Updated: Nuclear-powered Russia a threat to Norway / News / The Foreigner

Updated: Nuclear-powered Russia a threat to Norway. Russia’s ageing nuclear industry is still causing concern for Norway almost 25 years on from the Chernobyl disaster. Whilst the eyes of the world are on unfolding events at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Russia’s St. Petersburg and Kola facilities have the potential to be equally lethal for Norway’s population. Norway is still counting the cost of Chernobyl, with livestock and crops screened and treated for radioactivity. Norwegian scientists have also concluded post-Chernobyl teenagers, foetuses at the time of the accident, performed significantly worse in full-scale IQ tests.

nilsboehmer, bellonafoundation, chernobyl, stpetersburg, kola, andreyevabay, murmansk



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Updated: Nuclear-powered Russia a threat to Norway

Published on Thursday, 17th March, 2011 at 11:26 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 17th March 2011 at 22:37.

Russia’s ageing nuclear industry is still causing concern for Norway almost 25 years on from the Chernobyl disaster.

Kola Nuclear Power Plant (illus. ph.)
Kola: one of the potential threats to NorwayKola Nuclear Power Plant (illus. ph.)
Photo: КольскаяАЭС/Wikimedia Commons


Russian roulette

Whilst the eyes of the world are on unfolding events at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Russia’s St. Petersburg and Kola facilities have the potential to be equally lethal for Norway’s population.

Norway is still counting the cost of Chernobyl, with livestock and crops screened and treated for radioactivity. Norwegian scientists have also concluded post-Chernobyl teenagers, foetuses at the time of the accident, performed significantly worse in full-scale IQ tests.

“The distance between Norway and Russia’s St. Petersburg nuclear power plant is approximately a third of the distance to Chernobyl. A serious incident there will clearly affect Norway,” says Nils Bøhmer, nuclear physicist at the Bellona Foundation.

Reactors at the St. Petersburg nuclear plant “are identical with Chernobyl’s. They contain considerable amounts of graphite, something which contributed to turning the Chernobyl accident into a catastrophe,” he continues.

Radioactive fallout was lifted high into the air by the fire from burning granite, helping to spread it over considerable distances.

End-of-life

The four-reactor Kola nuclear power station, situated 200 kilometres from the Norwegian border, also poses a threat. The plant’s service life has been extended several times, and its reactors are at least 30 years old. Moreover, in keeping with those at St. Petersburg, they do not have an inner containment vessel, according to Mr Bøhmer.

“They are consequently more vulnerable in critical situations, and [their location] gives Norwegian authorities a response-time of just two hours.

Andrej Tsolotkov, who works for Bellona’s office in Murmansk, tells Norwegian newspaper Nordlys he sees all atomic activity at Kola as being a potential disaster.

“The third reactor’s lifetime expired this month. The management are now planning to increase production at the fourth, the lifetime of which will expire next year.”

In December 1991, Kola’s reactor fuel rod cooling system failed. Mr Tsolotkov likens what could have happened to the current situation in Japan.

“It was the same possibly catastrophic process. They didn’t have diesel-driven generators [at Kola], and the crisis started developing after the wind knocked out the power,” he says.

Volatile fuel

Another potential catastrophe-waiting-to-happen is at the onshore nuclear waste storage facility in Murmansk’s Andreyeva Bay, 45 kilometres from the Norwegian border. Its stockpile of spent nuclear fuel totals 90 tons, equivalent to waste from approximately 100 submarines.

“Most fuel from the submarines has now been taken out, but Kola’s storage facility is what concerns us most,” Bellona’s Nils Bøhmer tells The Foreigner.

Nearby, there are also regular nuclear fuel exchanges for the Russian icebreakers, some of which could have caused a serious incident. Andrej Tsolotkov alleges, “I know of several instances where waves from passing ships contributed to fuel rod changes going very wrong.”

“Even so, this hasn’t led to any major catastrophes, so far,” he says.




Published on Thursday, 17th March, 2011 at 11:26 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 17th March 2011 at 22:37.

This post has the following tags: nilsboehmer, bellonafoundation, chernobyl, stpetersburg, kola, andreyevabay, murmansk.





  
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