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Giant solar farm to be built on Ukraine’s land contaminated by Chernobyl radiation

Solar power to rise from Chernobyl’s nuclear ashes, Guardian, Kieran Cooke, 12 Jan 17 
Chinese companies plan to spend $1bn building a giant solar farm on land contaminated by the nuclear disaster in Ukraine, reports Climate News Network 
It was the worst nuclear accident in history, directly causing the deaths of 50 people, with at least an additional 4,000 fatalities believed to be caused by exposure to radiation.

The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine also resulted in vast areas of land being contaminated by nuclear fallout, with a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, which encompassed the town of Pripyat, being declared in the area round the facility.

Now two companies from China plan to build a one-gigawatt solar power plant on 2,500 hectares of land in the exclusion zone to the south of the Chernobyl plant.

Ukrainian officials say the companies estimate they will spend up to $1bn on the project over the next two years…….

Radiation that escaped as a result of the explosion at Chernobyl reached as far away as the mountains and hills of Wales in the UK, and a substantial portion of the radioactive dust released fell on farmlands in Belarus, north of Ukraine.

Until now, the exclusion zone, including the town of Pripyat, has been out of bounds for most people, with only limited farming activity permitted on lands that are still regarded as contaminated.

Many former residents of the area are allowed back only once or twice a year for visits – to their old homes or to tend their relatives’ graves. …..

As yet, neither the Ukrainians nor the Chinese have disclosed the safety measures that will be adopted during the construction of the solar plant……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/12/solar-power-to-rise-from-chernobyls-nuclear-ashes

January 13, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Film: Chernobyl disaster’s continuing impact on the children

 

Full Documentary Films – Children of Chernobyl – Discovery Channel Documentaries

It’s Been 30 Years And Chernobyl Is Still Having An Impact – Especially On The Children http://goodstuffbuzz.com/30-years-chernobyl/   [excellent photos] On that fateful day in April of 1986, many already knew what the future would hold. While nuclear power we being sold as the “safe” alternative to our addiction to fossil fuels, we had already dodged a bullet with Three Mile Island. In fact, a meltdown was a more frightening (and possible) prospect than an all out global exchange of bombs with our enemies.
 
These Are The Faces Of Chernobyl, Both Good 

And Not So

Still, when it happened, when Russia finally had to come clean and explain what had happened at Chernobyl, the writing was all over the wall. Nuclear power would become a pariah. An entire industry and science would have to answer for what happened halfway across the planet, and watchful eyes would be set on the city surrounding the power plant. How would this accident affect the population, and what lessons could we learn about the release of so much radiation into the atmosphere?
Many Feel The Russian Government Has Abandoned Them
Part of the answer comes in a terrifying documentary – included here – called The Children of Chernobyl. Both literal and figurative, the film follows the decades since a main reactor went down and sent fatal fallout throughout the countryside. It addresses both the international concerns and the local lies. Even now, in a more open society, Russia is still secret about the consequences of the leak. This movie makes it clear about what really happened.
Especially, The Children

Particularly, The Children

The high levels of radiation had random effects on the people of Chernobyl as well as those in the outlying areas. Animals died. Land became barren. And in one of the most heartbreaking consequences, children were born with various genetic and biological aberrations. These “mutants” became an embarrassment for the government and their treatment will anger you. Thirty years ago, the world got as close to a full blown nuclear meltdown as we are likely to ever see. The aftermath continues to linger, and anger.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | children, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

A personal story of Chernobyl’s environmental effects

text-from-the-archivesthe Prypiat River [Ukraine] flowing through the empty town and nuclear power plant was already a black, dead waterway. Not one bird flew or stray cat mewed….Reindeer [Norway] with ultra-high levels of radioactivity were killed that winter’s day. Many were calves.

Nuclear not for Tassie   – The Mercury – The Voice of Tasmania, 26 March, 2011, Two of my own most memorable experiences as a journalist over the past three decades are linked to nuclear energy.
Chernobyl 1986The first was in late 1986 when, just a few months after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine region of the then-Soviet Union, I visited the site as one of the first Australian journalists allowed into the area.The burnt and melted-down nuclear reactor had not then been encased in its final concrete sarcophagus; Geiger counters and special suits were mandatory, and the closest we could go was the nearby deserted town of Prypiat.
But it was Prypiat rather than glimpses of the Chernobyl power plant 4km away that left the most chilling impression.

