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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ukraine Parliament considering Bill to renew nuclear ambitions

terrorism-targets-2flag-UkraineBill reviving Ukraine’s nuclear power ambitions goes to parliament  July 31, 20:20 UTC+4 KIEV, July 31. /ITAR-TASS/. A bill restoring Ukraine’s nuclear power status was registered in the national parliament on Thursday amid the ongoing military conflict in the south-eastern regions and strained relations with Russia.

The bill, reviving Ukraine’s nuclear ambitions, was forwarded to the parliament’s security and budget committees………

Nikolai Filatov, head of the all-Ukraine Union of Strategic Missile Forces Veterans, said the restoration of the nuclear power status would take much effort and cost at least one or two annual national budgets but “maintaining [strategic missile forces] in combat readiness would be much less expensive,”

He said that Ukraine was able to create land-based mobile missile systems, “which will pose a threat to a potential enemy”……

Ukraine, which had the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal after the breakup of the USSR, abandoned nuclear weapons under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in exchange for security guarantees from the United States, Russia and Britain.http://en.itar-tass.com/world/743128

August 1, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Serious effects on Europe’s nuclear power if Europe puts sanctions on Russia

exclamation-Smflag-EUSanctions on Russia have potential for nuclear impact, PennEnergy, July 23, 2014  International Digital Editor  Recent events in Ukraine have put Europe’s energy security again under scrutiny, and while there is great concern about the bloc’s vulnerability to Russia retaliating to sanctions by turning of the gas, not as much attention has been paid to the nuclear power aspect.

Russia is highly influential in terms of the EU’s nuclear power capability.

It is an important supplier of the raw material for nuclear fuel, uranium, accounting for 18 per cent of EU supplies.

The BBC reports that 30 per cent of the enrichment work to make uranium suitable for power generation is done by Russian companies.

Meanwhile, many countries within the EU have a significant number of older, Russian-designed nuclear reactors – 18 in all. Finland has two – and all the reactors in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (who are in deals with Russia to build two more) are Russian-designed.

These states are heavily reliant on their nuclear capacity, with 50 per cent of Slovakia’s electricity and 45 per cent of Hungary’s being accounted for by these plants.The fuel for a reactor also has to be supplied in a form – called a fuel assembly – that meets the specifications of the particular reactor, and for Russian-designed nuclear reactors the fuel comes from a Russian company, TVEL. Anything that disrupts the supply of the fuel assemblies needed for these countries’ reactors would be a serious problem for them. A recent European Commission report argued that, “Ideally, diversification of fuel assembly manufacturing should take place, but this would require some technological efforts because of the different reactor designs.”

Because of the implications to countries’ power sectors and, subsequently, their economies, many are reluctant to back aggressive sanctions against Russia……..http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pei/2014/07/sanctions-on-russia-have-potential-for-nuclear-impact.html

July 28, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Russia, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Ukraine’s nuclear reactors now a perilous risk, with the threat of civil war

exclamation-flag-UkraineThe Chilling Threat Of Nuclear Civil War In Ukraine http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article46340.html  Jul 07, 2014 By: Andrew_McKillop Playing With Fire The WNA-World Nuclear Association which tirelessly promotes nuclear power presents Ukraine as a poster child of civil nuclear power. It says that after construction of Ukraine’s first-ever civil nuclear power complex – at Chernobyl in 1970 – Ukraine’s present 15 NPPs (nuclear reactors) grouped into 4 major complexes operated by State monopoly NNEGC Energoatom had a combined capacity of about 13 900 MW and were all VVER-type reactors (mostly VVER-320s) of Soviet design. Using 2009 data, they produced about 48% of Ukraine’s total electricity output of 177 billion kWh of which 4 billion kWh was exported.

Nearly all major Ukrainian NPP complexes are in western Ukraine – with the exception of Zaporijia or Zaporhyzhya, located about 125 kms north of Crimea. Flight time from Crimea in a Mikoyan-Gourevitch 29 (Mig-29 or Su-29) carrying up to 5000 kilograms weight of bombs and missiles can be estimated at about 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Russia’s Crimean forces also have the later navalised enhanced Mig-29K codenamed Fulcrum-D by Nato, with a combat radius of about 1800 kilometres.

The net total capacity of the six-reactor Zaporija complex is given by the WNA as the highest in Europe, at 5718 MW, with the Graveslines complex near Dunkerque in France, operated by France’s EDF as second-largest in Europe at 5400 MW. The radiological inventory of either of these complexes is hundreds of times the radiological output of the single Hiroshima atom bomb of 1945.

Apart from Zaporija-6, all other VVER-320 reactors at the complex were built before 1989 with a 30-year design lifetime. Rather than decommissioning these reactors, and as in other European countries, Ukraine has sought to extend their operating lifetimes. As of March 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) announced a 300 million euro loan for reactor safety upgrading to the end of 2017, matching another 300 million euro loan from Euratom.

