CHERNOBYL NOVOSTI

quarterly reports about Chernobyl issues from the colleagues in Ukraine/Belarus/Russia


30* December 10, 2001, ENERGOATOM Refused Funding from EBRD to Complete K2/R4 Reactors by Volodya Tykhy

29* October 23, 2001, CHERNOBYL Conference in Loccum by Alla Yaroshinskaya

28* September 3, 2001, "Dry Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in Ukraine" by Volodya Tykhy

27* July 19, 2001, "European Parliament on Chernobyl" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

26* March 15, 2001, "15TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT" by Volodya Tykhy

<25* April 11,2001, "Open Letter to Parlament Member about Radioactive Waste Laws" by Yaroshinskaya et.al. (only in Japanese)>

24* March 15,, 2001, "Ukrainian Ministry Informs Public, but Problems Are More Severe" by Volodya Tykhy

23* January 18, 2001, "CHERNOBYL NPP CLOSED BUT PROBLES REMAIN" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

24* March 15,, 2001, "Ukrainian Ministry Informs Public, but Problems Are More Severe" by Volodya Tykhy

23* January 18, 2001, "CHERNOBYL NPP CLOSED BUT PROBLES REMAIN" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

22* December 26, 2000,"Two Nuclear Reactors to be Built in Ukraine" by Volodya Tykhy

21* November 5, 2000, "CHERNOBYL'S LIQUIDATORS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

20* July 7, 2000, "WILL CHERNOBYL CLOSE 14 YEARS AFTER THE EXPLOSION?". by Alla Yaroshinskaya

19* May 3, 2000, "Recent Issues about Chernobyl in Ukraine" by Volodya Tykhy

18* April 4, 2000, "Schools and Hospitals for Chernobyl Victims Were Not Built". by Alla Yaroshinskaya

17* January 1, 2000: "Chernobyl "Footprint" in the Urals", by Alla Yaroshinskaya

16* October 1, 1999, "Medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident in Belarus", by Mikhail Malko

15* September 29, 1999, "Moscow's Pupils Begin to Study Consequences of Chernobyl", by Alla Yaroshinskaya

14* June 11, 1999, "UKRAINIAN NGOS VOTE AGAINST DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR ENERGY SECTOR IN UKRAINE" by Volodya Tykhy

13* May 27, 1999, "MAFIA USES CHERNOBYL'S LAW FOR OWN INTERESTS" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

12* April 1, 1999, "Chernobyl Hostages"by Alla Yaroshinskaya

11* March 31, 1999, "TEN YEARS MORATORIUM ON CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS" by Mikhail Malko

10* March 1, 1999, "Ukrainian and Eastern-European NGOs Protest against Completion of Two Ukrainian Nuclear Reactors" by Volodya Tykhy

9* January 28, 1999, "MONEY FOR THE SUFFERERS OF CHERNOBYL IS DEPLETED" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

8* November 20, 1998, "Chernobyl is Still on European Nuclear Policy Agenda" by Volodya Tykhy

7* October 28, 1998, "Environment and Human Rights" by Mikhail Malko

6* October 6, 1998, "Big Problems of Little "Chernobyl" Cities" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

5* July 24, 1998, "NEW AND COMPREHENSIVE REPORT DESCRIBES THE STATUS OF CHERNOBYL-4 RUINS" by Volodya Tykhy

4* July 1, 1998, "CHERNOBYL'S LIQUIDATORS CAN LOSE STATE ASSITANCE IN RUSSIA" by Alla Yaroshinskaya

3* May 12, 1998, "THYROID CANCER IN BELARUS" by Mikhail Malko

2* April 22, 1998, "MONEY SCANDAL ADDS DANGERS TO CHERNOBYL" by Volodya Tykhy

1* April 13, 1998, "New Attempts to Make Amendments to Chernobyl Legislation in Russia" by Alla Yaroshinskaya
 