A thriving town of 49,000 people think all of Hobart’s Eastern Shore suburbs combined prior to the April 25, 1986, nuclear catastrophe.

Its residents all had to abandon their homes the following day after radiation reached fatal levels.

Not that the Soviet authorities immediately told locals a disaster was unfolding on their doorsteps, despite the new “glasnost” era of openness and transparency just proclaimed by new-look president Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was only when elevated radiation levels were detected in clouds above Sweden that night that Soviet officials finally admitted an accident and a fire had occurred at Chernobyl’s number 4 nuclear reactor earlier in the afternoon.

Visiting Prypiat a few months later was a haunting experience. Mouldy lunches and mugs still sat on kitchen tables, dusty coats were thrown over armchairs and bedrooms with their crumpled blankets and family snaps looked as if their occupants might return at any moment.

Prypiat-1990s-before-forest

Children’s toys and bikes were scattered around outside the concrete apartment blocks, as rampant weeds reclaimed the ghost town’s city square.

But the Prypiat River flowing through the empty town and nuclear power plant was already a black, dead waterway. Not one bird flew or stray cat mewed.

Just two months later, I was on assignment in the snowy wilds of northern Norway with a family of traditional reindeer herders, in the dark December days of early winter.

For these families, who have for generations grazed their herds up on the mountain tops and who eat reindeer meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of their reindeer-centric tradition 1986 was a terrible watershed year.

Chernobyl’s radioactive cloud had drifted over Norway for several days in late April, dropping its deadly heavy caesium molecules in spring rain and mist.

The lichen that grow above the snowline absorbed the radioactive load; turning these hardy plants into deadly fodder for the deer, which rely on them as food.

For the first time, the semi-wild reindeer herds had to be removed from the mountains, possibly for decades, as the lichen would not be fit to eat for many years. Instead they were ordered into barns to be fed hay brought in from other areas of Norway.

Reindeer with ultra-high levels of radioactivity were killed that winter’s day. Many were calves.

And later that night Norwegian Government experts delivered another fatal blow. They told the same herders reindeer meat could not be safely eaten more than twice a week until years later, when their herds would be free of all radioactive contamination.

It has been impossible not to reflect on my own two sombre brushes with nuclear power gone wrong, as the world has held its breath over the past two weeks wondering how close Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has been to the total core meltdown experienced at Chernobyl.

Already water and milk on parts of Japan has been declared unsafe for drinking, leafy vegetables and crops in surrounding farms banned from sale and seaweed from nearby waters found to be contaminated…….

Nuclear not for Tassie Editorial – The Mercury – The Voice of Tasmania

December 24, 2016 Posted by | environment, history, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Radical Ukrainian politician Oleg Lyashko wants nuclear weapons

Radical MPs bid to make Ukraine nuclear again, Rt.com : 6 Dec, 2016  The Radical Party faction of the Ukrainian parliament is seeking to withdraw Ukraine’s membership of the 1968 international treaty which bans the development of nuclear weapons and keeps nuclear technology in check.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes only five nations as legitimate possessors of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. A handful of UN members are not signatories to the treaty, including Pakistan and India, which were never part of the NPT but have nuclear weapons of their own, and North Korea, which withdrew in 2003 to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Now Kiev may follow Pyongyang’s example if the Radical Party faction in parliament has its way. The party’s leader, Oleg Lyashko, has long called for the government to restore the country’s nuclear capability, which Ukraine briefly possessed in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The number of nuclear warheads deployed on Ukrainian territory by the USSR was only behind those possessed by Russia and the US. But by 1996, all of them had been handed over to Russia, which was busy dismantling a large portion of the costly Soviet nuclear stockpile.

In 1994, Ukraine was given security assurances by Russia, the US and the UK in the so-called Budapest Memorandum in exchange for its accession to the NTP. Similar documents were signed with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which were in a comparable position. China and France gave milder commitments to Ukraine in separate statements……..