In total, EU atomic agencies have provided or intend to provide 1.4 billion euros to extend Ukrainian reactor lifetimes by investing in “up to 87 safety measures addressing design and safety issues”, including national emergency preparedness for NPP accident management.

To be sure, none of this includes deliberate attack by military aircraft on particularly soft NPP targets!

Unsafe (Even In) Peacetime
Soviet design VVERs have a deserved reputation for danger. Accession to the European Union of Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania was delayed solely by the question of shutting down their 8 Soviet-design PWRs (pressurized water reactors).

This was a non-negotiable condition for their entry to the EU.

However and overall in eastern Europe, 11 of the earlier RBMK series of PWRs, and 4 VVER 230s, which preceded the slightly safer 320s still operate. The RBMK series, exactly like early Westinghouse (American) PWRs was directly scaled up from graphite-moderated, water-cooled submarine power reactors. It could be called a “naked reactor” due to its critically low amounts of shielding and cladding. Apart from submarine propulsion, its other main design goal was maximized plutonium production – for bomb material – during operation. Operator safety was a minor concern!

After the Chernobyl accident in April 1986, EU governments were quick to point the finger at RBMK and first-generation VVER 230 reactors in Eastern Europe, mainly to tout the claimed high levels of safety built into Western designs. In the emotive discussions after Chernobyl, Western safety standards were taken as unquestioned yardsticks. The politically-motivated communication on this subject enabled Western governments to avoid shutting down any Western PWRs and no Western construction project was aborted by political decision, due to constant and heavy manipulation of public opinion.

In the run-up to Germany’s reunification, the government in 1989 examined the feasibility of upgrading the six VVER reactors then under construction in East Germany, one of which had just started up. For purely financial reasons the four operating V-230s at Greifswald and an earlier VVER at Rheinsberg were closed in 1990. Although the units under construction could be brought up to Western safety standards, no investor could be found to take on the re-licensing risk. Especially in Germany, the post-Chernobyl reactor safety scare led Siemens to develop the claimed “uber safe PWR’ now called the EPR. Since Siemens complete abandonment of nuclear engineering in 2011, after Fukushima, only France’s Areva continues with this uber-expensive reactor design. Following 9/11, firstly Siemens and then Areva claim that EPRs are able to resist the crash of 1 wide-bodied civil airplane.
No mention is made of potential military attack by fully-armed Mig-29s. Either singly or in groups!

Ukraine’s Nuclear Civil War
Energoatom provides a map of major reactor complexes in Ukraine, mostly located in western Ukraine
http://www.energoatom.kiev.ua/en/map_aes/.

We can note that towns focused for military repression of pro-Russian separatists by the Kiev government – Mariupol, Slovyansk, Luhansk and Donetsk – are like Crimea also about 120 to 150 kilometres from the Zaporija reactor complex. Well before the Flash Mob uprising in Kiev, former Ukrainian minister of Energy and Coal, Eduard Stawicki on January 27 stated that UN IAEA experts were going to arrive in the country with an unscheduled inspection “conditioned with the fact of threats of seizure and blocking Ukrainian thermal, nuclear and hydro power stations. We have permanent inspection regime, but now the situation is very difficult with such tension in the society”.

Since late January there have been several under-reported and nuclear-related actions in Ukraine as tension deepens, such as the brief occupation of the Zaporija complex by 40 Neo-nazi Right Sector actvists from Kiev in May in an action “designed to deter pro-Russian federalists and separatists”. From April 2014, the Kiev government has on several occasions made calls for “Western governments” to provide international monitors and “non-aligned peacekeeping forces” to protect the country’s NPPs, repeatedly stating that major attacks on NPP complexes could release more radiation than Chernobyl and Fukushima combined.

To be sure no action has resulted and all is in place for Ukraine’s civil war to “go nuclear”. The nuclear threat is with no possible doubt yet another reason why Western powers are making sur not to engage Russia in a hot war for the control of Ukraine – but the internal and domestic dynamic of civil war and Kiev’s attempt to suppress pro-Russian activists open the door to a nuclear endgame at any time.

By Andrew McKillop Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author ‘The Doomsday Machine’, Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

 

July 7, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New State of Ukraine planning for nuclear weapons?

 

flag-UkraineUkraine  State Calls for ‘Nuclear Strikes’ (E42)  RT.com June 29, 2014 Parliament moves to quit Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; Nazis ‘regular reconnaissance visits to nuclear power stations'; Billionaire governor, whose Privatbank is top recipient of new IMF bailout, being placed on international wanted list for ‘banned methods of warfare and aggravated murder’.

