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An open letter on atomic energy stations

Mykola Domnich

Ukrainian radio

26, Khreshchatyk St.

Kyiv 252001

In the TV feature ‘Business Herald’ of 25 November, which is edited by you, the topic of building the second block of Khmelnitsky atomic electric station (KhAES-2) and the fourth block of Rivny atomic electric station (RAES-4) was discussed. In particular, the attitude of the population to atomic electric stations was debated. You stated that the Ukrainian population does not see any alternative to AESs. I believe that it will be more fruitful to discuss the question more concretely.

What concerns the operating AESs, there is no real alternative for their replacement in the near future. Experts say so, the population feel so. There is no noticeable proportion of the population that demands to close operable AESs (except the Chernobyl one). Even among public ecological organizations the idea of immediate closure of all AESs is expressed only by extreme radicals.

However, the reaction to the construction of KhAES-2 and RAES-4 is quite different. In October 1998 I personally participated in the tour in Khmelnitsky region of the group representing seven ecological organizations. It appeared that the absolute majority of the population is against the construction. Paradoxically it concerns those districts which suffer most of frequent cutoffs of electricity. The population disagrees with the construction not because of ignorance or ‘radio phobia’. There are many serious arguments against this construction.

What concerns RAES, it is built on the intersection of tectonic breaks on karst grounds. Subsidence of rocks is frequent here; during building RAES-3 the foundation plate under the reactor broke, and it was made of concrete one meter thick. The predicted seismicity in this place is estimated as six balls according to the Richter scale. Serious changes in hydrogeology increase seismicity at least by one ball, and it is forbidden to build AESs under such conditions.

KhAES has a shortage of water for cooling the second block. It was established by the independent expertise headed by academician D.Grodzinsky in 1992. Nonetheless, there were plans to build six blocks. All these projects were developed in the Soviet Union before the Chernobyl catastrophe. The empire needed to pump energy to their vassals in the East Europe. That was why the places for AESs were chosen close to the Western frontier. The projects did not pass through solid economic and ecological expertises; it was replaced by the will of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

Now we live in a new independent state, Ukraine, and she has her own legislation. According to the operating laws, each such project must have a technical-economic substantiation (TES). Now there exists the TES of the Soviet times, which is based on the economic data that are quite different from the data of the present time. It is impossible to take a decision to start the construction on the basis of the old TES.

The supporters of the construction replace the serious substantiation by the populist slogan: ‘We lack energy’. Ukraine produces energy per head not less than other European countries. We lack energy because Ukraine is the ‘world champion’ in non-efficiency of using energy. The Soviet tradition of wastefulness has not been overcome, on the contrary, it became more powerful. For example, in 1996 ‘Krivorizhstal’ produced only 30% of steel compared to 1990, but used 80% of energy of 1990. Now there are many enterprises that produce nothing, but they consume energy and do not pay for it. As a result, thermal electric stations have not money to buy fuel, so they stop too. There is no crisis of electric power, there is crisis of payments. We may build many new blocks, but if the energy is wasted, the crisis will continue. The State Committee for economizing energy has been created, but nobody economizes.

The new atomic blocks do not assist to solve the gravest problem: how to fight with peak loads. For this atomic energy blocks have not enough maneuverability, in contrast to hydro and thermal electric stations.

Bearing in mind all these arguments, it is easy to understand the population’s attitude to the construction of KhAES-2 and RAES-4. The profound crisis in Ukraine does not allow us to raise the question of the complete closure of all atomic stations, as it is done now in Germany. But it is the moral duty of ecological organizations and journalists to focus the attention of the interested citizens on inadmissibility to build KhAES-2 and RAES-4.

We believe that in the mentioned transmission you gave a biased presentation of the problem. This violates the right of Ukrainian citizens to the objectivity of information on the state of the environment (Article 50 of the Constitution of Ukraine and Articles 5, 9 of the law ‘On information’).


As concerns an alternative to the development of atomic stations, this alternative is in the economical use of energy. Nowadays certain kinds of production in Ukraine demand 3 – 6 times more energy than abroad. The growing cost of energy carriers makes the Ukrainian products incapable to stand competition and thus makes the economic crisis more profound. This is the problem that must be considered every day by authorities, public organizations and mass media. Here lies the way of Ukraine to the future!

Yours respectfully,

Sergey Fedorynchyk

Head of the information center

Ukrainian association ‘Green World’
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