UKRAINE: AND G-7 SET FOR FALLOUT OVER EBRD
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SILMET, ESTONIA -- SILMET'S "URANIUM LAKE" NEEDS A BILLION KROONS in order to be
safely contained, according to the environment commissioner of the European Union, Ritt
Bjerregaard, after a recent visit to the toxic waste dump at Silmet. The dump site is
reported to contain 1,200 tons of uranium, 800 tons of thorium, 7 kilograms of radium and
by-products of the decomposition of uranium. The toxic waste accumulated during the period
when Silmet was a secret Soviet military factory. Mr. Bjerregaard inquired into the
possibility of liquidating the base completely and other ways of stopping the future usage
of the lake as a dump site. Estonian government has already allocated 4.8 million kroons
to seal the banks of the lake which in some points is only 20 meters from the Baltic Sea.
IGNALINA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, LITHUANIA -- Due to a failure, the reactor of power unit No.
1 of the Ignalina power plant was stopped on September 10. The plant entirely halted
operation, as the power unit No. 2 was under the planned repair. At 2:10 in the morning
(local time) plant operators noticed the leakage of lubricant in the system regulating the
turbogenerator of the first power unit. The turbine was turned off according to
instructions. Then automatically the reactor of this unit was stopped. Radiation levels
outside the plant reportedly did not change. The reasons of the failure are being
analyzed. This is already the fifth forced stoppage of the Ignalina plant in its history,
but the second in a one-month period. The plant also went of operation from August 27 to
VILNIUS - THE LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT HAS APPROVED A DRAFT LAW ON NUCLEAR ENERGY. The draft
law is aimed at ensuring nuclear safety in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and
preventing the use of nuclear fuel and waste in armament development within Lithuania. The
draft law was worked out in accordance with Lithuanian commitments to the Nuclear Safety
Convention. The law would regulate nuclear energy management principles, licensing,
nuclear entities maintenance, nuclear materials, equipment export and import terms. The
draft law is to be further discussed by the National Safety, Environmental Protection, and
Economic Committees of the Seimas.
RUSSIA - ENVIRONMENTALISTS STOPS NEW NUCLEAR PLANT' START UP
ROSTOV-ON-DON, October 8 (AAP), - the head of local authority of the Rostov region, middle
Russia, Vladimir Chub signed the statement on Rostov NPP in last days of September.
According to this statement, the regional authority will need to organize local referendum
on Rostov Nuclear Power Plant' start up and also the environmental expertize of the plant.
The plant will only be putted into operation if citizens will say "yes" to the
NPP' start up. But to organize this referendum the authority need now to get positive
decision of the environmental expertize before the referendum organizing. x-USSR
Antinuclear campaign together with other environmental groups organized the campaign
against proposed start up of the Rostov NPP during August-September 1996. The statement of
the head of Rostov authority included some demands of the environmentalists.
RUSSIAN NUCLEAR PLANT CASH CRISIS DEEPENS
The national organisation responsible for operating Russia's nuclear power stations,
Rosenergoatom, says a "critical situation" has developed at some plants over the
non-payment of workers' wages.
In an unprecedented statement issued to NucNet today (Monday), Rosenergoatom gave a
detailed account of the financial crisis facing Russia's nuclear electricity sector.
The root cause of the problem is the amount of money owed to the grid by consumers for
electricity supplied by the nuclear plants. The total debt exceeded five trillion roubles
($940 million) as of September 1st. This means that the grid company, "United Power
System of Russia" (RAO EES), cannot guarantee payments to the nuclear stations for
the electricity they produce. Payments made to the plants are in proportion to the money
obtained from consumers.
Rosenergoatom said: "These circumstances seriously aggravate the financial
situation at nuclear power plants. Absence of wage payments for the plant personnel
inevitably leads to the rise of social tension in the working groups, which is directly
linked to the stability and safety of the plants."
During July and August, officials of the Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom) and
Rosenergoatom made an attempt to improve the situation. On July 12th, a meeting of the
council of nuclear plant managers, chaired by Atomic Energy Minister Victor Mikhailov,
decided that wages owed to the plant personnel should be paid off by the end of August.
