PR:Today’s Nuclear (In)Security - An Unsolved Problem. Press Release At the Opening of the Nuclear Energy Conference 2016

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=> CZECH version of this press release

Joint press release by Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, Calla and South Bohemian Mothers dated April 5, 2016
http://www.calla.cz/index.php?path=hl_stranka/tiskovky/2016&php=tz160405.php

Today’s Nuclear (In)Security - An Unsolved Problem

Press Release At the Opening of the Nuclear Energy Conference 2016

Thirty years after the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl and five years after the destruction of the reactors in Fukushima, Japan, the safety of nuclear installations is still an open-ended question far from an answer. Countries using nuclear energy are facing problems with maintaining the level of safety of aging reactors and their replacement with new ones is virtually impossible due to the high costs.

The largest operator of nuclear reactors, a French company EDF, will have to invest between one and four billion euros per one unit in order to extend their safe operation [1]. In relation to this, the State Office for Nuclear Safety’s decision to issue the unlimited license for further operation for the first unit of the Dukovany nuclear power plant in March 2016 is even more disturbing. The license was issued after a projected lifetime of thirty years of its operation was about to expire. In addition, it showed that Dukovany nuclear power plant can not cope with maintaining the necessary level of nuclear safety and two reactors had to be shut down for several months, on grounds of fraudulent inspections of welds, from which the dozens had to be repaired.

On the agenda of the international conference NEC2016 “Nuclear Energy - Expensive Gamble”, which is organized by the environmental NGOs South Bohemian Mothers, Calla and Friends of the Earth Czech Republic in Prague today, there are discussed the current security issues primarily from a European perspective in the presence of leading foreign and Czech experts. Besides the impact of the Chernobyl disaster in European countries, other key topics of the conference will be specific safety problems with currently operated and built reactors as well.

Effects of contamination on human health caused by the Chernobyl disaster will persist until late into the twenty-first century. According to the study which will be personally presented by its author – the British radiobiologist Ian Fairlie - the number of fatal cases of cancer caused by nuclear accident will reach forty thousand in total. Based on the same study, the number of diseases caused by a genetic disorder in people born after the Chernobyl disaster significantly increased [2].

Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, the European Commission initiated stress tests to evaluate the safety of European nuclear power plants. The expert on nuclear safety, Oda Becker, has processed (and will present at the conference) a critical assessment of national action plans which were published by nuclear states in response to various stress tests. These tests, however, were not designed to fulfil the role of a comprehensive risk assessment. According to Oda Becker, safety measures that have been taken do not correspond to the assessed risks in many cases. For example only a limited range of risks was assessed at the Temelin nuclear power plant, for instance, the scenario in which the wide-bodied aircraft crashes into a nuclear reactor was omitted [3].

Also, new types of reactors do face difficulties with meeting the safety standards. Controversial plans for a new reactor EPR in Flamanville, France, which reached a six-year delay in the construction schedule and a tripling of the budget, are also facing a security problem. The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has detected defects of the material in the reactor pressure vessel, and this year it has to confirm if they are acceptable for a long term operation. It can not be excluded that the investor will have to replace the reactor pressure vessel [4]. Director of WISE-Paris, Yves Marignac, will summarize recent developments in the case at the conference.

Current requirements for new nuclear reactors means very strict requirements on technology that should not contaminate the vicinity of the plant even during severe accidents. Such a goal can not be achieved by currently running generation of reactors today. However, even the mere strengthening their security means significant costs for operators. Measures by CEZ in Dukovany and Temelin nuclear power plants in order to fulfil the requirements of the stress texts after the Fukushima accident involved an investment of several billion Czech crowns every year.

According to the just published document by the European Commission, the safety maintenance of existing reactors in the EU will cost in total about 1.3 billion Czech crowns by 2050 [5]. From the “hens that laid the golden eggs", how these already paid reactors used be referred to, has become a bottomless pit for investment.

Ian Fairlie, Radiobiologist and independent consultant of the British government, said:
“Even after thirty years, the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of the population indicate that it was one of the worst industrial disasters in history. Millions of people still live in the area where radiation exposure has increased due to the accident. Production of electricity from nuclear energy is ruthless technology in this sense.”

Yves Marignac, Director of the independent agency WISE-Paris, included:
“The history of the project of construction of the EPR reactor in Flamanville can not be reduced only to the list of surging costs and postponed deadlines. The project should be in the centre of our attention especially from the perspective of prevention of serious accidents. The lids of the reactor pressure vessel are undoubtedly key components for safe operation. If the nuclear regulatory body sees a serious problem in material defects, we need the guarantee that there is a remedy.”

Karel Polanecký, Energy expert of the Friends of the Earth Czech Republic, added:
“The anniversary of nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that we always have to expect some risk in relation to nuclear energy. Operator error, extreme environmental conditions or material faults may occur elsewhere than just in Ukraine or Japan. The only way to completely eliminate the risk is not to build any nuclear power plants.”

Contacts


Comments:

  1. M. Schneider, A. Froggatt: The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015, Paris, London July 2015, p. 39
  2. Studie je k dispozici ke stažení na adrese: https://www.global2000.at/sites/global/files/TORCH%20-%20The%20other%20Report%20of%20Chernobyl.pdf
  3. Oda Becker, Patricia Lorenz: Critical Review of the National Action Plans of the EU Stress Tests on Nuclear Power Plants, http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/Global/eu-unit/reports-briefings/2015/20150629%20FINAL%20-%20Critical%20Review%20NAPs.pdf
  4. Regulator says Areva nuclear reactor problems could be costly, Reuters, 17.4. 2015, http://uk.reuters.com/article/areva-nuclear-idUKL5N0XE11320150417
  5. Nuclear Illustrative Programme, Evropská komise, 4. 4. 2016, http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-177-EN-F1-1.PDF
  6. For protection against automatical email address robots searching for addresses to send spam to them this email address has been made unreadable for them. To get a correct mail address you have to displace "AT" by the @-symbol and "DOT" by the dot-character (".").
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