Lyashko is a populist politician with a strongly nationalist voter base, and is well known for his publicity stunts. His bill to restore Ukraine’s nuclear status was registered in parliament Tuesday. A date for a committee discussion on the issue is yet to be set.

Ukraine’s ability to actually produce a nuclear weapon remains in question. While numerous research and production facilities based in what now is Ukraine were involved in building the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the country’s current economic troubles and technological backslide would make constructing even a simple nuclear device a major challenge – even if the Ukrainian government does undertake such a project.

Historically, only Pakistan and India have openly acquired nuclear capabilities without being alienated from the international community. …..https://www.rt.com/news/369363-ukraine-wants-nuclear-weapons/

December 7, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear reactor now encased in steel tomb

Chernobyl reactor entombed in giant steel shield 30 years after worst nuclear disaster in history [Excellent photos] Mirror, 1 Dec 16 Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off.  Built with bolts from Wrexham and overseen by a man from Bury, this gigantic steel shield encases the reactor responsible for the worst nuclear disaster in history.

diagram-Chernobyl-sarcophag

Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off. Six years in the making, the 108-metre-high arch is the largest moveable land structure ever built. Its completion brings an end to a nightmare that has scarred two generations.

At a ceremony inside the radiation exclusion zone in Ukraine, British engineer David Driscoll, 66, told of his vital role as health and safety manager overseeing one of the most daunting construction projects ever undertaken….

The shimmering steel structure looms large over the frozen wasteland rendered uninhabitable by the catastrophe on 26 April, 1986.

More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the weeks afterwards as the then Soviet Union government slowly reacted to the poisoned legacy of the leak.

Deserted houses by the roadside in the exclusion zone have been slowly devoured by the forest.

In Pripyat, the Soviet city next to Chernobyl, the shells of deserted apartment blocks serve as a permanent reminder of the scale of the catastrophe.

At the top of one tower block is a faded Communist hammer and sickle………

Waterproof and temperature-controlled, the structure is fitted with an overhead crane to allow for the future dismantling of the previous, crumbling Soviet-era shelter and the remains of reactor four.

Igor Gramotkin, director-general of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, said: “We were not building this arch for ourselves.

“We were building it for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.

“This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us.”

Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, said of the completion of the project: “The sliding of the arch over reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/chernobyl-reactor-entombed-giant-steel-9360959

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Dangerous history of Chernobyl’s shattered nuclear power plant, and the latest effort to contain radiation

Giant new dome set to keep Chernobyl safe for generations http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/world/giant-new-dome-set-keep-chernobyl-safe-generations/#.WDtMp9J97Gh
AFP-JIJI  NOV 27, 2016  CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE – The world’s largest metal moveable structure will be unveiled Tuesday over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s doomed fourth reactor in Ukraine to ensure the safety of future generations across Europe.  
The giant arch — nearly as long as two soccer fields and taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty — will edge into place over an existing crumbling dome that the Soviets constructed in haste when disaster struck three decades ago on April 26.

Chernobyl-tomb-14

 Radioactive fallout from the site of the world’s worst civil nuclear accident contaminated Ukraine and spread across three-quarters of Europe.

Work on the previous safety dome began after a 10-day fire caused by the explosion was contained but as radiation still spewed. “It was done through the superhuman efforts of thousands of ordinary people,” the Chernobyl museum’s deputy chief Anna Korolevska said. “What kind of protective gear could they have possibly had? They worked in regular construction clothes.”

About 30 of the cleanup workers known as liquidators were killed on site or died from overwhelming radiation poisoning in the following weeks. The toll from the accident caused by errors during an experimental safety check remains under dispute because the Soviet authorities did their best to cover up the tragedy.

Kiev held a May Day parade as invisible contamination spread over the city while then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev only admitted on May 14 that something had gone terribly wrong.

A United Nations estimate in 2005 said around 4,000 people had either been killed or were left dying from cancer and other related disease. But the Greenpeace environmental protection group believes the figure may be closer to 100,000. The authorities maintain a 30-kilometer-wide (19-mile-wide) exclusion zone around the plant in which only a few dozen elderly people live.

