The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Westinghouse puts on hold plans to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine

US Westinghouse gives no confirmation of decision to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine, 
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Nasalik earlier announced that Westinghouse and Kiev had reached a deal on building a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine.

KIEV, August 16. /TASS/. The US-based Westinghouse has not confirmed a decision to finance the construction of a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine as was previously announced by Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Igor Nasalik.

As Westinghouse Vice-President and Managing Director for Northern and Eastern Europe Aziz Dag told Deutsche Welle publication, surplus capacities for nuclear fuel production can be observed in the world at present and, therefore, the construction of a new factory won’t bring any considerable economic benefits for the country…..

August 24, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The mindless media bashing of Donald Trump is a dangerous mistake

The Danger of Excessive Trump Bashing , Consortium News 04 August 16
highly-recommendedThe prospect of Donald Trump in the White House alarms many people but bashing him over his contrarian views on NATO and U.S.-Russian relations could set the stage for disasters under President Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry. 
 Widespread disdain for Donald Trump and the fear of what his presidency might mean have led to an abandonment of any sense of objectivity by many Trump opponents and, most notably, the mainstream U.S. news media. If Trump is for something, it must be bad and must be transformed into one more club to use for hobbling his candidacy.

While that attitude may be understandable given Trump’s frequently feckless and often offensive behavior – he seems not to know basic facts and insults large swaths of the world’s population – this Trump bashing also has dangerous implications because some of his ideas deserve serious debate rather than blanket dismissal.

Amid his incoherence and insults, Trump has raised valid points on several important questions, such as the risks involved in the voracious expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the wisdom of demonizing Russia and its internally popular President Vladimir Putin.

Over the past several years, Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment has pushed a stunning policy of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia in pursuit of a “regime change” in Moscow. This existentially risky strategy has taken shape with minimal substantive debate behind a “group think” driven by anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda. (All we hear is what’s wrong with Putin and Russia: He doesn’t wear a shirt! He’s the new Hitler! Putin and Trump have a bro-mance! Russian aggression! Their athletes cheat!)

Much as happened in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War in 2002-2003, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies bully from the public square anyone who doesn’t share these views. Any effort to put Russia’s behavior in context makes you a “Putin apologist,” just like questioning the Iraq-WMD certainty of last decade made you a “Saddam apologist.”

But this new mindlessness – now justified in part to block Trump’s path to the White House – could very well set the stage for a catastrophic escalation of big-power tensions under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Clinton has already surrounded herself with neocons and liberal hawks who favor expanding the war against Syria’s government, want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and favor shipping arms to the right-wing and virulently anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, which came to power in a 2014 coup supported by U.S. policymakers and money.

By lumping Trump’s few reasonable points together with his nonsensical comments – and making anti-Russian propaganda the only basis for any public debate – Democrats and the anti-Trump press are pushing the United States toward a conflict with Russia.

And, for a U.S. press corps that prides itself on its “objectivity,” this blatantly biased approach toward a nominee of a major political party is remarkably unprofessional. But the principle of objectivity has been long since abandoned as the mainstream U.S. media transformed itself into little more than an outlet for U.S. government foreign-policy narratives, no matter how dishonest or implausible.

Losing History

To conform with the neocon-driven narratives, much recent history has been lost. For instance, few Americans realize that some of President Barack Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievements resulted from cooperation with Putin and Russia, arguably more so than any other “friendly” leader or “allied” nation.

For instance, in summer 2013, Obama was under intense neocon/liberal-hawk pressure to bomb the Syrian military supposedly for crossing his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2103.

Yet, hearing doubts from the U.S. intelligence community about the Assad regime’s guilt, Obama balked at a military strike that – we now know – would have played into the hands of Syrian jihadists who some intelligence analysts believe were the ones behind the false-flag sarin attack to trick the United States into directly intervening in the civil war on their side.

But Obama still needed a path out of the corner that he had painted himself into and it was provided by Putin and Russia pressuring Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, a clear victory for Obama regardless of who was behind the sarin attack.

Putin and Russia helped Obama again in convincing Iran to accept tight restraints on its nuclear program, an agreement that may mark Obama’s most significant foreign policy success. Those negotiations came to life in 2013 (not coincidentally after Secretary of State Clinton, who allied herself more with the bomb-bomb-bomb Iran faction led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had resigned and was replaced by John Kerry).

As the negotiating process evolved, Russia played a key role in bringing Iran along, offering ways for Iran to rid itself of its processed nuclear stockpiles and get the medical research materials it needed. Without the assistance of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the landmark Iranian nuclear deal might never have happened.

Obama recognized the value of this Russian help but he also understood the political price that he would pay if he were closely associated with Putin, who was already undergoing a thorough demonization in the U.S. and European mainstream media. So, Obama mostly worked with Putin under the table while joining in the ostracism of Putin above the table.

Checking Obama

But Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment – and its allied mainstream media – check-mated Obama’s double-talking game in 2013 by aggressively supporting a regime-change strategy in Ukraine where pro-Russian elected President Viktor Yanukovych was under mounting pressure from western Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to Europe and who hated Russia.

