Nuclear Energy in Ukraine

The whole of Ukraine under threat: Storage of spent nuclear fuel near Kyiv

Photo: connyankee.com

The public is coming down on the Ukrainian Parliament’s decision to place the centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel in Kyiv region. On February 9, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine took the decision to approve the Draft Law on Spent Fuel Management as to Placement, Design and Construction of the Centralized Storage of Nuclear Fuel Used by VVER Reactors of the NPPs supported by the majority of votes of the people’s deputies in the second reading.

According to the Draft Law, it’s planned to build a centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel (CSSNF) between Stara Krasnytsia village, Buriakivka village, Chystohalivka village, and Stechyanka village in Kyiv region, in the exclusion zone which was affected by radioactive contamination as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. The project aims to provide for a temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel in the Chernobyl zone. At the same time, notwithstanding a phrase “temporary storage”, the Draft Law contains not a word on the future of the mentioned spent fuel.

“It’s an irresponsible approach to solution of the problem induced by the nuclear power in Ukraine. In fact, it’s proposed to allocate its solution to future generations with other officials, and nobody will be responsible for a decision taken on the long-term storage of highly radioactive nuclear materials”, says Arthur Denisenko, the Energy Program Coordinator at the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine.

A new nuclear facility will be created in the Chernobyl exclusion zone and become a part of the State Specialized Enterprise “Chernobyl NPP”, it means it will be subordinated to the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine. A similar situation occurred after the ChNPP shutdown. As long as the plant was functioning and generating electricity, the profit was taken by the NPP’s operator (Energoatom). After the plant had been closed, it was transferred to assets of the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine which has neither experience, nor costs to maintain this facility. In much the same way the nuclear fuel used by operating NPPs will be “transferred” to assets of the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine, so the tax payers are supposed to pay for its storage.

At the same time, construction of the storage facility in the Chernobyl zone is dangerous for residents of not only nearby areas. First, in case of any accidents, residents of Chernihiv and Kyiv regions, as well as Belarus may suffer. The Dnieper river being a source of water for 70% of the Ukrainian population may be heavily affected.

Second, the radioactive waste will be transported from all NPPs to the central storage facility by railroad passing by densely populated cities of Ukraine.

Third, construction of the CSSNF will make the Chernobyl zone uninhabitable for at least a century despite any funded revival of the “exclusion zone”. The NPP waste will remain radioactive for thousands of years, and it will need to be stored.

In view of this, the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine proposes to construct a storage of spent nuclear fuel nearby each NPP, as it was arranged in facilities of Zaporizhzhia NPP. It will allow to save on the storage infrastructure and resolve the problem of transportation of hazardous substances. Moreover, Energoatom had considered this option with estimations, so this measure will not become much more expensive than creation of the centralized storage. Above all, the professionals will be continuously supervising spent fuel in storages nearby NPPs.

Please contact us for more details:

Arthur Denisenko
Energy Program Coordinator
National Ecological Centre of Ukraine
tel.: +380 44 3537841, fax: +380 44 2386259
arthur.denisenko at necu.org.ua
www.necu.org.ua
www.atom.org.ua