Concerns over the safety of the disintegrating concrete shelter — built by 90,000 people in just 206 days — prompted the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to spearhead a 2.1-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) project to install a new safety dome.

The numerous problems with the Soviet-era solution included the fact that the protective structure only had a 30-year lifespan. Yet its deterioration began much sooner than that. “Radioactive dust inside the structure is being blown out through the cracks,” Sergiy Paskevych of Ukraine’s Institute of Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems said.

Paskevych added that the existing structure could crumble under extreme weather.“This would especially be a potential problem if there was a tornado or an earthquake,” Paskevych said.

The new arch should be able to withstand tremors of 6.0 magnitude — a strength rarely seen in eastern Europe — and tornados the likes of which strike the region once every million years.

Chernobyl’s dangers are real but Kiev complains Europe’s help took a long time coming. The EBRD found 40 state sponsors to fund a competition in 2007 to choose who should build a moveable dome the likes of which the world had never seen. A French consortium of two companies known as Novarka finished the designs in 2010 and began construction two years later.

The shelter was edged toward the fourth reactor in just under three weeks of delicate work this month that was interrupted by inclement weather and other potential dangers. It will later be fitted with radiation control equipment as well as air vents and fire protective measures.

That equipment inside the arch is due to start working by the end of 2017.

“And only then will we begin to disassemble the old, unstable structure,” the head of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspections agency Sergiy Bozhko said.

But he said no time frame had yet been set for the truly hazardous work of removing all the remaining nuclear fuel from inside the plant or taking apart the old dome. “Those decisions will be made based on future studies,” Bozhko said.

Novarka believes that its arch will keep the continent safe from nuclear fallout for the next 100 years.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

China now marketing its nukes to Ukraine

Buy-China-nukes-1Energoatom expands cooperation with CNNP, NASA and IDOM Nuclear Services, WNN 08 November 2016 Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has agreed to enhance its cooperation with Chinese, Argentinian and Spanish companies – respectively, China National Nuclear Power (CNNP), Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NASA) and IDOM Nuclear Services………

Energoatom, which is also state-owned, operates four nuclear power plants – Zaporozhe, Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky – which comprise 15 nuclear reactors, including 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe. In July last year, the Ukrainian government approved a pilot project, named the “energy bridge”, to transfer electricity from unit 2 of the Khmelnitsky plant to the European Union.

Representatives from CNNP, which is a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation, presented its strategy to upgrade units at the Tianwan nuclear power plant. Beijing-based CNNP operates 12 nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 9773 MWe……..http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Energoatom-expands-cooperation-with-CNNP-NASA-and-IDOM-Nuclear-Services-08111601.html

November 11, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Ukraine (over) confident of its nuclear waste storage plans

Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate approves preliminary spent nuclear fuel storage facility safety report http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/381495.html, 4 Nov 16,  A panel of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate at a Thursday meeting approved a conclusion of the public examination of nuclear and radiation security under a preliminary safety analysis report for the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility.

“Thus, the panel confirmed that the spent nuclear fuel storage facility project meets the nuclear and radiation safety requirements. According to a resolution of the panel, some project safety solutions shortly described in the project will be presented in details at the next designing stage,” the press service of national nuclear generating company Energoatom said.

The conclusion will be sent to the State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate of Ukraine.

Energoatom President Yuriy Nedashkovsky said at the meeting of the panel, the discussion of the issues linked to construction of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility should be accelerated.

“Technologies and project solutions selected for construction of the facility meet international spent nuclear treatment requirements and ensure reliable and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs). The feasibility study of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility passed public environmental examination and obtained a positive conclusion. Today all organization and legal issues related to construction of the storage facility have been settled. A delay with the start of construction would entail further financial losses for Ukraine, while the launch of the facility would considerably increase the country’s energy security,” he said.

Head of State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate Serhiy Bozhko said that construction of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities is permanent global practice, but today this solution is only an intermediate link in settling the issue of treading spent nuclear fuel in a long-term outlook.