Leading neocon thinkers unveiled their new Ukraine strategy shortly after Putin helped scuttle their dreams for a major bombing campaign against Assad’s regime in Syria. Since the 1990s, the neocons had targeted the Assad dynasty – along with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and the Shiite-controlled government in Iran – for “regime change.” The neocons got their way in Iraq in 2003 but their program stalled because of the disastrous Iraq War.

However, in 2013, the neocons saw their path forward open again in Syria, especially after the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians and was blamed on Assad in a media-driven rush to judgment. Obama’s hesitancy to strike and then Putin’s assistance in giving Obama a way out left the neocons furious. They began to recognize the need to remove Putin if they were to proceed with their Mideast “regime change” dreams.

In late September 2013 – a month after Obama ditched the plans to bomb Syria – neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman wrote in The Washington Post that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize” but also was a steppingstone toward the even bigger “regime change” prize in Moscow. Gershman, whose NED is funded by Congress, wrote:

“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

By late 2013 and early 2014, with Gershman’s NED financing Ukraine’s anti-government activists and journalists and with the open encouragement of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, the prospects for “regime change” in Ukraine were brightening. With neo-Nazi and other Ukrainian ultra-nationalists firebombing police, the political crisis in Kiev deepened.

Meanwhile, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games could be disrupted by terrorism. So, with the Kremlin distracted, Ukraine’s Yanukovych tried to fend off his political crisis while limiting the violence.

However, on Feb. 20, 2014, snipers fired on both police and protesters in the Maidan square and the Western media jumped to the conclusion that Yanukovych was responsible (even though later investigations have indicated that the sniper attack was more likely carried out by neo-Nazi groups to provoke the chaos that followed).

A Successful Coup

On Feb. 21, a shaken Yanukovych agreed to a European-brokered deal in which he surrendered some of his powers and agreed to early elections. He also succumbed to Western pressure that he pull back his police. However, on Feb. 22, the neo-Nazis and other militants seized on that opening to take over government buildings and force Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.

The U.S. State Department and its Western allies quickly recognized the coup regime as the “legitimate” government of Ukraine. But the coup provoked resistance from the ethnic Russian populations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, political uprisings that the new Kiev regime denounced as “terrorist” and countered with an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO.

When Russian troops – already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval basing agreement – protected the people on the peninsula from attacks by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, the intervention was denounced in the West as a “Russian invasion.” Crimean authorities also organized a referendum in which more than 80 percent of the voters participated and favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia by a 96 percent margin. When Moscow agreed, that became “Russian aggression.”

Although the Kremlin refused appeals from eastern Ukraine for a similar arrangement, Russia provided some assistance to the rebels resisting the new authorities in Ukraine. Those rebels then declared their own autonomous republics.

Although this historical reality – if understood by the American people – would put the Ukrainian crisis in a very different context, it has been effectively blacked out of what the American public is allowed to hear. All the mainstream media talks about is “Russian aggression” and how Putin provoked the Ukraine crisis as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer Europe.

Trump, in his bumbling way, tries to reference the real history to explain his contrarian views regarding Russia, Ukraine and NATO, but he is confronted by a solid wall of “group think” asserting only one acceptable way to see this complex crisis. Rather than allow a serious debate on these very serious issues, the mainstream U.S. media simply laughs at Trump’s supposed ignorance.

The grave danger from this media behavior is that it will empower the neocons and liberal hawks already nesting inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to prepare for a new series of geopolitical provocations once Clinton takes office. By opportunistically buying into this neocon pro-war narrative now, Democrats may find themselves with buyer’s remorse as they become the war party of 2017.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

August 6, 2016 Posted by | media, politics international, Ukraine, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Westinghouse to try to take over Nuclear Fuel Production In Ukraine

Toshiba Westinghouse

Westinghouse To Build Nuclear Fuel Production Unit In Ukraine, Oil PriceBy Zainab Calcuttawala – Aug 04, 2016 The American firm Westinghouse will be building a nuclear fuel production unit in Ukraine in order to help the country reduce its reliance on Russia, according to officials who announced the project on Thursday.Ukraine, which was formerly a Soviet Republic, has been trying to sever ties with Russia since the February 2014 revolution that tore the country apart. The Kremlin-backed president is now in self-imposed exile in Russia, while pro-European Union forces rule the country…….

Nasalyk visited the United States two months ago in an effort to find new sources of fuel and new forms of energy. Towards the end of his visit, he told reporters that Westinghouse would build a nuclear production factory in Ukraine in the future.

Russia has argued in the past that American fuel would be unsafe for nuclear plants built by Soviet scientists who operated under their own guidelines and standards.

