Kiev is trying to abandon nuclear cooperation with Moscow

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In Ukraine, have announced plans to spend up to 2024 modernization of the country’s nuclear power plants, spent on it of $ 240 million. One of the features of the project – an attempt to establish its own production of equipment for the four nuclear power plants. Kiev is trying to completely abandon nuclear cooperation with Moscow, not even paying attention to the fact that haste in such matters is fraught with the risk of man-made disasters.

“We essentially expand our cooperation in the framework of import substitution program, and this is particularly important in the current political conditions”, – said the president of the National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” Yuri Nedashkovsky in approving the program of modernization of 15 units of the four Ukrainian nuclear power plants for the period 2020-2024 years.

Key partner “Energoatom” will be the Kharkov machine-building plant “Turboatom”, which will lay down and the implementation of import substitution plans.

The first section of the program involves replacing eight condensers turbines units, including four – in Russia. The total increase in capacity then will be about 400 MW.

Last year, the project “Development and maintenance of condensers of steam turbines of nuclear power plants” received the State Prize of Ukraine in the field of science and technology. Allegedly made “Turboatom” modular capacitors have been successfully operated at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Units Zaporizhzhya and on the 1st and 2nd Units South Ukrainian NPP Nikolaev region. On the third power unit of the station are now ending the condenser assembly. Now, “Turboatom” declares its readiness to make new capacitors for the 1st and 6th units of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th units of the Rovno nuclear power plants in the next two years, the 1 st and 2 -th Khmelnytsk NPP.

The new word in Ukrainian industry

Plans for Ukrainian nuclear scientists to organize the production of key components in the country related to the long-standing intentions of Ukraine to give up Russian nuclear fuel. Back in 2014, against the backdrop of a sharp aggravation of Russian-Ukrainian relations, “Energoatom” signed on nuclear fuel supply agreement on certain blocks of Ukrainian nuclear power plants with a Japanese-American company Westinghouse, which has long wanted to move to Ukrainian market, the main fuel supplier – the Russian company “TVEL “that is part of the fuel division corporation” Rosatom “.

The first attempts to go to the Westinghouse Ukraine made during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, who had diverse ties with the US, but his successor, Viktor Yanukovych Ukrainian nuclear scientists to strengthen cooperation with Russia.

After the overthrow of Yanukovych American company emerged in the country almost immediately. In March 2015 the first fuel cassettes produced in the Westinghouse plant in Sweden, were loaded into the reactor unit number 3 South Ukrainian nuclear power plant.

And in March 2016 Westinghouse entered the Ukrainian nuclear power and on the other the profile of its activities – the design of nuclear reactors and power units. Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation signed between the company and the Kharkov “Turboatom”, he suggested that as a result of the modernization of the equipment total capacity located at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Russian VVER-1000 will be raised to the level of 110% of the nominal.

Parish Westinghouse Ukraine was anxious perceived in Russia – up to the Russian Foreign Ministry claims that the fuel supplier change ignores the principles of nuclear safety and provokes a threat to the health of citizens of Ukraine and other European countries. For its part, the company “TVEL” spoke about the readiness of strictly abide by the existing contract with the “Energoatom”, designed to end the life of the units.

Last year, Ukraine has extended the action of the contract until 2025, retaining “TVEL” dominant position in the market of nuclear fuel (eight reactors out of 15). But in fact in the first half of this year, most of the nuclear fuel – 70.4 tons worth 51.2 million dollars – Ukraine purchased in Sweden, but only 60.3 tons of fuel by 49.5 million was purchased in Russia.

After 2021 the Swedish fuel will be loaded as early as seven out of 13 Ukrainian nuclear power units with VVER-1000 reactors. Spent fuel assemblies will be sent to the new store, which is now under construction in the Chernobyl zone. Corresponding to the $ 1.4 billion contract awarded to the American company Holtec International.

“We have for the past three years have become completely independent of the Russian Federation. If Russia, we generally will not supply nuclear fuel, we will be able to provide for themselves and operate without the supply of nuclear fuel from Russia “, – the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy Igor Nasalik said August 21.

However, potential problems associated with re-orientation to partners from the US, are very large. “Americans, including company Westinghouse, had not been able to solve the problem of fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants. Westinghouse could not do the same fuel assembly in Russia “, – says the Deputy Director General of the Center for Strategic Research” North-West “Dmitry Sanatov.

According to him, it is possible that the Ukrainians have progressed in addressing the problem of fuel, but the risks are enormous and will remain so forever, because Russian design reactors.

“Out of the situation – the construction of new reactors of American design, but it is expensive,” – he said in an interview with Sanatov Vzglyad.

In recent years, Ukrainian nuclear power plants are regularly supplied alarms.

“From 2014 on Ukraine, the growing number of emergency stops units, anti-record set in 2017, when it was recorded 11 such cases – said the Kiev economic analyst Denis Gajewski. – The issue of updating the material and technical base of Ukrainian NPPs is acute, because 12 of the 15 units have worked for over 30 years. By 2018, ten units have finished the design lifetime, then they are extended for another 10-20 years, but in some cases it was a purely technical rollover without a strict observance of all the necessary procedures. But alternatives to extend the operational life of nuclear power plants, where the operating cost of electricity production of the lowest compared to other generation types Ukraine does not have.