Seek truth from facts with intelligence expert William Engdahl; economist Professor Michael Hudson; former US intelligence officer Scott Rickard; and the prosecutor who put Yulia Timoshenko’s partner behind bars, Martha Boersch.Watch live on RTSunday June 29 at 0445, 0845, 1245, 1645, 2045 GMT
Monday June 30 at 0045 GMT
For more information, please visit rt.com/schedule/This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.RT:

Nuclear weapons plans in the new gangster state of Ukraine. Coming up.Announcer: Ukraine’s new coalition calls officially for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes”.
Governors on the international wanted list.
And the sordid past of the new oligarch President……….. http://rt.com/shows/the-truthseeker/169176-ukraine-gangste-nuclear-strikes/

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A risky situation – conflict in Ukraine and Ukraine’s nuclear reactors

exclamation-Smflag-UkraineUkraine crisis raises risk for nuclear reactors, DW 10 June 14,  Ukraine’s volatility exacerbates the risk for the country’s 15 Soviet-style nuclear reactors, warn German experts. They demand more attention for the country where the world’s worst nuclear accident took place The recent news of a water shortage due to a broken pipeline affecting thousands in
strife ravaged Eastern Ukraine spells trouble for the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants.

That’s because the security and reliability of a country’s critical infrastructure like its electrical power and water grid is essential to safely run nuclear reactors.

“Once you have decided to operate a nuclear power plant or like in this case a nuclear reactor park, you must guarantee you don’t have unstable social situations and you definitely can’t have a war,” Michael Sailer, chairman of the German Nuclear Waste Management Commission and member of the German Reactor Safety Commission, told DW.

Potential for human error   “We are talking about nuclear power plants that have a high risk even when they are constructed well and properly maintained,” Sailer who also heads Freiburg-based environmental think tank Öko-Institut added. “And in the Ukraine we are talking about the additional problem that there is an increased potential for human error due to less motivated nuclear operators than elsewhere and the fact that the security features of these reactors are a lot weaker than those of modern reactors.”

Ukraine currently has four nuclear power plants with 15 reactors online providing roughly half of the country’s energy needs which makes it practically impossible to shut them down during the crisis. All of the reactors stem from the Soviet era, went on the grid in the 1980s and are similar to the Chernobyl reactor that blew in 1986 causing the worst nuclear accident in history. Ukraine’s largest plant in Zaporizhia is located about 200 kilometers from Donetsk, the epicenter of the clash between pro-Russian militants and the Kyiv government.

Danger of sabotage But it’s not just the maintenance of the technical infrastructure and the motivation of the engineers operating the reactors that has the experts worried. The continued fighting between government and pro-Russian forces including the seizure of buildings raises the risk that the country’s nuclear plants could also be drawn into the mix…….

More attention The Chernobyl ruin serves as a reminder of the danger of nuclear energy

That the command structures particularly in the east of the country are already tenuous and embattled is evidenced by the ongoing fighting, the hostage taking of OSCE observers and the seizures of public buildings. And that this can easily affect critical infrastructure is highlighted by the recent news of a broken water pipeline in Eastern Ukraine.

That’s why – notwithstanding NATO’s assistance – not enough attention is being paid to the security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine, argue the experts.

“It’s really a problem, because only very few people think about this,” said Sailer. Nuclear experts usually don’t focus on such instable situations and the people who are concerned with instable situations like diplomats usually don’t realize how sensitive a nuclear power plant is.”http://www.dw.de/ukraine-crisis-raises-risk-for-nuclear-reactors/a-17694776

June 11, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

USA’s Westinghouse taking over nuclear fuel supplies to Ukraine, despite problems in those fuel assemblies

flag-UkraineChernobyl memories faded? Kiev turns blind eye to disaster risk in nuclear deal with US http://rt.com/news/159848-ukraine-nuclear-deal-westinghouse/ May 19, 2014 In order to alleviate energy dependence on Moscow, the coup-imposed government in Kiev has resurrected a contract Buy-US-nukeswith a US company to supply fuel to Ukraine’s nuclear power plants. Using US fuel rods was banned in 2012 due to dangerous incompatibility.

The rivalry for nuclear fuel supply to Ukraine between Russia’s nuclear fuel cycle company TVEL and America’s Westinghouse took a twist when in April 2014, shortly after the armed coup, Kiev signed a new deal with America’s leading nuclear fuel producer, Westinghouse Electric Company, instead of the Russian TVEL company that has been supplying fuel rods to Ukraine for years.

Russian-BearUkraine’s 4 nuclear power plants constitute a huge part of the country’s energy system. The country’s 15 nuclear reactors produce at least 50 percent (over 13 megawatt) of all electric power generation in Ukraine. All nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors (worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year) has been produced in Russia, which also recycles Ukraine’s nuclear waste.

Moreover, Russia’s Rosatom state-owned nuclear monopoly is currently constructing a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Ukraine, where nuclear fuel rods will be assembled using uranium enriched in Russia.

All in all, Ukraine has relied on Russia in all atomic matters – but the West has muscled in on the relationship.

The Westinghouse Electric Company has been trying to ‘ease’ the former Soviet-bloc countries energy reliance on Russia and enter the market in Eastern Europe for over a decade. For that purpose the company was also using political leverage. Back in 2012, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to convince Czech leaders to pick up America’s Westinghouse as a primary nuclear fuel supply partner instead of Russia, which would create thousands of new jobs in the US.