“We have agreed to diversify our sources of fuel delivery to nearly half of our nuclear blocks,” Nasalyk said. “And we agreed (for Westinghouse Electric Sweden) to construct a nuclear fuel production facility on the territory of Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s relationship with Russia has been falling apart further in recent days……

August 5, 2016 Posted by | marketing, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland may host world’s largest solar power plant

flag-UkraineWorld’s largest solar power plant planned for Chernobyl nuclear wasteland, Electrek, 30 July 16 John Fitzgerald Weaver  @SolarInMASS 

The world’s most famous and damaging nuclear meltdown is now being considered for the world’s largest solar power plant. The Ukrainian nuclear power station Chernobyl had a nuclear meltdown on April 26, 1986. Since then 1,600 square miles of land has been deemed an ‘exclusion zone’ as the radiation levels are too high for human health. But in a recent interview, Ukraine’s ecology minister said the government was negotiating with two US investment firms and four Canadian energy companies, which have expressed interest in the Chernobyl’s solar potential……
solar _photovoltaic_cells-wide
According to PVTech, the Ukrainian government is pushing for a 6 month construction cycle. Deploying this amount of solar power within such a time frame would involve significant resources being deployed. The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world’s largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) – but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl’s 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place…….
The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development has stated they would be interested in participating in the project, “so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank’s satisfaction.” A 2GW solar project – based upon a global market price of $1-1.5/W – would cost between $2 and $3 billion dollars. ……

July 30, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Kiev’s new nuclear project puts Europe at risk

wastes-1flag-Ukraine‘Threat of 2nd Chernobyl’: Kiev’s new nuclear project puts Europe at risk, Greens warn  5 Jul, 2016  The construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Ukraine poses “significant safety risks for the whole of Europe” because of numerous rule and standards violations, Ukrainian environmentalists warn.

The Ukrainian Greens Association, a non-profit environmentalist organization, listed the risks in a statement released on Monday.

“We are deeply concerned about plans to build a spent nuclear fuel storage in the upper reaches of the Dnepr River close to densely populated places,” the statement said, citing a speech made by the association’s spokeswoman, Anna Rak, at the first Nuclear Energy Policy Forum in Brussels on June 30.

Rak also emphasized that the government plans “to secretly fast-track the construction of a surface dry, spent nuclear fuel storage system… close to the Dnepr river,” ignoring basic safety standards and “creating the threat of a second Chernobyl.”

Ukraine’s Greens stressed that the decision to build the facility just 70 kilometers away from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone, was taken “without a proper environmental impact assessment and public consultation with the [local] residents.”

They also warned that the contractor for the project, Holtec International, actually lacks sufficient experience while the technology it plans to use in construction has never been tested or tried in any other country.

The association added that the procedure of choosing the contractor was “neither transparent nor open,” warning that Ukraine may once again become a subject to “unpredictable and dangerous nuclear experiments,” apparently referring to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The organization demanded that Ukrainian authorities “ensure that the project complies with all international rules and standards before the construction is launched” and emphasized that the residents of the Kiev region have “an unconditional right” to get all relevant information about the project and to take part in the discussion concerning its construction.

The Ukrainian Greens Association also urged the European Commission, the European Parliament and international environmental bodies to carry out an “independent environmental assessment of the project.”……..

July 6, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s very dangerous nuclear waste storage situation

radioactive trashflag-UkraineNuclear waste stored in ‘shocking’ way 120 miles from Ukrainian front line, Guardian, , 13 May 2015,  Experts raise concerns over waste stored in the open air at Europe’s largest nuclear power station, as the conflict increases Ukraine’s reliance on power from its ageing plants  C

oncerns have been raised by environmentalists and atomic power experts over the way waste is being stored at Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in crisis-ridden Ukraine.

More than 3,000 spent nuclear fuel rods are kept inside metal casks within towering concrete containers in an open-air yard close to a perimeter fence at Zaporizhia, the Guardian discovered on a recent visit to the plant, which is 124 miles (200km) from the current front line.

“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,” said Patricia Lorenz, a Friends of the Earth nuclear spokeswoman who visited the plant on a fact-finding mission.

“I have never seen anything like it,” she added. “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.”

Industry experts said that ideally the waste store would have a secondary containment system such as a roof…….

Plant security at Zaporizhia is now at a ‘high readiness’ level, while air force protection and training exercises have been stepped up. Officials say that if fighting reaches the plant, there are plans for the closure of access roads and deployment of soldiers.

But they say that no containment design could take the stresses of military conflict into account. “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,” Sergiy Bozhko, the chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) told the Guardian……

Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow and European nuclear specialist at Chatham House agreed that a secondary containment system would offer greater protection from internal or external explosions.

“It is obvious that if you do not have an array of dry cast [interim] stores with secondary containment around it, then that will have a greater risk of release of radioactive material,” he said…..

Sources at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) told the Guardian that any funding request from Ukraine for such a structure would be seriously considered. The bank has already made €300m available for nuclear lifetime extension programmes in Ukraine, before the regulators have even signed off on them.

We know about the weak links in the plant [security]… But I doubt that that these should be disclosed

A pall was cast over security arrangements at Zaporizhia last May when the plant was the scene of an armed confrontation between security guards and paramilitaries from the ultra-nationalist ‘right sector’, which is allied with neo-Nazi groups. The gunmen reportedly wanted to ‘protect’ the plant from pro-Russian forces, but were stopped by guards at a checkpoint…….

Westinghouse has lobbied the Ukrainian government at ministerial level to commit to buying their fuel for at least five reactors. Plant managers say that it will be used in Zaporizhia by 2017.

But local people in the reactor’s shadow say they fear the consequences of a patched up Soviet-era plant cranking up to generate electricity into the 2020s.

“History teaches us that history doesn’t teach us anything,” Ivanovic said. “Another catastrophe could happen again.”