 




 
from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
December 10, 2001


ENERGOATOM Refused Funding from EBRD to Complete K2/R4 Reactors




 °…Every second kilowatt-hour of electricity in Ukraine is generated by nuclear power plants°…, says the President of Ukrainian Energy-Generating Company °∆Energoatom°«, Yuriy Nedashkovsky. The company reports significant success in its operations. And the main one, beyond doubt, is the decision by the Government of Ukraine that from now on °∆Energoatom°« company is an operator of all fourUkrainian NPPs (Zaporizka; 6 reactors, Pivdenno-Ukrainska; 4 reactors, Rivnenska; 3 reactors, Khmelnytska; 1 reactor), fully responsible for their management, safety and economic results.

 With the assistance from IAEA and other donors, full-scale training centers have been put into operation at all Ukrainian NPPs, as well as systems of safety control.

Ukrainian NPPs are now financially well doing, and °∆Energoatom°« started several investment projects. Among these project the most important are:

(i) dry storage for used fuel at Zaporizka NPP;

(ii) completion of Tashlyk hydro-accumulating power plant on Dnieper river (900 MW at full capacity, first two units 300 MW to be ready in two years);

(iii) completion of reactors #2 at Khmelnytsky NPP by 2003 and #4 at Rivne NPP by 2005.

 Discussion about completion of reactors #2 at Khmelnytska NPP and #4 at Rivnenska NPPs (K2/R4 Project) has a long history. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was supposed to partly fund this project (last commitment by EBRD was US$172 million loan for safety measures). There was a strong opposition against the K2/R4 Project in Ukraine and Europe. Public hearings that have been organized by Ukrainian NGOs and the international NGO CEE BankWatch show that more than 80 % of Ukrainian population oppose plans for completion of two reactors.

 Recently, the situation around K2/R4 has changed significantly. Peter Hlobil from CEE BankWatch reports that on 29 November, 2001, at the meeting of the Board of Directors of EBRD, representative of Ukraine Yuri Poluneev informed EBRD that Ukraine does not need any financial assistance from EBRD for K2/R4 Project. Of course this does not mean that Ukraine will not continue building two reactors, but it probably means that other sources of financing are more attractive. Ukrainian NGOs think that the absence of EBRD funding will allow the °∆Energoatom°« company to use much simpler procedures of environmental impact assessment and public consultations that would have been needed in case of international funding of the project.

 According to Mr. Nedashkovsky, Ukraine will need to build new NPPs to substitute those that will be decommissioned after 2010. For this, °∆Energoatom°« already received offers from USA, France, Canada, Russia and other countries.



 
 
from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
October 23, 2001
CHERNOBYL Conference in Loccum






At the end of September, 2001 an International Conference "15th Years After Chernobyl" hold in Loccum Evangelische Academy, Germany.

The ecological situation in contaminated area and people health living in polluted zones in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia became the main content of it during four days. The most interesting and impressed reports were made by scientists from Belarus.

Dr. Alexander Milyutin, the President of International Sakharov Environmental University (Minsk) made a report about present and future ecological situation of the republic Belarus contaminated zones after Chernobyl.  He undersigned the levels of radioactive contamination by short-living iodine radionuclides in considerable number of regions were so high that irradiation of millions of people was qualified by the specialists as a period of "iodine attack". But experimental material on measurements of iodine-131 activity in depositions is quite limited that does not allow to build a detailed map of iodine-131 radioactive contamination on the whole contaminated territory resulted by the Chernobyl Fall-out.  In Belarus the most highest levels of radiation were observed in the closest zone to Chernobyl Atomic Power Plant, in Bragin, Khiniki, Narovlya district of Gomel region were its content in soils was 37 000 kBq/m2 and more.  In  Chechersk, Kormyansk, Duda-Koshelevsk, Dobrusg districts contamination levels reached 18 500 kBq/m2. In Vetka district  (north of Gomel region) the content of iodine-131 in soil reached 20 000 kBq/m2.