In order to maintain the functioning of nuclear power is unlikely to be dispensed without the cooperation of “Rosatom” and the international financial institutions, stresses Gajewski.

Not all is lost for Russia

Despite the crisis in Russian-Ukrainian relations, the interaction between the atomic scientists of the two countries in recent years has not stopped completely. Its general principles have been identified as early as January 1993, when Russia and Ukraine signed an intergovernmental agreement on scientific and technical and economic cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. It provides for the importation into Russia of irradiated nuclear fuel in temporary storage and processing with the subsequent return of radioactive waste in Ukraine. Ukrainian processing of spent nuclear fuel has been “Mayak” in the city of Ozersk, Chelyabinsk region.

In addition, in Russia with Ukraine removal of spent fuel assemblies (SFA) for VVER-1000 reactors. The number of assemblies, the cost of work and terms of return of spent fuel assemblies from the South Ukrainian, Khmelnitsky and Rovno nuclear power plant for each year are determined by additional agreements to the contract between the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Mining and Chemical Combine” (the city of Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory) and Ukrainian NAEC “Energoatom”. Part of the funds earmarked for receipt, will be directed to finance the activities of social and environmental issues in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, reported “Rosatom”, in August 2015, when the train arrived in Zheleznogorsk SFA with unit №1 of South-Ukrainian NPP.

Do not interrupted, and the cooperation with the “Turboatom”, which is an important supplier to the Russian nuclear power industry.

In the summer of 2014, at the height of the fighting in the Donbas, Kharkov company announced the completion of works on the second capacitor housing for the turbine building under the fourth of the Rostov nuclear power plant under a contract signed in 2011.

Not buried completely and long-standing Russian plans to build a plant to produce nuclear fuel in the Kirovograd region, which was to earn more in 2015. a joint venture with a share of “TVEL” company was created in the 50% minus one share, but the project, whose cost is estimated at $ 450 million, had to be frozen. In April this year at the forum “Atomexpo-2019,” the vice-president of “TVEL” Oleg Grigoriev declared its readiness to resume the negotiations, “if the Ukrainian side will decide the project was successfully completed on the terms that were previously.”

Ukraine, for which the appearance of such a plant is of strategic importance, the project does not give up. In 2016, the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy Igor Nasalik argued that it is ready to take over all the same Westinghouse, but the company denied this information, and in April 2017 started the procedure of bankruptcy due to accumulated debts.

Last year, the future of nuclear fuel showed another potential partner – China China Nuclear Energy Industry Corp., announced its intention to buy out the share of “TVEL” in the Ukrainian project.

In this January Nasalik he said that Ukraine has received permission to use Westinghouse technology of its production of nuclear fuel, and it gives the opportunity to complete construction of the plant within three years.

“Just six months will be announcing a competition for the construction of the plant,” – he said in February.

Thus, the fate of the project must be defined in the coming weeks, but they will have to engage in another official – the new Minister of Energy of Ukraine Alexey Orzhel government, the 35-year-old MP from the Party of “public servants” and the head of Ukrainian Renewable Energy Association. With this man, the last few years working in the private sector of the Ukrainian energy sector, Russia will probably have to build a relationship from scratch.

Ukraine as a threat

Russia is interested in the maximum involvement in the fate of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at a minimum in order to avoid a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster, says political analyst Stanislav Smagin. According to him, this is a purely pragmatic point: if Moscow largely been abandoned neutralization of Ukraine as a factor in the geopolitical and civilizational threat, it is necessary to control at least the threat of man-made.

Now she will have to show considerable political skills to such diverse processes as the desire to refuse to cooperate with Russia in the nuclear sphere and commitment to the implementation of new nuclear projects, unfolded in our favor and were under our control. The grounds for that.

“After the collapse of the USSR Russia was his main heir, including in terms of nuclear energy – research capacity, productive capacity, human resources – like Smagin. – Ukraine is left with a few nuclear power plants and at the same time without nuclear weapons. With all the cynicism of the US in Washington we were not ready to give up part of the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the hands of people whose political relevance and maturity is on the level of savages with what some islands of Oceania. Suffice it to recall that in periods of aggravation of Russian-Ukrainian relations, particularly in 2014 and after, in the hot heads periodically Kiev was born the idea to create their own “dirty bomb” of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes. But even without such plans of nuclear power plants with technical problems and in the politically unstable country on their own “dirty bomb.” Therefore, it is desirable to keep them, and nuclear fuel under control. “

Right now, after the election of the new president of Ukraine, the new composition of the Verkhovna Rada and the formation of the cabinet, for Russia the right time to try to neutralize and ride the Ukrainian problems, threats and pressure points even where this is possible – and where the Russian leadership has the political and economic I will do it.

“Nuclear power – sums Smagin, – one of the obvious areas, besides here and in Russia with Europe and the United States there is a general understanding of the Ukrainian nuclear power plants as a threat, which is better not to disturb and to keep under control, so the reasonable security concerns here prevail over political intrigues and competition for economic benefit. “

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