June 17, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

The media ignored the fiasco of AREVA’s nuclear waste storage facility at Chernobyl

Chernobyl storage spent fuelAreva’s Incredible Fiasco in Chernobyl

Le 17 février 2016 par Martin Leers  INVESTIGATION. The EPR reactor is not Areva’s first failure in the field of nuclear engineering. The French nuclear company was involved in another disgraceful fiasco in Chernobyl, which the press has not wasted any time exposing.

In the heart of the exclusion zone, just 2.5 kilometers from the ruins of Chernobyl’s reactor no. 4, lies a strange pile of concrete boxes, and two horizontal beams with multiple oval holes drilled into them extending for hundreds of meters. This unusual assemblage is called ISF2, which stands for “Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility 2”. It is a nuclear waste storage facility, which Ukraine commissioned Areva to build. The French nuclear group made a major design error in the facility, which has rendered it inoperable. This facility, considered by the international community to be as vital to the nuclear safety of Chernobyl as the giant arch over the damaged reactor, is still not functioning to this day, largely because of Areva’s initial errors.

After the explosion of Chernobyl’s reactor no. 4, 29 years ago, the nuclear power plant, which housed three additional units, continued to operate for more than 14 years.[1] The dismantling of these three reactors and the management of their nuclear waste is the other major project for Chernobyl’s nuclear safety, concurrent with the giant arch meant to cover the “sarcophagus” of the ruined reactor.

Areva pledged to produce a « turnkey » installation where spent nuclear fuel from Chernobyl’s reactors no. 1, 2 and 3 would be stored for at least 100 years

 In 1999, Areva’s branch devoted to nuclear reactors and engineering (Areva NP then Framatome) signed a contract with the Ukrainian government corporation Energoatom to build ISF2, a center for dry cask storage where the spent nuclear fuel from Chernobyl’s reactors no. 1, 2 and 3 would be stored for at least 100 years. This marked a first for storing fuel from Soviet-designed RBMK nuclear reactors.[2] Areva pledged to produce a « turnkey facility » by the Summer of 2005 and began construction in the Spring of 2000. This storage facility was financed mainly by 16 donor countries from a fund reserved for “urgent nuclear safety improvements” managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which also contributed to it. The European Union (EU) and nine EU member countries have been major contributors to this fund, which is separate from the fund earmarked for financing works on the containment of reactor no. 4. Continue reading

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Reference, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Ukraine sseking to renew deliveries of nuclear fuel from Russia

Ukraine’s Energoatom seeks to restart Russian nuclear fuel deliveries, Tass, June 07,
Energoatom is looking for alternative options of Russian nuclear fuel deliveries to Ukraine’s NPPs after the company’s financial accounts have been blocked KIEV, June 7. /TASS/. Energoatom, the operator of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, is looking for alternative options of Russian nuclear fuel deliveries to Ukraine’s NPPs after the company’s financial accounts have been blocked, Energoatom President Yuri Nedashkovsky said in reply to a TASS question on Tuesday.

“Our lawyers are working on possible alternative schemes of fuel deliveries,” he said in comments on the question about whether the company was considering the option of advance deliveries of Russian nuclear fuel with delayed payments for these supplies. The company head didn’t provide any further details, referring to the confidentiality of the information.

No breach of Russia contract with larger Westinghouse fuel load

The larger use of fuel from US Westinghouse Company at Ukrainian nuclear power plants does not breach Ukraine’s contractual obligations with Russia on fuel delivery by Russia’s TVEL Enterprise, President of Ukraine’s NPP operator Energoatom Yuri Nedashkovsky said on Tuesday.

According to the Energoatom president, the contractual obligation to load NPS with nuclear fuel of Russian assembly is relevant only if a nuclear fuel-producing facility is built in Ukraine jointly with Russia’s TVEL.

“The contract with Russia stipulates such a condition [on certain volumes of loading NPPs with Russian fuel assemblies] but only if a nuclear fuel factory is built,” the Energoatom head said.

A nuclear fuel plant that was planned for construction in partnership with Russia in the Kirovograd Region would have been the third source of fuel assembly fabrication for Ukrainian NPPs, Nedashkovsky said.

TVEL Fuel Company Vice-President Oleg Grigoryev earlier said Russia had not received any official notice from Ukraine on loading Westinghouse fuel into the reactors of the South Ukraine NPP. According to him, in case of receiving the notice, “measures of juridical nature will be taken as the load of the US nuclear fuel into Ukrainian reactors is a breach of the contract.”

Energoatom and Westinghouse have been cooperating since 2000 under the project of introducing US fuel at Ukrainian NPPs.

In April 2012, damages of US fuel cassettes were found at the third power unit of the South Ukraine NPP. A special inter-departmental commission found that the damage had been caused by design defects. In 2014, the Ukrainian leadership readdressed the issue of diversifying nuclear fuel deliveries and the contract with Westinghouse was extended to 2020.

Currently, Westinghouse fuel assemblies are loaded into the third power unit of the South Ukraine NPP. As Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspection earlier told TASS, the department “has no principled claims to the operation of Westinghouse fuel at this power unit.”

Ukraine’s Energoatom seeks options for restart of Russian nuclear fuel deliveries…….

