Old nuclear power units at Zaporizhska NPP: should we take risks ?

To all concerned media

September, 4

Press-release

The lifetime of twelve of 15 Ukrainian nuclear power units expires before 2020. However, government insists on the further use of these units, neglecting a design, risks and citizen rights. The most of Ukrainians, including those living close to NPP, have never heard about such plans. There are significant risks and negative consequences of NPP use beyond the design lifetime and its acceptability should be thoroughly assessed and discussed by society before final approval.

 These and other aspects of the lifetime extension of NPPs activists of environmental CSO’s discussed with locals in settlements situated in region of Zaporizhska NPP in the last week of August. The most interesting was a topic of hidden risks which is so disliked by advocates of nuclear industry: old reactors are dangerous. It’s a well-known fact that if the nuclear reactor is in operation for more than 20 years the probability of equipment failure increases. The reason of it is the process of physical “aging” of equipment due to vibration and radiation, decaying of metal parts and emersion of micro-cracks. Consequences are the next: additional leakage of radionuclides to environment.  However, the modernization of old reactors cannot guarantee their safety. It was proven by an accident at the nuclear unit #1 at Rivnenska NPP which happened only in one month after its lifetime was extended.

In 2010 at Rivnenska NPP two nuclear power units were extended to work for 20 years more. Next in turn are two nuclear units of Yuzhno-Ukrainska and Zaporizhska NPP’s.

From 0,5 to 1,1 billion US dollars have to be spent per one unit with capacity of 1000 MWt. Only because of this the energy price can grow by 20%. Tremendous foreign loans are involved to make lifetime extension possible. These loans increase already huge external debt of Ukraine. Additional years of nuclear unit exploitations means more spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes, measures to prevent ageing of equipment, fresh nuclear fuel etc. All abovementioned requires money. The price of electricity produced at NPP does not cover all these costs. That’s why it appears so cheap.

During the tour representatives of ZNPP confirmed that the price on nuclear electricity is intentionally lowered and it should not be less than 0.42 UAH (aprox. 0.04 EUR) per 1kWh (actual energy price is 0.216 UAH). This was explained by Arthur Denisenko from National Ecological Center of Ukraine, also he told: – “So the myth about “cheap” nuclear energy is dispelled. A so called peaceful atom it is always a compromise between economy and safety. Ukrainian government does not want to maintain this balance and solve problems produced by nuclear energy”.

 According to international obligations taken by Ukraine it is necessary to follow some specific procedures – particularly the public consultations and EIA of NPP – during the lifetime extension of old nuclear units. Atomists do not take all required measures. Zaporizhska NPP also is not exclusion. Environmentalists have involved local citizens to write appeals addressed to government and asking to apply measures to possible violations of rights and interests of citizens.

The tour coordinator Illia Yeremenko from NGO “Ecoclub” speaks: “We want that people in regions of NPP location know how to protect their rights and also have information about available alternative energy sources”.

More than two hundred letters with appeals were sent to the government.

Initiators of tour actively explained possible alternatives to nuclear energy. They also mentioned a research according to which annual loses of Ukrainian economy because of inefficient energy use are equal to 15-17 bill. US $. In opposition to this money invested in energy efficiency will produce 4 to 10 times better economic benefit than investment in new generation capacities. Use of renewable energy sources instead of nuclear power will allow keeping safe and clear environment for future generations.

That’s why environmentalists demonstrated models of renewable energy sources which already are widely implemented in developed countries. Also they provided citizens with information about more efficient energy use in daily life. People have willingly took printed matters because thanks to simple energy saving measures they can not only save their money but the environment too.

Similar informational tours are carried out for few years already in cities around Ukrainian NPPs. Every year the importance of such tours is only increased because of lack of information available to mere citizens.

The tour which lasted from 26 to 31 of August 2013 was organized by the NGO Ecoclub with support of the National Ecological Center of Ukaine and the Association for renewable energy “Alternative”. The financial support of the tour was provided by Heinrich Boell Stiftung. This informational tour included actions in next cities: Marganets, Nikopol, Kamynka-Dniprovska, Energodar, Dniprorudne, Zaporizhya.

More information you can obtain by addressing to:

Illia Yeremenko, the tour coordinator, NGO “Ecoclub” +380634835122

illia@ecoclubrivne.org

Arthur Denisenko, the expert on energy policies of National Ecological Center of Ukraine, +380443537841,

arthur.denisenko@necu.org.ua

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