Skip to content or view screen version

Europe is threatened by another Chernobyl

Steven Laack | 28.01.2015 07:07 | Anti-Nuclear | Ecology | World

The flow of information on continued military standoff in eastern Ukraine somewhat diminishes the importance of the processes in energy sector of this country which are actually essential for every European and citizens of adjoining countries in the first run. They may expect the most devastating nuclear catastrophe in the world at any moment. This is neither a joke nor a scarecrow. This is reality.

Several years ago enterprising American businessmen working for Westinghouse company entered the deal to supply adapted constructions of fuel elements (TVEL) for Ukrainian nuclear power plants. It’s worth noting that NPPs in most countries of Eastern Europe and in the countries, used to be USSR republics in the past, have been constructed and built according to the standards and technologies different from those in the USA. But lust for immediate profits (senior officials involved appear to have had their personal financial interest in it) pushed Ukrainians to rather a risky decision of using incompatible elements. Surely, TVELs were “adapted” by Westinghouse company, but it seems this was done in absence of any comprehensive and sufficiently financed research to estimate possible risks of their exploitation on Ukrainian NPPs (perhaps the research only existed as a paper variant).

Real life shows vividly the danger of mixing incompatible systems and elements making people sort of guinea pigs in such cases. In particular, damaged fuel blocks’ constructions of Westinghouse make on Temelin NPP in Czech Republic lead to thedecision to drop them at all.

Back into 2012 similar damage took place on South-Ukrainian NPP but due to political gambling and personal interests of the leading Ukrainian politicians in charge of energy sector of the country Ukraine is being forced into most risky experiment of applying Westinghouse fuel elements on ALL the rest Ukrainian NPPs.

Amid this background there have been occurring some mysterious events with the Ukrainian mass media and officials persistently keeping their lips sealed. Since last November many Ukrainian cities have been facing regular blackouts which authorities refer to lack of coal supplies due to continuing war hostilities in the south-east of Ukraine. But Ukraine has actually got as much as four acting NPPs (and Zaporizhye NPP is the largest one in whole Europe). There are few European countries which can par Ukraine in this. So lack of coal (btw the coal is still available in storage facilities) is actually bad excuse for energy supply problems in Ukraine. It looks rather naïve, to put it mildly.

There are some officially recognized facts worth noting. On 28 November, 2014, there was a malfunction on Zaporizhye NPPand Unit 3 was shut down following “a short circuit” in the plant’s transformer yard. Authorities deny the Internet reports on 14 times’ rise of radiation level.

A month passed and on 28 December, 2014, the emergency system again turned on and Unit 6 of the same Zaporizhye NPP was shut down too. This time some official documents got into Internet and they testified to 16 times’ rise of radiation level around the NPP. Once again there was a try to deny the fact but the accident itself was officially confirmed.

On 15 January there was registered the third in the last two months accident, this time on South-Ukrainian NPP. The technical problem with a cooler inside transformer caused a fire. And again Energoatom of Ukraine reacted with the reports on “normal radiation level”.

Unlike official reports asserting absence of any problems on Ukrainian NPPs there appeared lots of local residents’ reports on witnessed intensive activities of special services in the regions with the damaged NPPs. Some people made the radiation studies themselves to register the higher rates. And after a hacker successful attack there was even posted some e-mail exchange of Zaporizhye NPP managers who were clearly in panic.

Whether this information true or not – this is a question to be answered by specialists. There’s no smoke without fire, you know……

All in all, continuing series of incidents on NPPs in Ukraine is to be in the focus of IAEA, leading world politicians and international mass media. It shouldn’t be missed on them that this is the country now engaged in war with heavy armaments and military jets employed. This is the country experiencing lack of electricity and introducing insecure fuel elements of Westinghouse company which don’t fit NPPs of the Soviet construction type (regular thermal overloading and accidents provoked by overheating of the system prove it). Sadly enough, there has been no relevant reaction of the international structures so far. Americans staying far away from Ukraine and obsessed with their geopolitical opposition to Russia choose to have a blind eye on the problems of the young Ukrainian democracy, their puppet actually. Europeans just can’t share this position, for if it goes this way in Ukraine they may soon face another Chernobyl disaster just next door to them.

Steven Laack