June 8, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Russia halts nuclear waste disposal from Ukraine

flag_Russiaflag-Ukraine 30 May, 2016  Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom has stopped removing spent nuclear fuel from Ukraine because bills have been unpaid, said nuclear decommissioning executive Oleg Kryukov. There are problems related to Ukraine’s payments,” he said, adding that the first shipment of nuclear waste for disposal has been postponed.

Kryukov affirmed the agency plans to continue disposing of nuclear waste already in Russia for processing.

“We have a contract with Ukraine on storing spent nuclear fuel and its recycling. We are going to continue with the contract, although the Ukrainian side plans to build its own warehouse for spent fuel without recycling,” he said on the sidelines of the Atomexpo-2016 forum.

Under the agreement signed between two countries in 1993, Russia supplies reactor fuel to Ukraine and takes spent fuel rods for storage and reprocessing.

A year ago, Ukraine said it planned to invest $25 million in a centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Kiev is currently trying to attract Western investors to kick-start the project.

June 1, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Lithuania, and environmentalists not happy with Belarus’ nuclear power plan

flag-UkraineMinsk Letter: Belarus goes ahead with nuclear power, Irish Times,  Kieran Cooke in Minsk, 24 May 16, 

“…….Though Chernobyl is in Ukraine, it’s estimated that the prevailing winds resulted in up to 70 per cent of the radioactivity being deposited on Belarus, much of it in the southern region of the country, close to the Ukrainian border.

Undeterred by the legacy of Chernobyl – many here still suffer from cancers and other diseases as a result of what ranks as the world’s worst nuclear accident – Belarus is now building its own nuclear power plant……

The government – for more than 20 years under the firm grip of president Alexander Lukashenko – claims that more than 60 per cent of the country’s 9.5 million approve of the nuclear facility, though no nationwide poll has ever been taken…..

Government critics say no proper public hearings have been held about the plant, and that those who dare to raise objections have been harassed or arrested……..

Russian reliant

Critics point out that Belarus will still be reliant on Russia. A Russian state nuclear company has designed and is responsible for much of the construction. Russia will also supply the plant’s nuclear fuel – and deal with the waste.

Neighbouring Lithuania, always suspicious of a government in Minsk it sees as a remnant of the old Soviet order, is deeply concerned about what’s going on. It points out that the plant at Ostrovets is only 20km from the Lithuanian border and only 50km from Vilnius, the capital.

Officials in Vilnius say Belarus has not answered questions about the safety of Ostrovets and is in contravention of international agreements on nuclear facilities. The government in Minsk firmly denies the accusations.

Svetlana Alexievich, the Belarus author and winner of the 2015 Nobel prize for literature for her work on interviewing Chernobyl victims and other writings, has described the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl as an unimaginable disaster for her country.

Back at the new nuclear plant, due to become operational in two years, we are being bombarded with data. So many thousands of tons of concrete, so many tons of steel are being used in its construction.

“What happens if a missile is fired at the plant?” asks one journalist.

“Then we are all in trouble,” comes the reply.

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Belarus, politics, Ukraine | Leave a comment

America gets Ukraine to hop on its nuclear power marketing bandwagon

Russia-USA marketingHow Washington Is Fighting For Russia’s Old Europe Energy Market, Forbes, Kenneth Rapoza , 17 May 16

“……..Nuking Ukraine

Getting Ukraine to hop on the Westinghouse band wagon was particularly crafty. Either it was simply fantastic timing on the part of Westinghouse, or the U.S. government and the new, post-Euromaidan government of Ukraine colluded to kick Russia to the curb.

“I think that Westinghouse was somehow involved in getting the EC to push Ukraine away from Russia on this front,” says Tomas Vlcek, an nergy security expert based out of Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.

In March 2014, just two months after the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted, a European environmentalist group called Bellona sent out stories saying that the Russian government was ready to punish Ukraine with an embargo on nuclear fuel supplies from TVEL.

When compared to what Gazprom has done with gas supplies, Putin ordering a stop on TVEL sales of nuclear fuel assemblies simply sounded like something he would propose. Only, it is not possible to ban nuclear fuel supply. Not only does the fuel rod stay in the reactor for years, someone else can make it for the reactor instead of the Russians. Like Westinghouse.

The Bellona coverage brandished Russia as a villain in the nuclear energy business too. Brussels called for “diversification” in Ukraine’s nuclear fuel market and gave Westinghouse’s European fuel division millions of euros in subsidies for the sake of “energy security”.

The whole shebang had nothing to do with Westinghouse in Pennsylvania. Their spokeswoman said she’s never heard of Bellona. Her colleagues in Europe, on the other hand-

Derek Taylor, the former E.U. civil servant who works at the Brussels branch of Bellona is also a Senior Advisor on energy at Burson-Marsteller which, in turn,is a public affairs firm working for Westinghouse worldwide.

Despite the civil war in East Ukraine, sanctions and Gazprom gas disputes, the Russians have never missed any scheduled nuclear fuel delivery to Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

Westinghouse is more than a brand name American power company. It’s a battering ram used by Washington to promote energy security.

In 2012, Ukraine’s nuclear regulator banned the use of Westinghouse fuel assemblies in the country pending an investigation. Two years later, according to sources in Ukraine, then-Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk consulted Westinghouse on picking a new nuclear safety regulator for his new government.

