Saturday, May 19, 2012

Checks of Russian nuclear reactors fail safety hopes - and worse, leaked report reveals -

The exploded reactor at Chernobyl is a grim reminder of what is waiting in the wings unless Russia can undertake an expensive, extensive revamp of its nuclear policies.
A report stunning in its candor prepared for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev by state agencies concerned with the safety of the country's nuclear power reacotrs in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster reveals that Russia’s atomic reactors are grievously under-prepared for both natural and man-made disasters ranging from floods to fires to earthquakes or plain negligence.
Charles Digges, Maria Kaminskaya, 21/06-2011The report of the first round of stress tests on Russia’s nuclear reactors, presented to President Medvedev at a state council meeting on June 9, was obtained by Bellona Web and other environmental groups and distributed to Norwegian and Russian media.

The report comes as several countries have given up on hopes of a nuclear future. Germany had voted to phase out its last nuclear power plant by 2022, and Switzerland plans to follow suit by 2035. Last week, Italy sent a strong message in a referrundum when 95 percent of Italian voters tunred down the opportunity to have a future lighted by nuclear power. Russians have similarly expressed in polls that they would like to see Russia pursue a different energy strategy.

The report would seem to indicate that as the only reasonalble alternative. In it, 31 serious flaws that make Russia’s nuclear industry extremely vulnerable to natural disasters are catalogued. The report's authoship remains somewhat unclear: initially, it was thought to have been authored by Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom.  But reports from other environmental orgazations in Russia - plus Rosatom's hollow soudning but vociferous denials it had anthing to do with the report - indicated that it has most likely come from an amalgam or sources, including the Ministry of Natural Resources, Russia's nuclear oversight body, the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear oversight, or Rostekhnadzor, as well aa Rosatom.

The report is one of the few documents to surface in recent history that actually flatly contradicts Russia’s own rosy assessment that its reactors are safe – a propaganda campaign that was kicked into high gear by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Medvedev after the March 11 quake and tsunami hit Fukushima Daiichi, causing three meltdowns.

Bellona nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer called the report “shocking.”
“It makes for dramatic reading with a view to the fact that the report comes from the owner of the nuclear plants,” he said, describing it as “the most serious description of the status of Russian nuclear plants I have ever seen (...).”

Report confirms long-held fears

The two Russian nuclear power plants that are closest to Finland and Norway – Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and Kola NPP, respectively – are of the most concern to the international community. Both are in close proximity to Western Europe.
“The report reveals deficiencies which have never before been mentioned publicly, nor reported internationally,” chief engineer Ole Reistad of the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology (IFI) told Norway’s NRK television.

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Checks of Russian nuclear reactors fail safety hopes - and worse, leaked report reveals - Bellona

also from Bellona -

Chernobyl in Fukushima’s shadow – nuclear energy today and in the future - Bellona: Chernobyl and Fukushima both showed it is practically impossible to anticipate or predict what will cause an accident, and that it is impossible to construct some algorithm of activity that would avert or localize a catastrophe. Therefore it is not nearly as important what causes an accident at a nuclear power plant as it is what the consequences are that result. We must consider that catastrophes at nuclear power plants have an effect on coming generations. Today, we lack both the knowledge and the experience to deny that.

The Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have shown that nuclear power is vulnerable for many often completely unpredictable reasons. Governments and ordinary people want guarantees of safety and economic viability – qualtied that it must be stated that nuclear energy today do not possess. The future of nuclear power therefore remains undefined.

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