Actually, Westinghouse has already supplied nuclear fuel to Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear power generator company. In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR-developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor together with Russian fuel rods.

Though nuclear engineers were skeptical of the pilot probe, the government of former president Viktor Yushchenko signed a deal in 2008 with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply, despite the fact that American nuclear fuel is significantly more expensive and technologically different: Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while Americans produce fuel assemblies of square section

This time a batch of 42 fuel assemblies was loaded into three reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant for a standard three-year period of commercial operation.

When in 2012 the time came to replace the fuel assemblies, Ukrainian nuclear engineers found that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core.

Energoatom accused Westinghouse of producing poorly engineered assemblies, whereas Westinghouse countered, accusing the Ukrainian engineers of installing the rods badly.

After the incident the use of American nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine fuel rods were returned to the producer ‘to get fixed’ and Russian experts were summoned to help with the repair of the equipment produced in the USSR. The Energoatom Company lost an estimated $175 million.

Similar problems with Westinghouse fuel assemblies occurred at a number of other USSR-constructed nuclear power plants: NPP Krško in Slovenia, NPP Loviisa in Finland and NPP Temelin in the Czech Republic. All these countries opted to return to time-proved fuel assemblies produced by Russia’s TVEL Company.

Now Ukraine appears to be ready to fall into the same trap twice. The coup-imposed Kiev regime has renewed the 2008 nuclear fuel deal till 2020, to replace 25 percent of the Russian-made fuel rods with an option to “provide more if needed,” reported the Associated Press in April – all this for the sole purpose of ‘diversifying’ supply.

Kiev’s interim authorities may be not familiar with nuclear energy technologies, but they surely have a clue about theconsequences of a Chernobyl-like tragedy.

What happened back in 2012 at Zaporozhskaya NPP could have potentially ended with another Chernobyl, because having unextractable fuel assemblies loaded means a potential loss of control over the fission processes inside the reactor.

But the new Kiev authorities, supported by Washington, are making every effort to cut Ukraine’s economic ties with Russia, so crossing over from Russian nuclear fuel to American sounds attractive to Arseny Yatsenyuk’s government despite the 2012 incident.

Furthermore, Westinghouse won’t recycle its fuel rods when they ‘burn out’, so Ukraine will be spending even more budget money to prepare special storage facilities for nuclear waste. Also, the company may have its sights set on a much-hotter prize.

“This move by Westinghouse is really to secure not just a fuel contract, which will go on for many years, but to put its foot in the door to build a fuel fabrication plant in eastern Ukraine. And that’s what’s most important and that’s what they’re after,” John Large, an independent nuclear analyst from London, told RT.

Experts generally agree that nuclear power plants are constructions that should not undergo drastic transitions. A nuclear reactor demands a coherent structure of operations. The active reactor core is the most dangerous when it comes to the impact it may have on people and the environment. All reactors differ in smallest details, and toying around with them leads to no good,” Evgeny Akimov of the International Union of Nuclear Energy Veterans told RT.

And if something goes wrong, Kiev may find that they are lonely in facing the consequences.

“As far as I know, Westinghouse signs contracts in which the company bears no responsibility, so the burden will lie with Ukraine,” said Rafael Arutyunyan, a nuclear security expert and professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

With Chernobyl and Fukushima being the prime examples, nuclear power is a force to be handled with great care. Yet, Kiev’s actions seem to be dictated by politics rather than risks, even when the consequences may affect not just Ukraine, but the entire European continent.

When the Chernobyl tragedy occurred back in 1986, it was a pure coincidence that Ukraine’s wind direction, usually directed into Europe, changed, sending radioactive fallout in the direction of Russia and Belarus.

In this over-politicized case, European capitals would do well to learn how the wind blows beforehand.

 

May 20, 2014 Posted by | technology, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Chernobyl still a nuclear ticking time bomb

Chernobyl-steel-cover-13Chernobyl: Ukraine’s nuclear time bomb still ticking, SMH, May 17, 2014  Video journalist While the current political tensions in Ukraine continue to threaten stability in the region, an even larger spectre looms in Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. 

Nearly three decades later, recovery from the disaster continues, with construction currently under way on an immense shield designed to entomb the radioactive remains of the reactor that exploded all those years ago.

At nearly 110 metres high and 275 metres wide, and weighing around 32,000 tonnes, the arch-like New Safe Confinement is one of the most complicated feats of modern engineering that, once complete, will be the largest movable structure ever built. It’s designed to last 100 years – the estimated time to finish clean-up at the site.

But the project is already years behind schedule. Though plans have been in the works to contain the leaky, crumbling reactor since 1992, construction on the New Safe Confinement only began in 2010. Originally slated to be finished 2015, developers have now pushed the date back to 2017.

Half of the arch has been assembled so far, but the future of the $2.2 billion project, funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, now hangs in the balance. With Ukraine thrown into an economic crisis and Russia at its borders, there are concerns the shelter may not be completed in time – if at all.

