On Sunday, March 5, nuclear reactor number 3 at the Zaporizhia power plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, will reach the end of its 30 year lifespan. Kiev wants to keep this Soviet-era nuclear unit going for at least ten more years, just like six other nuclear units which have already been granted lifetime extensions. But, for the first time and following a lot of international pressure, the Ukrainian government is planning to ask its neighbours whether they are OK with this. Or at least that’s what it says.
Kiev, Prague - An ageing nuclear unit in the South Ukraine power plant is the latest to have its expiry date rewritten by overzealous Ukrainian authorities, despite a number of pending safety issues and concerns over compliance with international treaties.
BRATISLAVA - Rada Ukrajinského jadrového regulátora v pondelok rozhodla o tom, že reaktor Južno-Ukrajinský 2, ktorý je len o 130 km ďalej od Bratislavy ako Černobyľ, má byť v prevádzke o desať rokov dlhšie ako je jeho predpísaná životnosť.
Reaktor bol od mája dočasne odstavený kvôli nesplneniu prioritných bezpečnostných opatrení. Časť z nich však zostáva nezrealizovaná.
Mimovládne organizácie žiadajú vlády okolitých krajín, vrátane slovenskej, aby podnikli kroky na zvýšenie jadrovej bezpečnosti v regióne.
Citing 33 safety issue failings, at the end of April Ukraine's nuclear regulator took the decision to suspend operations at Unit 2 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant by a May 12 deadline, the date marking the end of the plant's design lifetime. Under the terms of the Ukrainian State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate Council's decision, should the state-owned nuclear energy operator Energoatom wish to resume the unit's operations beyond its design lifetime it will have to implement all necessary measures by May 2017.
The EBRD has denied its role in enabling Ukraine’s ageing units to operate beyond their design lifetime. It has also claimed that through the loan it has important leverage over its client Energoatom to help ensure a proper level of nuclear safety and the compliance with Ukraine’s international commitments in the nuclear energy sector. However, developments in January-May 2015 show the EBRD has been over-optimistic about the role and leverage it has gotten by granting the loan for the safety upgrade project.
This independent study reveals critical vulnerabilities in the 32 year old nuclear unit 1 in the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, whose lifetime was extended by 10 years in December 2013. The study shows the reactor pressure vessel in unit 1 has several dangerous vulnerabilities that could lead to the appearance of micro-cracks in the vessel's metal casing. The observed wear in a number of elements in the reactor vessel already exceeds tenfold tolerable levels.
On November 28, the state nuclear regulator of Ukraine (SNRIU) allowed the continued operation of unit 1 of the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant (SUNPP-1) until December 2, 2023 - 10 years beyond its technically designed lifetime. The decision not only constitutes a breach of national regulation, but also disregards an unresolved case of non-compliance with the UN Espoo Convention. All this while Energoatom is in an increasingly tight financial situation.