In 2015 during a scheduled outage at a reactor unit at the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, two of the Westinghouse-made fuel assemblies were found to be leaking contrary to Westinghouse’s claims that those were of an ‘improved’ modification to fit the Rosatom VVER-1000 type nuclear reactors there.

Regardless, anti-Russia politics trumps technological problems. Westinghouse is currently planning to deliver five reloads of fuel to the South Ukraine and Zaporizhia nuclear power plants, the company said on April 28, meaning the new regulator has concluded its study and their VVER-1000 fuel assemblies are as good as those made in Russia. Capturing that market, as Toshiba says it will in corporate presentations, serves as a means to punish the Russians. It’s a political convenience the Russian’s are not willing to ignore.

“Our ability to make VVER fuel is not in question,” says Westinghouse Roderick. “We will continue to sell to VVER-1000s. I think it’s good to have competition in that market.”

It is good. Political pressure, whether Russian or American, is probably more harm than good. And it’s going to really irk countries, like Russia, who clearly see it as Washington poking them in the eye on purpose.

Energy security is therefore as much fact as it is fiction. It is as much a means to market Russian rivals as it is to limit the serious role energy politics plays in Russian-European relations.

But derailing nuclear projects while running into technical difficulties with Westinghouse fuel assemblies in Rosatom reactors is a dangerous way to promote energy security there. Paradoxically as it might seem, it plays into Russia’s hands when those projects to work according to plan. The Russians look reliable and solid by comparison.

“On the finance side too, I think Rosatom has Westinghouse beat,” says Jirusek about the Russian company’s ability to finance the construction of a new power plant and long term fuel supply deals.

Apart from Ukraine, where diversification was imposed for political reasons, Rosatom’s TVEL still holds its market share. Japan’s Westinghouse, despite paying no corporate tax in the U.S., will continue applying the pressure with the help of Washington and the U.S. taxpayer.

For the Russia-United States nuclear stand off , once again it is a war of attrition.

On May 12, Toshiba said it is coming back from the brink. It will post an operating profit of $1.1 billion this year after losing $6.6 billion last year due to massive write downs associated with Westinghouse and restructuring costs in the wake of a damaging accounting scandal.

No one should bet that Washington will suddenly stop selling their Westinghouse nukes to the Europeans. They could promote another Japanese-American hybrid, like the General Electric/Hitachi boiled water reactors. Or Oregon-based NuScale, who make a smaller modular reactor that is less capital intensive and is designed to be integrated into a renewable energy grid.  But they do not, obviously. It’s not because those are inferior products or even that Europe is currently a pressurized water reactor market. They do it because Westinghouse competes directly with the Russians. That’s what Washington is really after.

May 21, 2016 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

Widespread and lingering medical effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster

highly-recommendedThe Medical Implications of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Thirty Years Ago, April 1986 By Helen Caldicott Global Research, April 25, 2016 The following text by renowned scientist
and physician Dr. Helen Caldicott on the impacts of the 1986 Chernobyl will be followed in a subsequent article by an analysis of the medical implications of the Fukushima disaster

Chernobyl_Disaster complexThe only on-site medical and epidemiological data gathered after Chernobyl was released in a report published by the New York Academy of Medicine in 2009 titled “Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment,” which was gleaned from over 5000 papers published largely in Russian and translated into English.

These studies were gathered mainly from populations residing in the heavily irradiated zones in the Ukraine, Belarus and European Russia. However the Russian government classified all the relevant medical data for 3 years.

The Chernobyl 1986 catastrophe has turned into a new medical experiment conducted on millions of innocent people, much like the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Because, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Security Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation and the World Health Organisation never collected data from real patients, instead to their discredit they estimated the number of potential diseases that they derived only from calculations of radioactive releases and extrapolated doses.

Hence it is vitally important to scientifically and epidemiologically document the many illnesses which arose after the accident so that the medical profession can learn from these shocking accidents. These papers presented in the Chernobyl report by the NY Academy of Sciences attempt to do so. Some people say that they are not adequately peer reviewed so they should be ignored, however they are the only on-the-ground documentations of the many illnesses afflicting  the irradiated populations

In essence 28 years after the accident, 50% of thirteen European countries are still contaminated by a variety of long-lived radioactive elements and the medical effects are severe in some areas. Before Chernobyl, 80% of the children in Belarus were healthy and now only 20% remain in good health.

Millions of people initially were exposed to very high radiation doses from short-lived radioactive elements so the initial radiation doses were thousands of times higher than doses received 3 years later.

Types of radioactive elements Continue reading

April 29, 2016 Posted by | health, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Wildlife continues to suffer seriously from radiation at Chernobyl and Fukushima

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife, The Conversation,   April 25, 2016 “…..Radioactive cesium from Chernobyl can still be detected in some food products today. And in parts of central, eastern and northern Europe many animals, plants and mushrooms still contain so much radioactivity that they are unsafe for human consumption…….

 in the past decade population biologists have made considerable progress in documenting how radioactivity affects plants, animals and microbes. My colleagues and I have analyzed these impacts at Chernobyl, Fukushima and naturally radioactive regions of the planet.

