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Ukraine Not Worried about Nuclear Accident and Blackouts

December 4th 2014

Ukraine's new energy minister says an accident at a nuclear power plant in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhya last week did not involve a nuclear reactor and caused no radiation leakage.

Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn told reporters in Kyiv on December 3 that the accident on November 28 occurred in the energy transfer system of the plant's No. 3 power-generating unit, not a reactor.

"There is no radiation leakage," he said, and nobody was hurt.

Demchyshyn's statement followed reports that Ukraine had introduced rolling blackouts across the country -- including in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March -- due to shortages in the power grid.

Media reports said the shortages were caused in part by the shutdown of the 1,000-megawatt power generating unit at the Zaporizhzhya plant. Demchyshyn says it is expected to resume operations by December 5. 

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk had verified on December 3 that and an accident had indeed occurred at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in south-east Ukraine and called on the Demchyshyn to hold a news conference.

"I know that an accident has occurred at the Zaporizhye NPP," Yatseniuk said. He asked Demchyshyn to clarify when the problem would be resolved and what steps would be taken to restore normal power supply across Ukraine.

It was during the Soviet era in 1986 that Ukraine saw the famed Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. While under the  direct jurisdiction of the central authorities of the Soviet Union, an explosion and fire released large amounts of radioactive material into the environment, which prevailing winds carried over much of Europe and western USSR. It was the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history, both in terms of human and material costs. The only other such accident in history that is also classified as a level 7 event (the maximum classification) on the International Nuclear Event Scale was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011). At Chernobyl, at least 31 people died while the longterm effects of radiation exposure among the residents nearby is still an ongoing concern. The plant has since been retired and its reactor encased in concrete. The cost of the disaster is estimated to have exceeded $18 billion.

Cutting Edge Contributor Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com


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