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26.04.2010

24 years since the Chernobyl Disaster: environmentalists warn of new dangers

   

On 26 April Ukraine remembers the victims of the Chernobyl Disaster, while environments point to serious problems due to the accumulation of nuclear waste and the extension in the term of exploitation of the reactors.

Environmental organizations complain that Ukraine, while not having overcome the consequences of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, is creating new nuclear threats. They condemn the plans according to which in 2020 80% of the reactors at nuclear power plants will be working beyond their planned lifetime. According to Dmytro Khmara from the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU], this will pose additional dangers for the population and the environment, and says that there can be no grounds for allowing obsolete reactors to continue functioning.

The Head of the civic organization “Ecoclub”, Andriy Martynyuk comments: “The arguments we see as of significance are that nuclear energy is very expensive in Ukraine. However much the lobbyists of nuclear energy may claim that it is cheep, they can’t give figures since nobody has really calculated yet how much nuclear energy in Ukraine costs”. 

Mr Khmara believes that the best option for Ukraine would be to gradually take unsafe parts of the nuclear industry out of use and direct the funds spent on their upkeep at increasing energy efficiency in industry and housing, as well as on the development of cheaper sources of energy.

Construction of new power units

NECU considers the plans to construct a third and fourth power unit for the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station an expensive and reckless scheme. In the last few days, the Cabinet of Ministers signed a loan agreement with the Russian Federation for this construction work. NECU specialists say that there is not one functioning reactor of the VVER-100 (V-3926) type planned for the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station, and Russia is only planning such construction. Ukraine’s energy strategy up to 2030 envisages an increase in nuclear energy capacity. The third and fourth units of the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station are planned to be constructed by the end of 2016.

According to the NECU Energy Programme Coordinator, Artur Denysenko, Ukraine has excess capacity and at the peak of energy consumption, 5 of the 15 present blocs did not provide energy to the network.

Andriy Martynyuk maintains that in planning construction of new units, they need to clearly state how much they will cost and the cost price of the energy, and that nobody is providing this information. He adds that virtually all public opinion surveys show that Ukrainians are against the construction of new nuclear blocs.

Nuclear waste

Andriy Martynyuk mentions also problems with what to do with radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel, as well as the problem of water for cooling reactors. Artur Denysenko believes that the creation of a central storage facility at Chernobyl will merely exacerbate the situation, dumping the problem on future generations which is totally immoral.  He adds that the only effective solution regarding used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste can be to not produce them. He stresses that Ukraine should be aiming its efforts at increasing energy efficiency in its economy.

From a report by Olha Vesnyanka at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5504413,00.html

On 26 April Ukraine remembers the victims of the Chernobyl Disaster, while environments point to serious problems due to the accumulation of nuclear waste and the extension in the term of exploitation of the reactors.

Environmental organizations complain that Ukraine, while not having overcome the consequences of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, is creating new nuclear threats. They condemn the plans according to which in 2020 80% of the reactors at nuclear power plants will be working beyond their planned lifetime. According to Dmytro Khmara from the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU], this will pose additional dangers for the population and the environment, and says that there can be no grounds for allowing obsolete reactors to continue functioning.

The Head of the civic organization “Ecoclub”, Andriy Martynyuk comments: “The arguments we see as of significance are that nuclear energy is very expensive in Ukraine. However much the lobbyists of nuclear energy may claim that it is cheep, they can’t give figures since nobody has really calculated yet how much nuclear energy in Ukraine costs”. 

Mr Khmara believes that the best option for Ukraine would be to gradually take unsafe parts of the nuclear industry out of use and direct the funds spent on their upkeep at increasing energy efficiency in industry and housing, as well as on the development of cheaper sources of energy.

Construction of new power units

NECU considers the plans to construct a third and fourth power unit for the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station an expensive and reckless scheme. In the last few days, the Cabinet of Ministers signed a loan agreement with the Russian Federation for this construction work. NECU specialists say that there is not one functioning reactor of the VVER-100 (V-3926) type planned for the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station, and Russia is only planning such construction. Ukraine’s energy strategy up to 2030 envisages an increase in nuclear energy capacity. The third and fourth units of the Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Station are planned to be constructed by the end of 2016.

According to the NECU Energy Programme Coordinator, Artur Denysenko, Ukraine has excess capacity and at the peak of energy consumption, 5 of the 15 present blocs did not provide energy to the network.

Andriy Martynyuk maintains that in planning construction of new units, they need to clearly state how much they will cost and the cost price of the energy, and that nobody is providing this information. He adds that virtually all public opinion surveys show that Ukrainians are against the construction of new nuclear blocs.

Nuclear waste

Andriy Martynyuk mentions also problems with what to do with radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel, as well as the problem of water for cooling reactors. Artur Denysenko believes that the creation of a central storage facility at Chernobyl will merely exacerbate the situation, dumping the problem on future generations which is totally immoral.  He adds that the only effective solution regarding used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste can be to not produce them. He stresses that Ukraine should be aiming its efforts at increasing energy efficiency in its economy.

From a report by Olha Vesnyanka at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5504413,00.html

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