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Ukraine decides to cease paying Russia for nuclear waste disposal

wastes-1flag-UkraineUkraine to stop paying Russia for nuclear waste disposal Rt.com : 21 Oct, 2016 From next year Ukraine is not going to pay Russia $200 million annually to remove spent nuclear fuel from the country, according to Ukrainian Energy Minister IgorNasalik.

The country will build its own spent nuclear fuel storage facility, the minister announced.

The storage site chosen is in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power, but it is not designed to store nuclear waste for a long time.

The exclusion zone is a 30-kilometer radius from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant established by the USSR soon after the 1986 accident.

Construction of the new central used fuel storage facility is expected to start in March 2017, according to a director of a subsidiary of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom.

European nuclear industry experts are concerned the Ukrainian project does not meet standards for nuclear safety and creates a risk of a radioactive accident.

In August, the former director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Mikhail Umanets warned of the rising number of emergency situations in Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector, stressing the country would face a “collapse” in the sector within seven years……https://www.rt.com/business/363655-ukraine-nuclear-waste-russia/

 

October 22, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

European institutions unwise to be backing Ukraine’s dangerous nuclear reactors

On the domestic front, opposition to nuclear decision-making is silenced. Our colleagues in Ukraine, who have been voicing safety concerns, were sued in 2015 by Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear operator, and the state nuclear regulator joined in later. Eventually, the court backed the plaintiffs, who argued the public critique of the nuclear revival programme was inappropriate. Meanwhile, EU institutions keep on paying to support Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet and claim to support democracy and rule of law in the country. 

New life for Ukraine’s aging nuclear power plants  https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/iryna-holovko-dana-marekova/new-life-for-ukraine-s-aging-nuclear-power-plants IRYNA HOLOVKO and DANA MAREKOVA 14 October 2016 European institutions are helping Ukraine extend its already outdated nuclear operations — increasing short-term risks and halting energy alternatives for the future. In the past few weeks, two of Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear reactors received a lease on life for an additional 10 years beyond their originally projected life-span. Units 1 and 2 at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, are the fifth and sixth units to have their expiry dates extended by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. This is a dangerous move, which violates international law and democratic principles.

Map-Ukraine-nuke-reactors

Nuclear proponents, Ukrainian governmental officials and the state nuclear power operator Energoatom argue these extensions are necessary. But is it really? And who benefits from the continued operation of Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet? Continue reading

October 15, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

How three brave Chernobyl workers saved Europe from nuclear catastrophe

exclamation-Despite Three Mile Island, Daiichi Power Plant in Japan and Chernobyl, the industry still poo-poos the danger. At Chernobyl, after the initial explosion, the 185 tons of melting nuclear waste was still melting down. When it reached the water a thermonuclear explosion would have occurred. It was estimated it would have wiped out half of Europe and made Europe, Ukraine and parts of Russia uninhabitable for 500,000 years. This was prevented when three workers volunteered to dive in the radioactive water and open the valves to drain the pool and prevent a second explosion, knowing it would mean death by radioactive poisoning. They succeeded in draining the pool, but died of radiation sickness within a few weeks. Their bodies remained radioactive and were buried in lead coffins.

  If a similar “incident,” as the nuclear industry insists they be called, happens in Clinton, do you think Rep. Bill Mitchell, the Clinton School Board, DeWitt County Board of any of the 700 workers or any other advocates of keeping the plant open will step forward?

October 10, 2016 Posted by | history, incidents, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Ukraine joining the renewable energy revolution

Solar on the steppe: Ukraine embraces renewables revolution  Former Soviet nation bids for independence from Russian fossil fuels. Nature Quirin Schiermeier 28 September 2016 Wind and solar power are wallflowers in oil- and gas-rich Russia. Not so in neighbouring Ukraine. With fears about Russian hegemony at a peak, the former Soviet republic is ready to join the renewables revolution.

“Energy independence has become a matter of national security for Ukraine,” says Sergiy Savchuk, head of the state agency on energy efficiency and energy saving in Kiev. “That’s why renewable-energy development is now a priority issue for the Ukrainian government.”

In July, Ukrainian environment minister Ostap Semerak unveiled plans to build a large solar power plant and a biogas facility in the wasteland around the former Chernobyl reactor.