“It is unfortunately a situation which can further deteriorate and it’s very difficult, then, to predict what the impacts on our project will be,” said Vince Novak, director of nuclear safety at the EBRD.

“You must not forget that this is a project about nuclear safety,” Novak said in an interview with The Verge. “And its importance transcends borders and transcends political divisions and differences.”

Adi Roche, head of the NGO Chernobyl Children International, recently returned from a trip to study the progress of the shelter’s construction and describes the situation as a “ticking time bomb”.

“Chernobyl is the old Soviet Union’s deadly legacy to Ukraine and the world has very real reason to be extremely concerned about the ongoing threat it poses, especially at a time of great instability and growing hostility between Ukraine and Russia,” she said.

For many Ukrainians, Chernobyl remains a deep wound, a stark reminder of an era during which government policies of secrecy and corruption bred deep mistrust among the public. ………….

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev admitted in a 2006 opinion piece that the disaster was a catalyst for the dismantling of the USSR.

“The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl . . . was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was an era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that followed,” he wrote……..

With no warnings of the true dangers of radiation, and no basic safety guidelines in place, firefighters had rushed to the scene at Chernobyl completely unaware they were being exposed to lethal doses of radioactive waste. Many of the first responders, as well as workers sent in to help contain the disaster, suffered severe symptoms of acute radiation poisoning within days.

When calculating the human cost of the Chernobyl disaster, figures vary widely. Two workers were killed in the initial explosion, with a further few dozen more deaths linked to the incident. Many claim thousands more died as a result of the aftermath and clean-up operations.

The wider impact of radiation exposure is difficult to measure, however. Over the years, various reports have pointed to rises in fatal cancers among the population as well as the number of children born with genetic defects linked to radiation. Some estimates put the number of people affected as high as a million across Europe, while more conservative figures hover in the tens of thousands. …..Meanwhile, what remains of reactor four is still at risk. Encased in its shoddy, rusting sarcophagus, Chernobyl’s time bomb is just one spontaneous chain reaction away from another disaster. http://www.smh.com.au/world/chernobyl-ukraines-nuclear-time-bomb-still-ticking-20140517-zrfpn.html#ixzz32C5tLeaw

 

May 19, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Effects of Chernobyl radiation over many generations

CHERNOBYL RADIATION EFFECTS: 28 YEARS LATER Green Fudge, Irini Chassiotou May 11th, 2014  “……… Many studies have shown that birds living in the area have eye cataracts or smaller brains, while insects, microbes and other decomposers exhibit abnormal behavior. Changes in abundance, distribution, life history and mutation rates are some more documented negative effects of Chernobyl’s radiation on the region’s plants and animals. In fact, the genetic effects of chronic radiation exposure on each species studied so far have often been subtle and varied and only conclusively shown after many generations.

What’s sure is that different species react to chronic exposure in different ways. Research into low-level radiation since 1986 have demonstrated that, for example, pine trees are more adversely effected by radiation than birch, while migrant barn swallows are more radio-sensitive than resident birds. In another study, winter wheat seeds were taken from the Exclusion Zone a few days after the disaster and they were germinated in uncontaminated soil, producing thousands of different mutant strains.  This resulted to genetically unstable new generations, even 25 years after the accident.

Flora and fauna studies may reveal the effects of long-term radiation exposure on humans, obtaining statistically significant epidemiological data on cancer, which is rather complicated. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government, satisfied with the anecdotal evidence of the zone-based research team, has opened the zone to tourism. Scientists fear that future plans will include repopulating the Exclusion Zone at the earliest opportunity.

May 12, 2014 Posted by | radiation, Ukraine | 1 Comment

9 Ukrainian citizens arrested for smuggling Uranium-235

flag-UkraineReport: Ukrainian Police Arrest 9 Militants Smuggling Uranium-235  Prison Planet, Bradford Thomas  May 8, 2014 Russian news outlet NEWSru.ua reported Monday that Ukrainian police in the Chernovci region arrested  nine militants—eight Ukrainian citizens and one Russian—who were in possession of 1.5 kilos of substance containing Uranium 235, contents that could be used to create a “dirty bomb.”

The car containing the U-235 had foreign plates and was coming from Pridnestrovie (or Transnistria), a Russian military occupied breakaway territory in Moldova………http://www.prisonplanet.com/report-ukrainian-police-arrest-9-militants-smuggling-uranium-235.html

May 10, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

European Union nuclear trash now to be stored in Ukraine

exclamation-Smflag-UkraineNuclear Energy Reactors: U.S. to Turn Ukraine into a “Second Chernobyl”? The Role of Westinghouse http://www.globalresearch.ca/nuclear-energy-reactors-u-s-to-turn-ukraine-into-a-second-chernobyl-the-role-of-westinghouse/5379390 By Leonid Savin Global Research, April 27, 2014 The use of US-produced fuel for Soviet reactors is not compatible with their design and violates the security requirements. It 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 25,

“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 headquartered in Moscow.

The Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom and the Westinghouse Company previously agreed to extend the contract for the supply of US nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants until 2020.

Two years ago, there was a near-miss in Ukrainewhen TVS-W with damaged distancing armatures risked substantial uncontrolled releases 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 faced depressurization of the fuel elements produced by Westinghouse in 2006, followed by the Czech government abandoning the company as a fuel supplier. According to Yuri Nedashkovsky, the president of the country’s state-owned nuclear utility Energoatom, on April 23, 2014 the Ukraine’s interim government ordered   to allocate 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 villages Staraya Krasnitsa, Buryakovka, Chistogalovka and Stechanka in 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 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 on the territory of Russian Federation.In 2003 Ukraine started to look for alternatives to the Russian storages. In December 2005, Energoatom signed a 127, 75 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 several countries because of poor quality of its containers resulting in radiation leaks. Westinghouse and Holtec are members of U.S.-Ukraine Business Council (USUBC).

Morgan Williams, President/CEO of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council, works in Ukraine since the 1990s said at the ceremony devoted to  Westinghouse Electric Company and Holtec International signing contracts with Ukraine in 2008:

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. 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 close ties with Freedom House involved in staging “color revolutions” in Eurasia, North Africa and Latin America.

wastes-1 One more interesting detail is to be mentioned here.  Some time ago it was reported that according to covert agreements reached between the Ukraine’s interim government and its European partners, the nuclear waste coming from the EU member states will be stored in Ukraine. 

Being in violation of law the deal is kept secret.

Leonid Savin is an Russian expert on international conflicts, editor-in-chief of Geopolitica.ru news, analysis and forecast online journal.

April 28, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors are a military TARGET, as Ukraine crisis shows

flag-UkraineWhy Ukraine’s nuclear power plant crisis has far-reaching ramifications, Adelaide Advertiser, Jim Green , 22 April 14  IT seems likely that Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors will continue operating throughout the unfolding political crisis, and that there will be no attacks on Ukraine’s nuclear plants despite reported threats. Nonetheless the crisis has wideranging nuclear dimensions and ramifications.

Perhaps the most important is that the nuclear security threats draw attention to a question that may, sooner or later, seal the fate of nuclear power: what happens when nuclear-powered nations go to war? Continue operating power reactors and hope that they will not be attacked?

It’s a huge dilemma. There’s no dispute that most nation-states have the military wherewithal to destroy reactors, resulting in widespread radioactive fallout. But for countries such as Ukraine, with a heavy reliance on nuclear power for electricity supply, shutting down reactors would also be highly problematic.

There is a history of nation-states attacking ostensibly peaceful nuclear facilities, such as the destruction of research reactors in Iraq by Israel and the US.

Ukraine’s 15 power reactors are spread across four sites. Nuclear power supplied 44 per cent of Ukraine’s electricity last year – that heavy dependence presumably explains the decision to continue operating reactors despite security concerns.

Protesters seized the headquarters of Ukraine’s energy ministry on January 25, but left hours later. Eduard Stavitskiy, Ukraine’s then energy minister, reportedly said all the country’s nuclear power facilities were put on high alert after the seizure.

In late January, Ukraine’s Security Service reported “anonymous threats to blow up hydropower and nuclear power plants, damage to which may have unforeseen and extremely serious consequences for the population of Ukraine and neighbouring states.” On March 2, Ukraine’s parliament called for international assistance to protect its nuclear power plants……..http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/why-ukraines-nuclear-power-plant-crisis-has-farreaching-ramifications/story-fni6unxq-1226891431319

April 23, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The dangerous myth of “Chernobyl wild paradise”

highly-recommendedDecay takes a holiday: the wickedness beneath the “Chernobyl wild paradise” myth and the rotten implications for ecosystems and radiation science http://www.beyondnuclear.org/russia-ussr/2014/4/18/decay-takes-a-holiday-the-wickedness-beneath-the-chernobyl-w.html 21 April 14 

Zombie forest?

April 26, 2014 will mark 28 years since the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded causing an unprecedented nuclear catastrophe. In a creepy revelation, the forests around Chernobyl are having difficulty decomposing. A recently published study indicates that forest matter in the contaminated areas around Chernobyl is taking years or even decades longer to decay than it should. In the areas with low radiation, 70 to 90 percent of the leaves were gone after a year. Where radiation levels were higher, “leaves retained around 60 percent of their original weight…”(Smithsonian.comThis indicates a fundamental disruption to the natural cycle of death feeding life, and calls into question the forest’s longer-term viability. Creatures responsible for decay such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects, are essential components of any ecosystem because they recycle organic material back into the soil. Unfortunately, they do not function properly in the areas around Chernobyl, leaving a forest full of “petrified-looking pine trees that no longer seem capable of rotting.” GIZMODO

Map-Chernobyl_FALLOUT

 

Radiation’s effect on decay processes should be expected, considering how it impacts microbes in food; or considering the results of a bizarre, cavalier and extremely ill-advised series of experiments performed using a “naked reactor” in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. These experiments intentionally irradiated a number of varying materials and forest land 40 miles north of Atlanta, GA. Wood subjected to this radiation was produced in small-scale and called “Lockwood”, for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation who operated the Georgia Nuclear Laboratory. The building and land is still contaminated with radionuclides.

