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.


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.

Other excerpts posted on ENE News, December 29, 2014

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

Nuclear accident in southeast Ukraine, says PM Yatsenyuk

Below are several articles and links about this situation:

ENE News posted a compilation of reports, 12-3-14:
CNN: Urgent – Emergency repairs reported at largest nuclear power plant in Europe — Prime Minister: I know that a nuclear accident has occurred (VIDEO)
ENE News is an excellent source for nuclear news — Fukushima, Hanford, WIPP New Mexico, USS Ronald Reagan contamination, and more . Many comments posted below the articles have further excellent resources. 
“Nuclear accident” in southeast Ukraine, PM Yatsenyuk says

From Deutsche Welle — DW, December 3, 2014

Ukraine’s government says a nuclear accident has occurred in the country’s southeast. The incident is said to pose no threat, however.

A statement from Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Wednesday said a nuclear accident had taken place in the country’s southeast.

Ukraine’s energy minister said a short circuit led to a drop in production energy production, and insisted it posed no danger.

“The accident happened in the third block of the Zaporozhiya nuclear power plant in the power output section. This is in no way associated with the reactor, Volodymyr Demchyshyn said at a briefing.

“There is no threat … there are no problems with the reactors.” He added the accident affected the power output system “in no way.”

He said the plant would be running at full strength on December 5.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Wednesday that it was informed of the short circuit by Ukrainian authorities that that the nuclear power plant’s reactor remained safely shut down.

Under an international convention, a country should notify the IAEA about a nuclear accident that could affect other nations. The convention was adopted after the 1986 Chernobyl accident in what was then Soviet Ukraine.

Nuclear power accounts for 44 percent of Ukraine’s power production, according to the IAEA.

jr/ksb (Reuters, AFP, AP)


Extensive article on radiation spikes recorded in Latvia corresponding with the time frame for when this accident occurred in SE Ukraine.
Accident confirmed at Ukraine’s Zaporizhye Nuclear Power Plant. (Link to Latvia Radiation Spike possible)


Accident at Ukraine nuclear power plant: reports
By Barbara Kollmeyer
From MarketWatch, December 3, 2014

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Wednesday that an accident has occurred at a nuclear power plant in south-east Ukraine, according to media reports. “I know that an accident has occurred at the Zaporizhye NPP,” Yatseniuk said Wednesday, and he asked new energy minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn to be clear about when the problem will be fixed as it has worsened the power crisis currently in the country. Interfax Ukraine said the accident had occurred at a 1,000-megawatt reactor in bloc No. 3 at the power plant. Interfax said the bloc was due to come back onstream Dec. 5.


DW article from June written with a definite Western perspective:
Ukraine crisis raises risk for nuclear reactors

The article doesn’t explain why a Ukrainian citizen would want to damage a nuclear reactor so that would destroy his or her home. Ukrainian citizens live with Chernobyl and its ongoing damage. Why would they want to cause  more harm? 


For an industry assessment of nuclear power in Ukraine:
Nuclear Power in Ukraine