The conclusions of the public hearings on the problems of nuclear safety and atomic energy production


On 16 November 1998 the ecological NGO "Zeleny svit" organized in the town of Chortkiv of the Ternopil oblast the public hearings on the problems of nuclear safety and atomic energy production. The hearings were conducted on the basis of resolution No. 364 of 22 October 1998 issued by town mayor V. Pavlishin and according to Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1122 of 18 June 1998. The participants of the hearings were: representatives of the Ternopil oblast directorates of ecological safety, emergency situations and the Chernobyl problems, heads of the Chortkiv district and town councils, heads of the interested organizations, teachers and students of Chortkiv educational establishments, scientists, journalists, representatives of religious communities, etc. Unfortunately, specialists from the National company of atomic energy (NCAE) "Energoatom" ignored the invitation of the organization committee. Six topical reports were delivered at the hearings, nine people out of 87 present took part in the discussion. At hearings the appeal was approved concerning the construction of the Tashlitska GAES.

As a result of the analysis of the information, discussion and open voting the participants of the hearings approved the following conclusions.

1. On the inadmissibility of terminating programs of liquidating the consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe and the top priority of the concrete measures for protecting health of the catastrophe victims, first of all children.

2. On the necessity of developing the technological project of closing the Chernobyl AES as an object, which does not satisfy the modern norms of nuclear safety, in the connection with the international obligations of Ukraine.

3. On the expediency of concentrating the financial resources of the state and the external credits, the necessity of the prior scientific and technical provision, legal and economic regulations of the following problems:

a) as fast as possible making the Chernobyl sarcophagus ecologically safe;

b) thorough improvement of the safety level of the operating AES;

c) development and realization of long-term local, regional and national programs of energy and resources economy;

d) immediate development of the technologies of using ecologically pure and alternative energy sources;

e) modernization of the existing non-nuclear sources, in particular the objects of "small-scale hydro energy production" in the West Ukraine.

4. On acknowledgement of the insufficiency and groundlessness of the results of the ecological expertise, economic and legal substantiation of the project of the construction of the energy blocks KhAES-2 and RAES-4, that is on inadvisability of using foreign credits, budget resources and special expenditures for realizing the mentioned project.

5. On the need to conduct the all-Ukrainian referendum on the prospects of the development of nuclear energy production in Ukraine.

The protest actions of the Ukrainian public against the KhAES-2/RAES-4 project still last. On 29 March 2002 the Public committee of national safety of Ukraine turned to the Pecherskiy district court of Kyiv with the claim against the NCAE "Energoatom" about "the right for safe environment". The claimants demanded to stop immediately the construction of the KhAES-2/RAES-4. They affirmed that the construction of these blocks is illegal, since, in contract to the demands of the operating laws, it is conducted without the approval of state ecological expertise, thus violating the right of the plaintiffs for safe environment. On 24 April the court rejected the complaint, since, they said, the claimants turned to court not for protecting their own rights, but "on behalf of the entire society" having no corresponding powers. Thus, the Pecherskiy district court deprived the citizens of their right to protect their interest in court. On 8 May the claimants turned to the Appeal court of Kyiv demanding to guarantee them the right to protect their interests in court and to cancel the decision of the Pecherskiy court about the refusal to accept the claim. Advocate T. Movtian told that the plaintiffs turned to the district court for protecting their own rights, and the "interests of the society" were not mentioned in the claim at all. Oleksiy Tolkachov, a Coordinator of the Public committee of national safety of Ukraine, explained the rejection of the claim by unwillingness of the Pecherskiy court to consider the case, which may disclose the illegality of constructing the additional blocks of the Khmelnitska and Rivne AES and draw the public attention to brutal abuse of human rights in the sphere of using atomic energy in Ukraine. The appeal court will consider case on 12 June 2002.

