U.S.-Ukraine “partnership” threatens new Chernobyl-style disaster

More bad nuclear news out of Ukraine.

From Fort Russ

April 27, 2015 –
Leonid Savin, Katehon

 

April 26, 2016 will mark the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic explosion of the 4th reactor at the Chernobyl power plant, the effects of which are felt to this very day. This comes at a time when alarming news has arrived which evokes concern over the future of Ukraine’s nuclear industry.
The problems started  along with the “Maidan” coup backed by the US and EU, because Washington immediately started to lobby for a large deal in its own interests, including nuclear industry projects.
The Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom and the Westinghouse Company (US), agreed in 2014 to extend the contract to supply Ukrainian nuclear power plants with US nuclear fuel, until 2020.
But the use of US produced fuel for Soviet reactors is not compatible with their design, and violates security requirements, and could lead to disasters comparable with what happened in Chernobyl. The International Union of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry (IUVNEI) issued the following statement on April 25th, that “Nuclear fuel produced by the US firm Westinghouse does not meet the technical requirements of Soviet-era reactors, and using it could cause an accident on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster, which took place on the 26th April 1986.” The IUVNEI brings together more than 15,000 nuclear industry veterans from Armenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine. It was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Moscow.
Four years ago, there was a near-miss in the Ukraine, when a TVS-W unit with damaged distancing armatures, nearly experienced a significant uncontrolled release of dangerous radiation. Only by a miracle was there no disaster at the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant. But it did not prevent the signing of the agreement. A Czech nuclear power plant experienced a depressurization of fuel elements produced by Westinghouse several years ago, followed by the Czech government’s abandoning the company as a fuel supplier. According to Yuri Nedashkovsky, the president of the country’s state-owned nuclear utility Energoatom, on April 23th, 2014 Ukraine’s interim government ordered an allocation of 45.2 hectares of land for the construction of a nuclear waste storage site within the depopulated exclusion area around the plant of Chernobyl, between the villages of Staraya Krasnitsa, Buryakovka, Chistogalovka and Stechanka in the Kiev Region (the Central Spent Fuel Storage Project for Ukraine’s VVER reactors). The fuel is to come from Khmelnitsky, Rovno and South Ukraine nuclear power plants.
At present, used fuel is mostly transported to a new dry-storage facility at the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Factory in the Krasnoyarsk region, and storage and reprocessing plant Mayak in the Chelyabinsk region; the both facilities are situated in the Russian Federation.
In 2003, Ukraine started to look for alternatives to the Russian storage units. In December 2005, Energoatom signed a 127.8 million euro agreement with the US-based Holtec International to implement the Central Spent Fuel Storage Project for Ukraine’s VVER reactors. Holtec’s work involved design, licensing, construction, commissioning of the facility, and the supply of transport and vertical ventilated dry storage systems for used VVER nuclear fuel. By the end of 2011 Holtec International had to close its office in Kiev as it had come under harsh criticism worldwide. It is widely believed that the company has lost licenses in some countries because of the poor quality of its containers resulting in radiation leaks.  Westinghouse and Holtec are members of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC). Morgan Williams, President/CEO of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, has worked in Ukraine since the 1990’s.
“Today is one of the most important days since Ukraine’s independence as the efforts of these two internationally known companies will go a long way to assuring that Ukraine has greater energy independence,” he said at the ceremony devoted to  Westinghouse Electric Company and Holtec International signing contracts with Ukraine. The President of USUBC added, “This is made more important by the fact that for Ukraine, energy and political independence are closely interdependent. I join all of the USUBC members in toasting the success of these two great member companies, as we all work to assist Ukraine on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration and a strong democratic, private market driven nationhood.”
Morgan Williams is known as a lobbyist representing the interests of Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil in Ukraine. He has direct links with Freedom House which is involved in staging “color revolutions” in Eurasia, North Africa and Latin America.
One more interesting fact to be mentioned here. In Spring 2014 it was reported that according to covert agreements reached between Ukraine’s interim government and its European partners, the nuclear waste coming from EU member states would be stored in Ukraine.  Being in violation of the law, the deal is kept secret. Some high standing officials in Kiev were remunerated. It is said that Alexander Musychko (Sashko Biliy), a prominent nationalist from Rovno, tried to blackmail the Kiev rulers threatening to make the conspiracy public. That’s why he was killed, on the orders of the Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov.
US is the main manager of the self-isolation of the Ukrainian regime from Russia, which has greatly impacted cooperation between two countries, as well as in the area of nuclear security. The administration of the Chernobyl nuclear plant has stated clearly that the process is going in wrong way.

Ukrainian nuclear waste is stored in open air, 120 miles from front line

Note: the unlabeled picture of fire below is of the recent Chernobyl fire.

Posted on Global Research
From RT

Serious concerns have been raised by experts and environmentalists over the ‘shocking’ way spent nuclear fuel is being stored at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, just 200km away from the front line in Donbass.

More than 3,000 spent nuclear fuel rods are being stored in the open air in metal casks close to the perimeter fence at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in conditions that have shocked environmentalists, The Guardian reports.

Nuclear experts say the waste should have another secondary containment structure, such as a building with a roof.

“With a war around the corner, it is shocking that the spent fuel rod containers are standing under the open sky, with just a metal gate and some security guards waltzing up and down for protection. It is unheard of when, in Germany, interim storage operators have been ordered by the court to terror-proof their casks with roofs and reinforced walls,” Patricia Lorenz, a Friends of the Earth nuclear spokeswoman who visited the plant on a fact-finding mission, told the paper.

