Save Ukraine Committee: Another nuclear disaster is waiting to happen in Ukraine due to incompetent government
As we approach 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster, the Save Ukraine Committee warns that another man-made nuclear disaster may soon happen in Ukraine due to the incompetence of its authorities.
We fully support the recent statement by the Nuclear Power Plant Operator Union calling on the government to stop experimenting with the so-called power maneuvers. The union essentially to follow this order of the Energy Ministry because experiments with the load of Ukrainian nuclear reactors intended to balance the energy system may lead to a disaster. The purpose of our statement is to point out to European leaders and the whole world that the Ukrainian government is playing with fire.
Nuclear operators explain that “Ukrainian nuclear reactors were designed back in the days of the Soviet Union and for technical reasons cannot be used for daily power maneuvers.” In fact, the reason Ukrainian authorities want nuclear plants to engage in these dangerous maneuvers is because Ukraine has cut itself off from Crimea, Russia and Eastern Europe and thus lost the capacity to distribute power consumption more evenly. As a result, it faces power shortages during peak hours. In addition, Ukraine used to get nuclear fuel from Russia, and no alternative sources are currently available. This is why the authorities made a decision which borders on crime: make reactors work at the maximum capacity during peak times and reduce the load almost to two-thirds when demand is low. What is worse is that these dangerous maneuvers are performed on nuclear reactors, many of which have outlived their safe life span and have not had proper major repairs since Ukraine cut ties with the Russian nuclear industry.
Unlike their bosses who are willing to follow absurd orders, power plant operators reasonably point out Soviet-era reactors cannot be used for such criminal experiments. These reactors need to be modernized, but the authorities refuse to do so and instead tell the plants to fully switch to the daily maneuver mode of operation by Dec. 31, 2016. The operator union calls it a “crime” and reminds that the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl plant in 1986 happened as a result of the same kind of experiments.
This is not the first time that the entire Europe is in danger because of the Ukrainian authorities. We remember how the South Ukraine and Zaporozhye nuclear power plants responded when the authorities decided to put foreign fuel manufactured by Westinghouse into Soviet-built reactors.
The Ukrainian authorities decided to change the Soviet nature of reactors at two nuclear power plants, Zaporozhye and South Ukraine, hoping that this would compensate for all their past failures.
Earlier attempts to use American fuel failed; all fuel rods had to be removed and replaced with Russian-made fuel. The Ukrainian authorities insist on these insane plans as part of their overall strategy “to cut economic ties with Russia as an umbilical cord,” a policy Kiev seems to be obsessed with.
For example, Ukraine has cancelled its contract with Russia for the Khmelnitsky NPP. The situation in the nuclear power industry is disastrous: in ten years from now, all of Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities will be out of operation. In this context, President Poroshenko looks like a hypocrite when he declares 2016 “the year of honoring Chernobyl liquidators and remembering the victims of the disaster” and instructs the government to “prepare a plan of commemorative events.” The liquidators responded to Poroshenko by blocking the Kiev-Kharkov highway near Poltava on April 12. The people Poroshenko wanted to honor staged a protest at the village of Voinikh, demanding pensions and Chernobyl benefits, as envisaged in the bill approved in March but later vetoed by the president. This was the president’s “gift” to the few remaining participants of Chernobyl response operations on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.
The Save Ukraine Committee points out to European leaders that nuclear plant operators are highly professional specialists and it would be criminal negligence to ignore their appeal. The global community must immediately support the workers and force the Kiev authorities to abandon their dangerous plans. Incompetence and irresponsible behavior of the current Ukrainian government may lead to a great tragedy for the entire mankind.