Cesium-137 contamination of Belarus territory is characterized as uneven and spotty. So, Kobylan village of Bragin district, Gomel region the level of Cesium-137 soil contamination varies from 170 kBq/m2 to 2400 kBq/m2. Maximal levels of Cesium-137 soil contamination in the close zone to Chernobyl plant reached 59 200 kBq/m2 and in the far zone at the distance of 250 km from the plant - in village Chudyany, Cherikovski district, Mogilev region (local spot) - 59 000 kBq/m2.  In Brest, Minsk and Grodno regions the levels of contamination by Cesium-137 are from 37  kBq/m2 to 185. Such a situation is now. But what process will be going on in the future on these territories?

Belarus scientists created own method to build forecast maps of the territories contaminated by Cesium-137 for the period of 2016 to 2046. Analysis of changes in Cesium-137 contaminated areas shows that if in 1986 only 23.7 % of the Belarus territory were contaminated more than 37 kBq/m2 (1Ci/km2), in 2016 this value will be 16%, that is 1.5 times as low and in 2046 - 10%, that is 2.4 times as low. At this rate the area of contamination of 555 kBq/m2 (15Ci/km2) and more will decrease fast: during 60 years 10 times as large, the areas of contamination from 185 kBq/m2 (5Ci/km2) to 555 kBq/m2 (15Ci/km2) during this period will decrease 4 times and 37 kBq/m2 to 185 kBq/m2 zone will decrease only 1.8 times.



 
 
from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
September 3, 2001
Dry Storage of Spent-Nuclear Fuel in Ukraine

On the 24th of August Ukraine celebrated 10th anniversary of its independence. Right before this date, on 18th August, the first dry storage for used nuclear fuel was put into experimental operation at Zaporizha NPP. Event is of extreme importance for Ukraine, because up till now Ukrainian nulear energy industry, one of the biggest in Europe, did not have the place to store used fuel of its 14 VVER-type reactors (the last Chernobyl-type RBMK reactor was shut down in December, 2000). Zaporizha NPP with 6 reactors is the biggest in Europe.

Three concrete containers will be tested one year before the final decision will be made to build 300 more. During the year, three containers will save $9.8 million for Zaporizha NPP (money that has been usually paid to Russia for receiving used fuel back). Containers were designed and produced with participation of the American company DE&S that operates similar facilities in the US.

The issue of the storage raised very significant controversy. Citizen°«s groups and local authorities of the city of Nikopol (the storage is located some 10 km from the city), as well as the Green Party of Ukraine strongly protested against the storage. They claim that the nuclear industry is destroying their ancient land forever and that authorities do not listen to the people voices. "Green" organizations mailed thousands of letters to the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers requesting that the government organized storing of used nuclear fuel in the abandoned zone around Chernobyl NPP.

Meanwhile, the nuclear industry and the government say they have been under the severe political and economic pressure from Russia before putting this storage into operation. Russia has been receiving Ukrainian used fuel up till now. Without Russian facilities Ukraine would have to close down its NPPs thus creating a 30 % electricity shortage.

Another sad event also urges for comparing Ukrainian nuclear power plants and coal-heated power plants. On the 19th of August, methane gas explosion and subsequent fire at Zasiadko coalmine in Donetsk oblast killed more than 40 miners. Unfortunately, such disasters happen in Ukrainian coalmines almost every year, with an average of 4.5 deaths for 1 million ton of coal. Champions of nuclear energy say that, considering the cost (including miners°« lives) of coal mining, nuclear energy is much safer and is more environmentally friendly than coal-fueled electricity generation. Ukraine has severe social and environmental problems with both maintaining production and decommissioning of its coalmines.
 