As one can see, even an incomplete list of public actions enables one to doubt the thesis about the absence of public resistance to the plans of the Ukrainian nuclear agencies. So we have: THE FIRST MYTH or, if to call a spade a spade, THE FIRST GREAT LIE THAT THE UKRAINIANS DO NOT PROTEST AGAINST THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATOMIC ENERGY PRODUCTION. The matter is that there are too many sides, for which it is profitable not to notice these protests.

One of the main demands of the EBRD to the project is the economic advantage of the project compared to other ones. In 1997 the EBRD appointed the independent group of experts for the assessment of the project KhAES-2/RAES-4. The experts drew the conclusion that "the KhAES-2/RAES-4 project was economically expedient" and that "the construction of the two additional reactors was not at that time the most efficient way to waste one billion USD". When this conclusion was drawn, the cost of this construction was estimated as 1.2 billion USD, now it would cost 1.72 billion USD. According to many estimates the most economical project is to invest the money into gas turbine heat energy stations. The expert group also learned that the energy consumption in Ukraine was decreasing, and that the best way to provide the current needs in energy is to improve the energy saving and the administration of final consumption. The development of events in Ukraine confirms the conclusions of the experts. In 1997 the energy consumption in the country decreased by 7%, in 1998 – by 3% more. Ukraine has noticeable redundant energy generating capacities, the total capacity in 1997 was 53.9 GW. Even without the Chernobyl AES we have two times mote capacities than we need.

The reactors KhAES-2/RAES-4 of the type BBEP-1000 were designed in the 70s. They do not satisfy the modern standards of safety and would never be allowed in any Western country. Moreover, "Energoatom" planned to start the exploitation of the reactors without conducting all the necessary safety measures envisaged by the project; they planned to liquidate a number of drawbacks during the first reload of fuel. So, even the planned (but not satisfactory) safety level will be reached only after three years of exploitation. The problems of safety are additionally complicated by the fact that the personnel of atomic stations periodically do not get their wages. Safety never was on the first place for Soviet designers. Almost all AESs were designed with essential errors in choosing sites for the stations. For example, the public ecological expertise headed by academician D. Grodzinski showed the high risk of geological instability in the RAES area because of the presence of tectonic breaks and high activity of karst processes. Besides, all Ukrainian atomic stations are situated in densely populated regions and near air routs, which makes especially tragic the consequences of possible accidents. The problem of safety of nuclear industry becomes very acute also in the connection with the activation of terrorism.

During the preparation and conduction of the public hearings, the consequent correspondence with various state agencies and organizations, processing the press publications, meetings with experts and information exchange among the participants of the Coalition, other very important facts were disclosed, namely:the deformed energy production policy is accompanied by the deformed elucidation of the energy industry problems;there is no crisis of energy generating capacities in Ukraine, but the "crisis of non-payments" exists, which may be liquidated by introducing order at the energy market;instead of the 85-90% readiness of the energy blocks KhAES-2/RAES-4 declared by "Energoatom", the Counting Chamber of Ukraine established only 44% at the KhAES-2 and 27% at the RAES-4;now the construction of the reactors is financed at the expense of so-called special extra charge for the electric energy, that is at the expense of all energy consumers, which is a brutal violation of their rights;the expenses given for the construction project are frequently used irrationally or for incorrect purposes;the project of the construction of the KhAES-2/RAES-4 until now has no approval of the state ecological expertise and the technical-economical substantiation; the General Prosecutor’s office, instead of the immediate termination of the illegal construction, repeats the promises of "Energoatom" about these documents;the Ministry of energy production stated that the so-called "international ecological expertise" carried out by the British firm "Moushel consulting" avoids the most disputable questions of the project, does not correspond to the demands of Ukrainian laws and "is not an official document, which might be an argument for approving the construction from the ecological viewpoint";since the documentation of the KhAES-2/RAES-4 project does not include the section about closing the reactors, the construction is illegal and, being continued, economically unprofitable;the increase of the atomic energy production capacities with low maneuverability does not solve the main problems of energy production sector of Ukraine; moreover it creates additional problems: shortage of the expensive energy in peak hours and surplus of cheap energy at night;the further enlargement of the atomic energy production (and it gives now more than 50% of energy) increases the economic dependence of Ukraine on the Russian nuclear cycle; this dependence is stricter than the dependence on Russian oil and gas; so, Ukraine inevitably becomes politically dependent on Russia;instead of finishing the construction of the KhAES-2/RAES-4 the government should focus their efforts at energy-saving and the development of alternative energy sources, trying to get rid of the traditional giant-mania;Ukraine possesses the technologies, knowledge and specialists for introducing the real projects of energy-saving and the development of alternative energy production.

