Russia in a nuclear bind – new reactors unaffordable, making old one safe also unaffordable

The decommissioning of nuclear plants after exhausting their resources will put an enormous strain on Russian state budget. Largely for this reason, Rosatom is making every effort to prolong their operational life, knowing quite well that there will be economic shockwaves in the industry should nuclear units be closed.

Russia’s Dangerous Nuclear Legacy – Analysis Eurasia Review, By: Richard Rousseau June 18, 2012“…….The safety of nuclear reactors is primarily provided through the increased number of sophisticated security systems and physical barriers that limit or contain potential radiation leaks. These systems consist of a combination of natural and artificial barriers that work in tandem and complement each other in assuring the required
long-term isolation of the waste by preventing or limiting the movement of radioactive substances from the infrastructure of the repository to the biosphere.

However, in essence this has made nuclear plants increasingly more complex systems, which in turn drives up their construction and operation costs, while it is still impossible to achieve a 100 percent safety level. Theories and actual experience
on nuclear energy have taught us that there is no absolute guarantee
and that some risks will always remain.

Many Russian and foreign specialists are adamantly opposed to
extending the designed working life of old nuclear units, such as
nuclear units 3 and 4 of the Novovoronezh nuclear plant (Voronezh
Oblast, central Russia) and units 1 and 2 of the Kolski nuclear plants
(Murmansk region). The Leningrad and Smolensk nuclear plants, located
in St. Petersburg and Kursk, respectively and which operate eleven
nuclear units, are also too old to be given a new lease on life.

These nuclear plants do not meet modern safety requirements—based on
the principle of Russian matryoshka doll—which provides for a system
of superimposed barriers to prevent the release of radioactive
substances into the atmosphere. Considering that management of nuclear
power plants operating on Russian territory follows the rules and
safety standards that were applied when first put into service—in some
cases a few decades ago—none of these nuclear plants can at present
fully meet modern safety requirements. Also, Russia’s dismal record in
coping with nuclear accidents means that another Chernobyl-like
accident is not a far-fetched scenario.

Massive means and interventions are always necessary in tackling an
accident at a nuclear plant. For instance, expenses incurred by
countries affected by the Chernobyl disaster to minimize the
environmental and social consequences exceeded over $700 billion over
a 25-year period, and will be counted into the billions of dollars on
an annual basis for many more years. Ukraine is still underwriting
about 5 percent of its national budget to deal with the effects of the
Chernobyl’s disaster; Belarus close to 10 percent and Russia from 0.5
to 1 percent.
The decommissioning of nuclear plants after exhausting their resources will put an enormous strain on Russian state budget. Largely for this reason, Rosatom is making every effort to prolong their operational life, knowing quite well that there will be economic shockwaves in the industry should nuclear units be closed…….
http://www.eurasiareview.com/18062012-russias-dangerous-nuclear-legacy-analysis/

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