Although the front line is for now too far away from the nuclear plant to be at any risk, the potential consequences of the conflict engulfing the power station is major worry to locals.

The memory of the Chernobyl explosion in the north of Ukraine 30 years ago, which poisoned vast tracts of land, is still fresh in many people’s minds.

“Given the current state of warfare, I cannot say what could be done to completely protect installations from attack, except to build them on Mars,” said Sergiy Bozhko , the chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU).

The current Zaporizhia nuclear fuel storage unit was built to a US design and did involve testing to withstand a terrorist attack.

However a dry storage container with a bomb resilient roof and contained ventilation system would offer much greater protection.

However this would be impossible to build on the current site and it would have to be constructed somewhere else nearby and then all the nuclear casks would have to be moved inside at even greater expense.

“It is obvious that if you do not have an array of dry cast [interim] [dry cask?] stores with secondary containment around it, then that will have a greater risk of release of radioactive material,” said Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow and European nuclear specialist at Chatham House, London.

Although sources at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) told The Guardian that any request for funding for such a structure would be seriously considered. The bank has already made 300 million euros available to extend the lifespan of Ukraine’s ageing nuclear plants.

Since the conflict in Donbass has severely limited the supply of Russian gas, Ukraine’s reliance on its 15 Soviet-era reactors has increased by 10 percent; the country now gets 60 percent of its energy from nuclear power.

Nuclear energy is one area where Ukraine and Russia still cooperate, and Ukraine still depends almost entirely on Russia’s Rosatom for enriched uranium.

But in the long term Ukraine aims to diversify its nuclear fuel contract between the US company Westinghouse and European companies as well as Rosatom.

But deals with Westinghouse and the French company Areva are still sketchy and market diversification will be slow.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukrainian-nuclear-waste-stored-in-open-air-200km-from-warzone/5449617

Also:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/06/nuclear-waste-stored-in-shocking-way-120-miles-from-ukraine-front-line

Radiation levels spike at Ukrainian Zaporizhyenuclear plant: DPR Official

According to Donetsk People’s Republic official radiation spike was caused by a failed attempt to replace Russian-made fuel rods with US components.

MOSCOW, December 29 (Sputnik) — Radiation levels at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are 14 times higher than normal, according to DPR representative Denis Pushilin cited by LifeNews.

The DPR official claims that the radiation spike was caused by a failed attempt to replace Russian-made fuel rods with US components.

He pointed out that a similar incident had previously occurred at the Temelin nuclear power plant in Czech Republic, prompting the station to switch to Russian-supplied nuclear fuel.

Representatives of the Ukrainian state nuclear corporation, Energoatom, denied Pushilin’s claims and declared that currently, radiation levels at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and in its vicinity are within acceptable parameters.

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20141229/1016364567.html

Other excerpts posted on ENE News, December 29, 2014
http://enenews.com/accident-one-worlds-largest-nuclear-plants-local-official-radiation-14-times-higher-acceptable-norm-area-warns-chernobyl-type-disaster-govt-levels-acceptable-limits-incident-investigation

AP, Dec 29, 2014 (emphasis added): One unit of Ukraine’s Zaporozhiya nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been taken offline… State nuclear power company Energoatom says the unit was disconnected… to prevent internal damage to the generator. It did not give further details, but said radiation in the area is within acceptable limits. It is the second time this month that a unit at the plant has been taken out of service…

The Independent, Dec 28, 2014: Ukraine turns off reactor at its most powerful nuclear plant after ‘accident’; Prime Minister calls for the truth as electrical fault revives memories of Chernobyl… An official statement said the plant was “operating at 40 per cent power… The reasons for the outage are being investigated”… Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, noted the previous outage… urging ministers to tell the truth about “the accident”… In May, the power station was the backdrop to an armed confrontation… the pro-Ukrainian paramilitary force… said it had come to remove “pro-Russian” agitators who, it claimed, had been operating inside the plant.

Rossiya Segodnya (Russian gov’t news agency), Dec 29, 2014: Radiation Levels Spike at Zaporhizhia Nuclear Plant: DPR Official — According to Donetsk People’s Republic official radiation spike was caused by a failed attempt to replace Russian-made fuel rods with US components. Radiation levels at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are 14 times higher than normal, according to DPR representative Denis Pushilin… Energoatom denied Pushilin’s claims…

RFE, Dec 29, 2014: Interfax reported that in a statement on Dec. 28, Pushilin said Ukraine faces “a second Chornobyl” due to Kyiv’s decision to use nuclear fuel supplied by Westinghouse… Westinghouse has a contract to supply some 10 percent to 15 percent of Ukraine’s nuclear fuel.

RFE, Dec 28, 2014: Separatist Official Warns Of Second Chornobyl… Pushilin said “currently the level of radiation is 14 times higher than the acceptable norm” in the area… [Interfax] noted that it could not confirm “from any other source” the separatist official’s claim of dangerous levels of radioactivity.

RT, Dec 29, 2014: Emergency shutdown at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant… This accident took place on Sunday morning… Causes are still being investigated… Two Zaporizhia NPP reactors are to be decommissioned for complete overhaul in February 2015… Throughout 2014 Zaporizhzhya NPP came into the spotlight of world media on several occasions. In May, Ukrainian police prevented a group of armed men… from entering… Then the news came that Kiev had signed a new deal with America’s leading nuclear fuel producer, Westinghouse… This was done despite the fact that using US fuel rods was banned in 2012 due to dangerous incompatibility… In August, Greenpeace expressed concern that Zaporizhia NPP is vulnerable to ‘direct bombardment’ in Ukraine if caught in the conflict.

Video about the initial incident here