So, we have come to the conclusion about THE SECOND GREAT LIE – ON THE ABSENCE OF ALTERNATIVES TO ATOMIC ENERGY PRODUCTION. This alternative does exist: this is the development of energy-saving technologies and energy production based on renewable sources. If to recollect that the level of energy consumption in our communal sector and industry exceeds the average European level in 3-5 times, it becomes obvious that no other alternative must be discussed. The unambiguous conclusion of Ukrainian public ecological organizations is the following: THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE ATOMIC REACTORS KHAES-2/RAES-4 IS ECONOMICALLY, ECOLOGICALLY AND LEGALLY ADVENTUROUS.

It should be noted that the ecological organizations of Ukraine never demanded "immediate and complete refusal to use atomic energy" and "return to candles", as some opponents try to present their activities. The ecological activists understand the impossibility of the immediate closure of the AES or the termination of the transit of nuclear waste through the Ukrainian territory. Yet, there are no convincing grounds for the further growth of nuclear capacities. The only grounds are the interests of Russia lobby and the myths about ecological safety and economical profitability of the "peaceful atom". It is worth mentioning that the notorious 4th reactor of the Chernobyl AES was decorated with the slogan: "The Chernobyl AES works for communism!" It is difficult to believe that the current nuclear projects are dictated by everything except the urgent people’s interests…

If to say about the access to information concerning the state of affairs in the atomic energy production, here we also have many questions. The Chernobyl catastrophe became possible because of the absence of public information and the general closeness of the society. The modern level of the misinformation and concealment of information is almost the same as in the Soviet times. For the first time our organization, the NGO "Zeleny svit", encountered the problem of limited information during the preparation of the public hearings in Chortkiv. We handed the request to give us the complete package of the documents concerning the KhAES-2/RAES-4 project authored by "Energoatom" for the consultations with public. We got the refusal. The complete package includes such important documents as "The assessment of the influence on the environment" and the Technical-economical substantiation. It appeared that one might familiarize with these documents only in "Energoatom" office, at the AESs and in the National scientific library of Kyiv. The request from the Ternopil oblast council to give the information (since the oblast borders with the zones of the atomic stations) was also rejected. It appeared that "Energoatom" ignores not only the requests of public organizations, but they also do not satisfy the informational requests from National Commission of regulating the energy production of Ukraine (NCREPU)! We propose our readers an excerpt from a document issued by the NCREPU.
RESOLUTION No. 1039 of 10 October 2001

On elimination of violating "The Conditions and Rules of entrepreneurial activities in producing electric energy" by the NCAE "Energoatom"

The repeated requests of the Commission to the NCAE "Energoatom" about providing the information for the calculation of the tariffs for the electric energy in the table from were not answered (letters of the NCREPU No. 05-39-10/2711 of 8 December 2000, No. 05-39-10/328 of 06 February 2001, No. 05-39-10/1054 of 27 April 2001). The needed materials were passed to the Commission only in June 2001 – letter of the NCAE "Energoatom" No. 88 of 26 June 2001. The given materials were classified as "for service use only" and may not be used in the regulatory activities of the NCREPU. Taking account of the above-mentioned, the NCREPU sent the NCAE "Energoatom" letter No. 05-39-10/1852 of 26 July 2001 with the proposition to analyze the given materials as to their confidentiality, to cancel all the ungrounded restrictions and to inform the Commission about the decisions taken up to 31 July 2001. Yet, up to 1 October 2001 the Commission received no answer from "Energoatom".

