The Chilling Threat Of Nuclear Civil War In Ukraine

Monday, July 7, 2014
By Paul Martin

By: Andrew McKillop
Market Oracle
Jul 07, 2014

Playing With Fire
The WNA-World Nuclear Association which tirelessly promotes nuclear power presents Ukraine as a poster child of civil nuclear power. It says that after construction of Ukraine’s first-ever civil nuclear power complex – at Chernobyl in 1970 – Ukraine’s present 15 NPPs (nuclear reactors) grouped into 4 major complexes operated by State monopoly NNEGC Energoatom had a combined capacity of about 13 900 MW and were all VVER-type reactors (mostly VVER-320s) of Soviet design. Using 2009 data, they produced about 48% of Ukraine’s total electricity output of 177 billion kWh of which 4 billion kWh was exported.

Nearly all major Ukrainian NPP complexes are in western Ukraine – with the exception of Zaporijia or Zaporhyzhya, located about 125 kms north of Crimea. Flight time from Crimea in a Mikoyan-Gourevitch 29 (Mig-29 or Su-29) carrying up to 5000 kilograms weight of bombs and missiles can be estimated at about 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Russia’s Crimean forces also have the later navalised enhanced Mig-29K codenamed Fulcrum-D by Nato, with a combat radius of about 1800 kilometres.

The net total capacity of the six-reactor Zaporija complex is given by the WNA as the highest in Europe, at 5718 MW, with the Graveslines complex near Dunkerque in France, operated by France’s EDF as second-largest in Europe at 5400 MW. The radiological inventory of either of these complexes is hundreds of times the radiological output of the single Hiroshima atom bomb of 1945.

Apart from Zaporija-6, all other VVER-320 reactors at the complex were built before 1989 with a 30-year design lifetime. Rather than decommissioning these reactors, and as in other European countries, Ukraine has sought to extend their operating lifetimes. As of March 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) announced a 300 million euro loan for reactor safety upgrading to the end of 2017, matching another 300 million euro loan from Euratom.

In total, EU atomic agencies have provided or intend to provide 1.4 billion euros to extend Ukrainian reactor lifetimes by investing in “up to 87 safety measures addressing design and safety issues”, including national emergency preparedness for NPP accident management.

To be sure, none of this includes deliberate attack by military aircraft on particularly soft NPP targets!

Unsafe (Even In) Peacetime
Soviet design VVERs have a deserved reputation for danger. Accession to the European Union of Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania was delayed solely by the question of shutting down their 8 Soviet-design PWRs (pressurized water reactors).

This was a non-negotiable condition for their entry to the EU.

However and overall in eastern Europe, 11 of the earlier RBMK series of PWRs, and 4 VVER 230s, which preceded the slightly safer 320s still operate. The RBMK series, exactly like early Westinghouse (American) PWRs was directly scaled up from graphite-moderated, water-cooled submarine power reactors. It could be called a “naked reactor” due to its critically low amounts of shielding and cladding. Apart from submarine propulsion, its other main design goal was maximized plutonium production – for bomb material – during operation. Operator safety was a minor concern!

The Rest…HERE

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