The announcement came just two weeks after parliament reopened the state-owned exclusion zone around the shuttered nuclear site to development for business and science.

The Chernobyl energy project will cost around US$1.1 billion, a sum that means substantial foreign investment is required. It is part of Ukraine’s broader ambition to step up renewable-energy capacity. According to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan adopted in 2014, the government aims to almost triple capacity for electricity production, transport and heating by 2020 — from its current level of around 9.3 gigawatts to more than 26 gigawatts. Renewables would then supply about 11% of all energy consumed in Ukraine……..

Ukraine has significant untapped renewable-energy potential, finds a 2015 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — enough to support the 2014 plan. The largest country to lie entirely within Europe (Turkey and Russia are mostly in Asia), it gets more sunshine than Germany, where photo-voltaic solar power now exceeds 40 gigawatts.

Ukraine also has good grid infrastructure, including high-voltage transmission lines between Chernobyl and Kiev, says Dolf Gielen, director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Center in Bonn, Germany…… http://www.nature.com/news/solar-on-the-steppe-ukraine-embraces-renewables-revolution-1.20690

September 29, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

European financiers very worried about Ukraine’s dire nuclear industry problems

piggy-bank--nuke-sadflag-UkraineHomeNews MediaBlogUkraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test http://bankwatch.org/news-media/blog/ukraines-nuclear-energy-fixation-puts-its-european-financiers-test

Ukraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test In a meeting today, the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee will again discuss Ukraine’s compliance with the Convention’s rules. A look back at the last months does not suggest a positive outcome.

 Much remains unknown about the basis for the European Commission’s decision to contribute to Ukraine’s nuclear safety upgrade program, but Bankwatch will not give up until this crucial information is made public.

Earlier this year Bankwatch approached the Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, and made a request for documents related to the EUR 300 million Euratom loan for the project. Specifically, we asked for the evidence used by the Commission in making the first EUR 100 million disbursement from the loan.

According to our information, Ukraine has not met the loan conditions and has in fact been violating international environmental treaties – namely, the Espoo Convention and the Aarhus Convention
But the response to our request (pdf) was insufficient, so we decided to take the case to the European Court of Justice. In our submission (pdf) we explain why we believe both conventions, as well as relevant EU legislation, apply to the Euratom Treaty and why transparency and improved nuclear safety are not mutually exclusive, as has been argued by the Commission.

A decision in this case can take some time, but old nuclear power plants could soon see their lifetimes extended, not only in Ukraine but across the EU. Yet, as we argued in a recent letter to the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee, any decision on prolonging the operations of nuclear power units beyond their design lifespan should be subject to a transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA) and transboundary public consultations.

The Committee is the only body with the power to rule on violations of the Espoo Convention. It is currently preparing a report for the June 2017 Meeting of the Parties on Ukraine’s adherence to the convention and will meet today, Monday, September 5, in Geneva to discuss the Ukrainian government’s progress (or lack thereof) with implementing the Committee’s requests.

And there is reason to worry. In April 2013 the Committee ruled that Ukraine’s decision to extend the lifetime of its two oldest nuclear units in the Rivne power plant was in breach of the convention and, as argued in our letter, this decision should be considered a precedent applicable to similar cases for the sake of legal certainty and equal treatment.

Unmet loan conditions

International treaties on their own are not the only reason Ukraine is expected to carry out transboundary EIAs before rewriting the expiry dates of its Soviet-era nuclear reactors. Each of the two EUR 300 million loans Ukraine’s nuclear safety upgrade program has received, from Euratom and from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is explicitly conditioned on full compliance with international environmental law, include the Espoo Convention that obliges the engagement with neighbouring countries in decisions on matters related to nuclear energy, such as nuclear units’ lifetime extensions. The European Commission has reiterated this obligation on several occasions.

Nevertheless, so far neither the Espoo Convention ruling in the Rivne case, nor the conditions to the European loans, have stopped Kiev from going ahead with lifetime extensions for two more nuclear units in the South Ukraine station without applying international requirements.