Moreover, after the NCREPU analyzed the indices of the financial and economic activities of the NCAE "Energoatom", it turned to the NCAE with the letter No. 05-39-10/1830 of 24 July 2001. This letter contained the request to give the corresponding explanations about using finances for incorrect purposes (increasing income and, correspondingly, tax obligations for the account of decreasing the factual expenditures for the electric energy production compared to the planned ones by 34.4%) and to decipher other expenditures from the income, which expenditures equaled 789 million UAH 81% of the income) during 5 months of 2001.

The NCAE "Energoatom" answered with letter No. 10459/04 of 3 October 2001, in which the information was given that did not correspond the demands stated in the NCREPU letter No. 05-39-10/1830 of 24 July 2001.

The comments are supercilious. What can be said, if the principal state document regulating the energy production strategy of Ukraine, "The National Program of developing the energy production up to 2010", which was adopted in 1996 without any public discussions, without scientific, technical and economical substantiation and without ecological expertises, is until now concealed from the Ukrainian people under the classification "for service use only". This contradicts to the Law of Ukraine "On information" and the Orgus "Convention on the access to information, participation of the public in taking decisions and on the access to justice in the questions concerning environment". So, there is another, THE THIRD, GREAT LIE – ABOUT FULFILLING THE EUROPEAN NORMS OF OPENNESS. BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND "ENERGOATOM" REFUTE THIS BY THEIR ACTIONS. IN THE QUESTION OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION CONCERNING ATOMIC ENERGY PRODUCTION ONE MAY OBSERVE THE RECURRENCE OF THE "SECRET-MANIA" OF STALIN’S TIMES.

This is a great pity that the six-year epic with the question about crediting the KhAES-2/RAES-4 project by the European Bank developed according to the laws of detective genre with fulfilling all conspiracy rules. As to the public, it was given the role of a remote spectator… As early as in October 2001, Yu. Nedashkovskiy, the president of the NCAE "Energoatom", informed about fulfilling the all demands of Europe concerning safety and about new prospects of modernizing the blocks at the expense of the credit of the EBRD, Euroatom and the bank "Societee General". Unexpectedly, in November of the same year the information appeared about the complete termination of the cooperation with the EBRD in these projects, and in December the Russian-Ukrainian agreement was signed about rendering Russian credits for finishing the construction of the reactors.

It seems plausible that "Energoatom" merely could not guarantee the observation of the European safety norms. The Russian partner, most probably, would not complicate the matter with the additional expenditures for the controlling systems and multi-step protection of the reactors. The logic is simple – "to give the energy to the country as soon as possible", but is this logic correct?

As to the public resistance to the attempt to pull Ukraine into another atomic adventure, this resistance really exists. Maybe, it does not look so resonant as the protests of our East-Europe neighbors against the AESs in Mochowec and Temelin, but it does exist. Only those, who do not want to react to public opinion on principle, may not notice this resistance. The attitude of the Ukrainian public to the KhAES-2/RAES-4 projects has not changed: "UKRAINE DOES NOT NEED NEW NUCLEAR REACTORS! WE HAVE QUITE ENOUGH OF THEM!" Sooner or later the power must heed the public opinion and achieve some mutually acceptable decisions. Such complicated and potentially dangerous technologies as atomic energy production need not only professional knowledge, high technologies and great investments. They can be afforded only by a highly organized society. By a society, in which the freedom of information, human rights and democratic are not suppressed. Are we moving in this direction? May we afford the permanent fruitless opposition? And, finally, how great is the risk of a new Chernobyl?

For preparation of the material we used the information of the electronic conference ([email protected]) and "The review of the campaign of public hearings concerning the project of the construction of the KhAES-2/RAES-4" of the Coalition for energetic safety, knowledge and citizens’ rights, information of the Press center of the Public committee of national safety of Ukraine ( [email protected] ), etc.

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