Our studies provide new fundamental insights about consequences of chronic, multigenerational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation. Most importantly, we have found that individual organisms are injured by radiation in a variety of ways. The cumulative effects of these injuries result in lower population sizes and reduced biodiversity in high-radiation areas.

Broad impacts at Chernobyl

Butterfly-grass-blue-mutateRadiation exposure has caused genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many organisms in the Chernobyl region. So far, we have found little convincing evidence that many organisms there are evolving to become more resistant to radiation.

Organisms’ evolutionary history may play a large role in determining how vulnerable they are to radiation. In our studies, species that have historically shown high mutation rates, such as the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica), the icterine warbler (Hippolais icterina) and the Eurasian blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), are among the most likely to show population declinesin Chernobyl. Our hypothesis is that species differ in their ability to repair DNA, and this affects both DNA substitution rates and susceptibility to radiation from Chernobyl.

Much like human survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, birds and mammals at Chernobyl have cataracts in their eyes andsmaller brains. These are direct consequences of exposure to ionizing radiation in air, water and food. Like some cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, many of the birds have malformed sperm. In the most radioactive areas, up to 40 percent of male birds are completely sterile, with no sperm or just a few dead sperm in their reproductive tracts during the breeding season.

Tumors, presumably cancerous, are obvious on some birds in high-radiation areas. So are developmental abnormalities in some plants and insects.

Given overwhelming evidence of genetic damage and injury to individuals, it is not surprising that populations of many organisms in highly contaminated areas have shrunk. In Chernobyl, all major groups of animals that we surveyed were less abundant in more radioactive areas. This includes birdsbutterflies, dragonflies, bees, grasshoppers, spiders and large and small mammals.

Not every species shows the same pattern of decline. Many species, including wolves, show no effects of radiation on their population density. A few species of birds appear to be more abundant in more radioactive areas. In both cases, higher numbers may reflect the fact that there are fewer competitors or predators for these species in highly radioactive areas.

Moreover, vast areas of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are not presently heavily contaminated, and appear to provide a refuge for many species. One report published in 2015 described game animals such as wild boar and elk as thriving in the Chernobyl ecosystem. But nearly all documented consequences of radiation in Chernobyl and Fukushima have found that individual organisms exposed to radiation suffer serious harm.

There may be exceptions. For example, substances called antioxidants can defend against the damage to DNA, proteins and lipids caused by ionizing radiation. The levels of antioxidants that individuals have available in their bodies may play an important role in reducing the damage caused by radiation. There is evidence that some birds may have adapted to radiation by changing the way they use antioxidants in their bodies.

Parallels at Fukushima

Recently we have tested the validity of our Chernobyl studies by repeating them in Fukushima, Japan. The 2011 power loss and core meltdown at three nuclear reactors there released about one-tenth as much radioactive material as the Chernobyl disaster.

Overall, we have found similar patterns of declines in abundance and diversity of birds, although some species are more sensitive to radiation than others. We have also found declines in some insects, such as butterflies, which may reflect the accumulation of harmful mutationsover multiple generations.

Our most recent studies at Fukushima have benefited from more sophisticated analyses of radiation doses received by animals. In our most recent paper, we teamed up with radioecologists to reconstruct the doses received by about 7,000 birds. The parallels we have found between Chernobyl and Fukushima provide strong evidence that radiation is the underlying cause of the effects we have observed in both locations.

Some members of the radiation regulatory community have been slow to acknowledge how nuclear accidents have harmed wildlife. For example, the U.N.-sponsored Chernobyl Forum instigated the notion that the accident has had a positive impact on living organisms in the exclusion zone because of the lack of human activities. A more recent report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation predicts minimal consequences for the biota animal and plant life of the Fukushima region.

Unfortunately these official assessments were largely based on predictions from theoretical models, not on direct empirical observations of the plants and animals living in these regions. Based on our research, and that of others, it is now known that animals living under the full range of stresses in nature are far more sensitive to the effects of radiation than previously believed. Although field studies sometimes lack the controlled settings needed for precise scientific experimentation, they make up for this with a more realistic description of natural processes.

Our emphasis on documenting radiation effects under “natural” conditions using wild organisms has provided many discoveries that will help us to prepare for the next nuclear accident or act of nuclear terrorism. This information is absolutely needed if we are to protect the environment not just for man, but also for the living organisms and ecosystem services that sustain all life on this planet……

April 28, 2016 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2016, Japan, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The real menace of the Chernobyl nuclear situation

exclamation-flag-Ukraine30 Years After the Chernobyl Disaster, a Nuclear Menace Still Hides in Plain Sight, THE WORLD POST, Ioana Moldovan Freelance Photojournalist and Documentary Videographer 04/25/2016 “……..The highlight of the tour is getting near Chernobyl plant’s reactor no. 4, some 200 meters from its remains. That’s as close as tourists can get. From the other side of the tall fence surrounding the complex, they can see the new “sarcophagus” shining in the sun. The old “sarcophagus,” or containment, was assembled back in 1986 and was intended to be temporary. The New Safe Containment is meant to cover reactor no. 4 and offer protection from still dangerous radiation for a century to come.

Aleksandr Kupny, one of the most outspoken critics of the slow-movingsarcophagus project, is not that confident that it will last this long.