On the government front, President Yeltsin signed a decree on July 2nd, dealing with
the stable operation of the nuclear plants. The decree called on the government to work
out and approve by September 1st the basic principles of a federal wholesale electricity
market, and to define a mechanism for direct payments from power-intensive consumers for
the electricity supplied by the nuclear plants. The president put the government under an
obligation to take urgent steps to pay off the wages owed to the plant personnel.
Specifically, RAO EES was urged to pay off the debts to all nuclear plants, and submit
copies of the relevant documents to the government and Security Council. Pay-off schedules
were prepared by the nuclear plants.
"However," adds Rosenergoatom, "the actual critical financial situation
at the nuclear plants in July-August has not changed, and the pay-off schedules were
broken." By September 1st, RAO EES was due to transfer 82.1 billion roubles to the
nuclear plants for April-May wage payments. But according to Rosenergoatom, only 18.6
billion roubles was transferred.
Rosenergoatom said: "In the context of protracted delays with wage payments (over
three months), the situation at some nuclear power plants has become critical."
At a trade union conference, held at the Smolensk nuclear station on August 27th,
workers declared a "pre-strike situation" and decided to go into dispute with
the plant administration. Similar decisions were taken at the Bilibino, Kalinin and Kola
plants, and on September 5th, a group of Russian nuclear power workers staged a
"warning picket" at the Moscow headquarters of RAO EES.
UKRAINE: AND G-7 SET FOR FALLOUT OVER EBRD
Ukraine and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are expected to
conclude a 118 million Ecu package for improvements to Chernobyl nuclear power plant at
this week's G7 summit. At the same time, Ukraine will warn that the EBRD's
"bureaucratic management" of the Nuclear Safety Account (NSA) and other funds
could delay the planned shutdown of Chernobyl by many years.
The package, which both Ukrainian and EBRD officials say is almost agreed, provides for
short-term safety upgrades to Chernobyl-3, on-site spent fuel storage and liquid waste
treatment facilities. However, in an interview with NucNet, Ukraine's Minister for Nuclear
Energy, Viktor Chebrov, criticised the EBRD's recent decision to review the cost
effectiveness of completing partially-built nuclear reactors at Rovno-4 and Khmelnitsky-2.
He said this could mean that replacement capacity to compensate for the closure of
Chernobyl would not be available by 2000.
Ukraine says it will ask the G7 to put pressure on the bank to change the rules for
releasing funds for the Chernobyl project - including building replacement nuclear
capacity and upgrading existing fossil fuel plants - or to find another organisation to
manage the project. Mr Chebrov said that the original decision to complete these reactors
had been made by the World Bank and the G7, against the advice of Ukraine. The Ukrainians
had proposed that a more expensive gas-fired station should be built as Chernobyl's
replacement. He said: "Our joint memorandum with the G7 commits us to finishing these
reactors. Since we signed it, we have invested a lot of money in them. If the EBRD will
not provide finance, we will do it alone."
However, the EBRD position is that it is acting at the request of the French President
and G7 Chairman Jacques Chirac, who asked it in January to consider possible completion of
Rovno-4 and Khmelnitsky-2 on the basis of the least cost principle. The NSA, according to
the EBRD, applies only to decommissioning operating power stations, not to building new
ones. The release of other funds has to be subject to stringent banking criteria.
The Ukrainians have been holding high level meetings with Mr. Chirac to seek
clarification of the EBRD's position because, in their view, it does not tally with the
spirit of the memorandum. Mr. Chebrov emphasised that even if the EBRD does finally decide
to provide financial assistance, the chances of completing construction by 2000 are slim.
He explained that the construction team is not being paid and equipment on-site is not
being maintained. In a year's time, a new workforce may have to be assembled and much of
the existing equipment will have to be scrapped and replaced. This would set the project
back well into the next century.
Meanwhile, Chernobyl-1 will close on November 30th. But Mr. Chebrov says Chernobyl-2,
shut down after a turbine hall fire in 1991, may be restarted next year. He explained that
it would cost much more to make safety upgrades and to recondition unit one than the $60
to $70 million needed to restart unit two. However, reopening unit two would be highly
Sources: EBRD, Goscomatom, Rosenergoatom, Ukrainian Nuclear Society, ELTA, TEN, NucNet
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Sidst opdateret 8. december 1997