The lack of decomposer activity has researchers worried that nutrients which trees require for grow are not being recycled, causing trees in the area to grow more slowly.  Improper plant decay has potential implications for animal decay as well, although there do not appear to be any Chernobyl studies investigating this yet.

Actual in-the-field examinations of regions contaminated by radioactivity from Chernobyl also reveal evidence for increased mutation rates, abnormal sperm with reduced swimming ability, developmental abnormalities, cataractstumors, smaller brains in both birds and mammals, and decreased tree growth rates, a finding of fundamental importance for ecosystem functioning that likely relates to effects on the microbial community. Fewer spiders and insects including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Animals and plants show other impacts of radiation after the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the US and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, who collaborated on many of these studies, contends that, fundamentally, this evidence indicates  low-dose rate exposures cause significant measurable impacts for the biota inhabiting contaminated regions of Chernobyl. Further, this evidence supports a hypothesis that suggests effects down to very low levels.  Further implications for Fukushima should not be ignored.

Humans and animals alike: healthy looking on the outside, disintegrating on the inside

Referencing studies summarized in his book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, Alexey Yablokov states:

“Wildlife in the heavily contaminated Chernobyl zone sometimes appears to flourish, but the appearance is deceptive,” says Yablokov. “Levels of incorporated radionuclides remain dangerously high for mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish. Long-term observations of both wild and experimental animal populations in the heavily contaminated areas show significant increases in morbidity and mortality that bear a striking resemblance to changes in the health of humans – increased occurrence of tumours and immuno­deficiencies, decreased life expectancy, early aging, changes in blood and the circulatory system, malformations, and other factors that compromise health.

“All of the populations of plants, fishes, amphibians and mammals studied there are in poor condition,” he continues. “This zone is analogous to a ‘black hole’, in which there is accelerated genetic degeneration of large animals – some species may only persist there via immigration from uncontaminated areas. The Chernobyl zone is a micro-evolutionary ‘boiler’, where gene pools of living creatures are actively transforming, with unpredictable consequences. We ignore these findings at our peril.”

Dr. Yablokov’s statement deftly presents the dichotomy between what is observed by a dilettante’s eye – such as lots of members in a wild animal population — versus what is actually happening to these members over time. What is happening to this wildlife has parallel implications for human health.

So where did this “paradise for wildlife” and “biodiversity sanctuary” myth come from? In 2006 the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear power promoter and a member body of the United Nations, released a report entitled Environmental Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident and their Remediation: Twenty Years of Experience. This report references the creation of a nature preserve within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and remarks Without a permanent residence of humans for 20 years, the ecosystems around the Chernobyl site are now flourishing. The CEZ has become a wildlife sanctuary…, and it looks like the nature park it has become.” From another report: “Indeed, the Exclusion Zone has paradoxically become a unique sanctuary for biodiversity.”

The Chernobyl Forum coalition makes this statement in support of “unique biodiversity” in spite of their recognition that “Genetic effects of radiation, in both somatic and germ cells, have been observed in plants and animals of the Exclusion Zone during the first few years after the Chernobyl accident. Both in the Exclusion Zone, and beyond, different cytogenetic anomalies attributable to radiation continue to be reported from experimental studies performed on plants and animals.” They conclude, however, “[w]hether the observed cytogenetic anomalies in somatic cells have any detrimental biological significance is not known.” In order to know this, one has to actually look.

The study summaries compiled by Alexey Yablokov, et al. (studies which had been mostly unavailable in the west until 2009) and the published examinations of researchers Mousseau, et al., indicate rather strongly that there is significant biological detriment to wildlife in the contaminated areas surrounding Chernobyl. And unlike these studies, the Chernobyl Forum documents provide very few references (under ten total) for any claims they make regarding the flourishing of wildlife.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Belarus, environment, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Renewable energy – Ukraine’s road to energy independence

renewable_energyflag-UkraineRenewables seen as Ukraine’s road to energy independence from Russia http://rt.com/business/ukraine-seeks-renewable-energy-396/ April 18, 2014  As a way of becoming less reliant on Russian conventional energy Ukraine is talking to US investors who want to put money into alternative energy like wind and solar.

Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine indeed brought energy security concerns to the fore,” as Bloomberg quotes Olexander Motsyk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US said at a renewable-energy conference in Washington on Thursday. “I strongly believe the time has come for US investors to discover Ukraine, especially its energy.

To get away from Russian natural gas as the primary source for heat and electric power, Ukraine seeks wants to invest in biomass heat plants, wind and solar power.

US and European officials have been trying to find ways to help Ukraine limit its dependence, including the possibility of US approval to export liquefied natural gas.