One other nuclear unit, in the Zaporizhia power plant, could see its lifetime extended as early as next week, and the state nuclear regulator contends these decisions fall outside the jurisdiction of the Espoo Convention.

In fact, Ukraine does not even have proper legislation on EIAs at national level. This has allowed Energoatom to release an “EIA report” for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant which ruled out any significant transboundary impacts from the plant’s operations.

Yet, Energoatom’s claims look even more invalid with the latest Espoo Implementation Committee’s ruling on the planned nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C in the UK, stating that a worst-case scenario should be taken into account when considering transboundary impacts.

Moreover, a recent incident in the 29 years old Khmelnitski nuclear power plant is but the latest reminder for the risks in Ukraine. Following a leak of radioactive water, the power station’s unit 1 was shut down for two months. This unit will reach the end of its projected lifetime next year.

According to the state nuclear regulator, the reason for the leak might have been a micro-crack in a tube in the heat exchanger. An expert report released in March 2015 by Bankwatch’s Ukrainian member group NECU has warned of the possible appearance of micro-cracks in the reactor vessel of unit 1 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant which has been granted a lifetime extension earlier.

The dire financial troubles facing Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom raise additional questions about the government’s blind reliance on this source of energy, and should be another warning sign for Ukraine’s European allies in Brussels and across its borders.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine and USA to build nuclear weapons in Ukraine?

flag-UkraineFlag-USAUS-Ukraine Coproduction of Weapons to Boost Risk of Nuclear Warhttp://sputniknews.com/politics/20160830/1044759268/us-ukraine-weapons-production.htmlUS and Ukraine joint production of weapons would seriously boost the risk of nuclear war between the United States and Russia, global peace campaigner Helen Caldicott told Sputnik. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly proposed that Kiev and Washington should cooperate in producing weapons on Ukraine soil.

“The sheer act of placing US-Ukrainian production of lethal weapons on Ukrainian soil will lead to increasing animosity and tension between the two nuclear superpowers,” Caldicott, founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, warned. However, Caldicott said she was concerned that the proposal, while politely acknowledged, had not received widespread thorough and skeptical examination in the mainstream US media and from Obama administration policymakers.
“It is almost as if Washington wants to provoke a nuclear war with Russia without any emotional and rational comprehension of what these actions could accrue.” Caldicott said that unless US policymakers started to take a far more rigorous and responsible attitude towards rash suggestions that were proposed to them, the dangers of a future miscalculation leading to full scale war between the thermonuclear powers would grow alarmingly. “I fear very much for the future and that of our children globally.” Caldicott is the author of many other books, including “The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex” and “War in Heaven: The Arms Race in Outer Space.”

August 31, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s nuclear powered electricity system near to collapse

When and Why Will Ukrainian Power Grid Collapse – UA Nuclear Reform Group Fort Russ, August 29th, 2016 Translated by Tatzhit  Mihail Umanets, co-director of the reform committee for the atomic-industrial complex of Ukraine, and the former director of Chernobyl nuclear power plant:

“The state of nuclear energy today is that we are facing disaster. I declare that we are facing economic catastrophe. Judge for yourself: out of 15 nuclear reactors, which today generate 55.7% of the total electricity in Ukraine, 7 reach the end of their service life within four years. Thus, it is necessary to recondition them.
Extending the service life of a single reactor, according to our group’s preliminary calculations, would cost 300,000,000. US dollars. Multiply that by seven, we get 2.1 billion dollars that we need in the next four years. I think everybody here understands what 2.1 billion means for our esteemed government. If they manage to beg someone for extra 200 million, it is already a huge, televised victory for them. So there’s nowhere to get the required funds.
And if you do not extend the service life, then by 2020 we will lose 50% of our nuclear energy, and by 2030 we will no longer have any nuclear power plants.
Where can we get money? By the way, even if we extend the service life, but do not work on replacing the older reactors, we are again on the clock for the collapse of our energy production. I stress: this is about all energy generation. … The reason I say this is that we have no nuclear and electric power reserves, because there are none left. 80% of our energy infrastructure is worn, worn to the bone. ……..http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/08/when-and-why-will-ukrainian-power-grid.html

August 31, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Ukraine | Leave a comment