the Ukrainian authorities made the arrest of accounts of Energoatom for doubtful debts of previous years to the company-the Ghost of ZAO SP “Ukrelectromash”. Who is behind this company is not known for certain. According to one version – one of the local oligarchs, on the other – Americans. Ukrainian TV channels catapulted the version with the Russian following, which seems less likely. Because in parallel with the arrest of accounts unfolds another story against state-owned companies. The Verkhovna Rada is preparing a base for the sale of Energoatom in private hands.

Pushing authorities of this bill, coupled with the inaction of the authorities sounds like a plan bring Energoatom to bankruptcy. The fact is that, under this bill, if Energoatom fails to pay debts to avoid default, the company shall transfer part of its shares to creditors. That is, everything goes to the fact that ZAO SP “Ukrelectromash” could be the owner of Energoatom and get control over all nuclear energy countries. Whoever became the owner of Ukrainian state-owned companies, with 50% of Ukrainian electricity, he will be able to dictate terms to the entire industry and the entire population of the country. The new owner will be able to raise electricity tariffs and a good to earn some money.

Why Kiev repository

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said that the store they need not to pay 150-200 million dollars annually to Russia for the export of spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants. Kiev claimed that the cost of construction and operation of private storage will be less than the cost to export waste to Russia. Another thing is that the plans to build the facility was 10 years ago, first promised to build this repository by 2010, then 2012, now called 2018. In fact, Ukraine is the last time.

First, 16 years ago, Ukraine has ratified the joint Convention on the safety of spent fuel management, nuclear waste belong to the country where they were used and should be stored in its territory. That is why all the contracts with Russia for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel, contain the point that in 2018, the Ukraine must begin to take back the products of their fuel.

Second, Ukraine has for many years conducting dangerous experiments on its nuclear power plant, trying to replace Russian nuclear fuel to fuel the American company Westinghouse Electric. Such experiments have often led to technical problems and emergency situations.

This year it became known that Ukraine uses American fuel already in the six reactors, two nuclear power plants – South-Ukrainian and Zaporizhzhya. Until the reactors are loaded both by Russian and American fuel. This is just an experimental download of American fuel, and it should work only four years, it is therefore not a question about his waste, explained Professor of the Department of nuclear power plants in Odessa national Polytechnic University Sergey barbashev Ukrainian radio station “Radio Capital.” However, by 2018, the Ukrainian Energoatom plans to fully fill the active area of one of the reactors solely fuels the American-Japanese company Westinghouse. This year should be the beginning of the refusal of the Russian fuel.

But Ukraine will not be able to send American spent fuel storage in the United States or a European country, as their laws forbid it, says barbashev. Americans are willing to sell their fuel, but his fate becomes a concern solely of the Ukraine. Accordingly, Russia to send American spent nuclear fuel is also impossible. That is why the construction of the csfsf is necessary to Kiev. Otherwise, the plans for the replacement of Russian fuel by American is also not true, even if finally technically it would be possible.

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