Vadym Glamazdin, the managing director of the Energy Industry Research Center (EIRC) suggests heating in Ukraine accounts for about 40 percent of all gas imported from Russia. This could be replaced with renewable energy within three to five years.

According to his words by 2030, renewables could account for about 15 percent of Ukraine’s electricity supply, currently it is only 2 percent.

The EIRC research shows that the most likely and adoptable form of renewable energy for Ukraine are biomass and biogas, as the nation’s network of electric-power lines and substations can’t easily adjust to the addition of significant amounts of wind and solar energy.

The resources are there,” now the major challenge is to attract investment, Todd Foley, a senior vice president for policy and government relations at the American Council on Renewable Energy said.

One biomass plant could replace 24,000 natural gas boilers EIRC officials said.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

West now keen to market nuclear fuel to Ukraine

flag-UkraineWestinghouse, Ukraine Near Deal on Nuclear Fuel for Reactors Extension of Contract Could Also Lessen Reliance of Other Former Communist States on Russia WSJ, By  SEAN
Buy-US-nukesCARNEY  April 3, 2014 
The United States and Ukraine are on the verge of deepening their ties in nuclear energy while lessening the influence of Russia on the former Soviet state’s economy and geopolitical orientation.

Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co. on Thursday said it’s in negotiations to extend its contract with Ukraine’s Energoatom and supply nuclear fuel for three reactors, a deal that would bolster Ukraine’s commitment to long-term cooperation with the West.

“Westinghouse is currently in discussions with Energoatom to agree on an amended fuel supply contract,” Westinghouse spokesman Hans Korteweg said.

Ilona Zayets, spokeswoman for state-owned Energoatom, said the two sides were in final negotiations on the deal and added that Energoatom hopes to sign the contract next week……….

The nuclear contract being negotiated would renew and extend for an unspecified number of years an existing fuel contract between Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, and Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom. ……..

A senior Westinghouse official late last year said the fuel deal is worth roughly $100 million for a five-year supply and that a renewal of the Ukraine supply contract was essential for the company in keeping its Swedish fuel processing plant in operation.

The Swedish plant is the sole non-Russian facility globally that produces fuel for use in Russian-designed reactors used in EU countries, and it is a crucial outpost as the West aims to check Russian influence in Europe’s eastern regions.

If the deal goes through as expected, it would also provide the Czech Republic and Bulgaria—which both have Russian VVER 1000-type reactors—with an alternative supplier of nuclear fuel in years to come.

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom and Westinghouse are the only producers of fuel for this reactor type.

Czech utility CEZ AS early in the last decade used Westinghouse fuel but later switched to Russian-made fuel.

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, which is the primary nuclear fuel supplier to Ukraine as well as most post-communist countries in Europe that use Russian VVER-type reactors, wasn’t immediately available to comment. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303847804579479543798143068?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303847804579479543798143068.html

April 4, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine, Uranium | Leave a comment

Thanks to Putin, the Pentagon can push their case for new nuclear weapons

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-UkraineUkraine Fallout: Putin Hands The Pentagon A Rationale For New Nuclear Weapons Loren Thompson, Forbes 20 Mar 14 There’s a plausible case to be made that Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea after 60 years of being attached to the Ukraine isn’t all that important, and the West is over-reacting.  Well don’t expect to find anybody in Washington pushing that view.  Today’s Washington Post features a lead editorial entitled, “A Dangerous Russian Doctrine,” and all four essays on the op-ed page explore the ominous implications of what Vladimir Putin has done.  The persistent drumbeat of disquieting coverage and commentary about Ukraine reminds me of a term I used often when I taught nuclear strategy at Georgetown — overkill.

 The North Atlantic Alliance isn’t likely to do anything direct or meaningful about Putin’s fait accompli, but the wheels are already turning within defense ministries and military think tanks about what indirect steps might be taken to deter further adventurism by Moscow.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this debate will end up in Washington: the delicate balance of terror — the nuclear balance — is back on the table as an active concern.  Why?  Because the White House was already reorienting (no pun intended) America’s military posture to East Asia, where both of our prospective adversaries possess atomic weapons, and now the world’s other nuclear superpower, Russia, has muscled its way back into U.S. military calculations.

As chance would have it, this strategic shift occurs at precisely the moment when modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has become a major issue among military planners. ……..   The Pentagon has plans for developing new subs and bombers before the current arsenal has to be retired, but funding is problematic — particularly with spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Although President Obama has not interfered with these plans, he has been more focused on arms control as a solution to the nation’s nuclear security.  …….

it  is inevitable that Pentagon officials will use the Ukraine crisis to build political support for their nuclear plans.  ……….

  Many people in Washington might have been prepared to forego spending money on a new generation of nuclear weapons before Putin made his move, but he has now changed the strategic calculation. http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2014/03/20/ukraine-fallout-putin-hands-the-pentagon-a-rationale-for-new-nuclear-weapons/

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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