“The sarcophagus is not hermetic, was not designed to be,” he said. “If, God forbid, something collapses in there, it will equal a 3 to 4 level tornado of dust. … There are already 35 tons of dust accumulated there and it is radioactive.”

………“There are two realities,” says Bozhenko Vadim Borisovich, medical director at the hospital for radiation diseases in Kiev. “The official one of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine saying there is no more danger related to the Chernobyl accident, and the one I get to witness every day in this hospital.”

The medical center was opened on Aug. 1, 1986, accepting all “Chernobyl status” persons. Ever since, it has treated over 60,000 children and 600,000 adults, according to Borisovich. About a year ago when I was there, 100 children were hospitalized due to reactions from radiation.

There aren’t completely accurate figures about the number of people affected by Chernobyl. The data that Borisovich has shows that, on Jan. 15, 2015, the number affected by the power plant disaster was 2,011,799. Out of those, 453,391 were children.

“There are lots of children living in polluted areas that ingest radiation through food and water,” Borisovich says. “Children and grandchildren of Chernobyl victims present inborn malformations. Every child living there is sick. They all suffer from four to five diseases because of low immunity.”………

When people need to worry about everyday life, about making a living in an eroded economy, thinking about the danger of nuclear reactors does not even come second.

“There are no safe nuclear reactors. There is no economic stability that allows safe operation,” says Vladimir Ivanovich, former Chernobyl liquidator and former lawmaker. “Recession means lower operational quality so reactors become dangerous. Most terribly, unstable situations often occur. Right now we have Russia’s aggression and for the first time we have a continuing armed conflict next to nuclear reactors.”

Zaporizhia nuclear plant sits only 200 kilometers away from the front line in the east.

“Putin must connect Crimea by land and this goes through Zaporizhia region, through Berdiansk, Melitopol and on to Crimea,” says Bilitsky, the environmental activist. “Energodar [the small town in which the plant is actually located] is only a stone’s throw away from Melitopol [another town in Zaporizhia region]… Shoot a powerful cannon and you’re there.”

But the war in Ukraine has seen much more than a cannon shot. It has seen heavy artillery fire and even Grad missiles. People are scared that Russian troops are close and have weaponry that can hit the power plant.

“This should never happen here,” says Sergei Shygyn, chief specialist for nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. “Both Ukraine and the international community should prevent military actions here.” He continues: “The media asked me if Zaporizhia NPP can withstand military action. It can’t. NPP’s were not designed for war.”

Having military action just around the corner, one of the main concerns is that spent fuel is kept in containers standing under the open sky, without any terror-proof cover……….

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

Covering shattered Chernobyl nuclear reactor – a financial problem for Ukraine

flag-UkraineNuclear comeback: Funding fears for hi-tech lid on Chernobyl, The Australian, NATHAN HODGE, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL APRIL 26, 2016″………

A workforce of about 2500 people is finishing a massive steel enclosure that will cover Chernobyl’s reactor 4, where the radioactive innards of the nuclear plant are encased in a concrete sarcophagus hastily built after the disaster. The zone is now aglow with the reflective safety vests of construction workers.

If all goes to plan, the new structure — an arch 260m wide, 165m long and 110m high — will be slid into place late next year over the damaged reactor and its nuclear fuel, creating a leak-tight barrier designed to contain radioactive substances for at least the next 100 years.

The project, known as the New Safe Confinement, is a feat of ­engineering. It will take two or three days to slide the 36,000- tonne structure into place. The arch, which looks something like a dirigible hangar, is large enough to cover a dozen football fields.


“You could put Wembley Stad­ium underneath here, with all the car parks,” said David Driscoll, the chief safety officer for the French consortium running the construction site.

    • …….
    • Nicolas Caille, project director for Novarka, the consortium of Vinci and Bouygues, the French contractors running the project, said about 1000 people worked on a typical shift at the construction site, keeping to a schedule of 15 days in and 15 out.

The €2.15 billion ($3.1bn) shelter installation plan has been funded by international donors and the European Bank for ­Reconstruction and Development, a non-profit lending institution. But the Chernobyl clean-up faces a shortfall: €100 million is needed to finish a storage facility for highly radioactive spent ­nuclear fuel from the other three reactors, all now offline

The EBRD’s spent fuel facility contract is with a US-based ­energy technology firm. When the dollar-denominated contract was signed, the euro was stronger against the greenback; with the two currencies approaching parity, the bank faces a shortfall.

“This has dug a huge euro hole,” said Vince Novak, director of the nuclear safety department for the EBRD. “Our income is in euros.”

Mr Novak said donors would meet by the end of this month to discuss financing to finish the project, which is financed separately from the Chernobyl shelter fund.

Spent fuel rods are stored in an ageing facility.

Completion of the project, Mr Novak said, “has ­always been somehow in the shadow of the New Safe Confinement because it is not as attractive, not as sexy. But it is equally important in terms of nuclear safety.

Even if donors plug the gap, Chernobyl will continue to pose a financial challenge for Ukraine.

More than 40 countries and the EBRD have contributed to the Chernobyl containment work, and international donors say it will be years before the Kiev government can take on the larger share of the burden.

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,218 other followers