Ukrainian nuclear waste stored in open air 200km from warzone
Serious concerns have been raised by experts and environmentalists over the ‘shocking’ way spent nuclear fuel is being stored at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, just 200km away from the front line in Donbass.
More than 3,000 spent nuclear fuel rods are being stored in the open air in mental casks close to the perimeter fence at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in conditions that have shocked environmentalists, The Guardian reports.
Nuclear experts say the waste should have another secondary containment structure, such as a building with a roof.
“With a war around the corner, it is shocking that the spent fuel rod containers are standing under the open sky, with just a metal gate and some security guards waltzing up and down for protection. It is unheard of when, in Germany, interim storage operators have been ordered by the court to terror-proof their casks with roofs and reinforced walls,” Patricia Lorenz, a Friends of the Earth nuclear spokeswoman who visited the plant on a fact-finding mission, told the paper.
Although the front line is for now too far away from the nuclear plant to be at any risk, the potential consequences of the conflict engulfing the power station is major worry to locals.
The memory of the Chernobyl explosion in the north of Ukraine 30 years ago, which poisoned vast tracts of land, is still fresh in many people’s minds.
“Given the current state of warfare, I cannot say what could be done to completely protect installations from attack, except to build them on Mars,” said Sergiy Bozhko , the chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU).
The current Zaporizhia nuclear fuel storage unit was built to a US design and did involve testing to withstand a terrorist attack.
However a dry storage container with a bomb resilient roof and contained ventilation system would offer much greater protection.