 


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
July 19, 2001
European Parliament on Chernobyl

May 2, 2001 European Parliament adopted Resolution on nuclear safety 15 years after the Chernobyl accident. The Resolution noticed that the accident in unit four of the Chernobyl nuclear power station on April 26,1986 ?caused the immediate deaths of workers, heavily contaminated the whole region in today°«s Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and spread nuclear isotopes throughout Europe.? There were noticed that ?although one of the most radioactive areas in the world, this region is still inhabited, and that cancers, particularly thyroid cancer, leukaemias and other serious and often fatal illnesses are still occurring there 15 years after the accident.? European deputies emphasizes that accepted model of radiation was unable to predict the emergence of the illnesses now arising as a result of radiation.  They recalled that the G7 and EU have agreed to a loan for reform of the Ukraine°«s power sector, stabilization of the Chernobyl sarcophagus and completion of the half-built nuclear reactors Khmelnitsky-2 and Rovno-4, as part of package of energy options for replacing power from Chernobyl.

The resolution supports all efforts to research the long-term health and environmental impact of the Chernobyl disaster, projects to study, assess and mitigate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. Deputies also call to give financial help to Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to be made available to these countries to fight with enormous social and health problems of the Chernobyl catastrophe, indicating that mortality in the regions will depend very much on the quality and intensity of the treatment.

But the main importance of this document is that it indicate appreciation, given that the health aspect of Chernobyl is now the crucial question, the fact that WHO is holding its own conference in June, and that IT IS NOT PARTICIPATING WITH THE IAEA (emphasized by me - A.Ya.) in the Chernobyl 15th Anniversary Conference.  The resolution emphasize that ?based on new scientific evidence suggesting doubts aspect of the radiation risk model, particularly as concerns the effects of the Chernobyl fall-out, requests the Commission to arrange an epidemiological study of the effects of Chernobyl through wider Europe as a whole; also calls on the IAEA and UNSCEAR, as well as ICRP and Euratom, to re-examine the risk model.?



 
 
 
 
from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
Ma£ý 10, 2001

 

15TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHERNOBYL ACCIDENT

In Ukraine, commemoration of the event was very moderate. It is clear that the topic is not "hot news" anymore. Opposition politicians did not use the anniversary to earn political capital. Scientists did not use the anniversary to threaten citizens and solicit more money for research.

Main events were memorial church services attended by the President Leonid Kuchma (in Kyiv and Chernobyl). He referred to Chernobyl as "a universal tragedy and sorrow".

Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine held an international conference that was a rather strange mixture of ministerial meeting (with official reports by the governments of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus)) and scientific conference. Of course social and health protection issues (and this means money and the ways of distributing it) dominated many sessions of the conference.

Very hard issue for Ukraine was decommissioning of Chernobyl NPP, where the last, 3rd reactor was shut down in December, 2000. The problem is very grave not only because of inevitable and unemployment for the personnel (and Soviet-type nuclear power plants employ 2-3 time more people than similar western plants), but also merely technical issues: unit # 3 supplied electricity and heat for the "sarcophagus" (remains of reactor # 4) and reactors #1 and #2, shut down several years ago.

An issue of closing out Chernobyl NPP was very important because Ukraine yielded an obvious pressure from the West and closed down Chernobyl while 11 reactors of the same type (some older than Chernobyl one) are still in operation in Russia (four in St.Petersburg, three in Smolensk and four in Kursk). If Chernobyl reactor was shut down due to unsafety, why others are still in use? By the way, seven of them are located in a Dnieper river basin, which provides drinking water for 1/2 of Ukrainian population...

A well-known leader of Russian greens, Prof. A.Yablokov reminded that the total number of Chernobyl sufferers over the years may reach 500 mln. This number includes those evacuated from around Chernobyl as well as offsprings of the so-called "liquidators" - those who worked at the area and around Chernobyl during several years of clean-up efforts.

It is also symptomatic that almost no information about Chernobyl could be found on Ukrainian "green" web sites. Only the Green Party of Ukraine commemorated the anniversary by clean-up of an old chemical wastes site in South Ukraine. Possibly they used an opportunity to remind the public about themselves...


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
March 15, 2001


Ukrainian Ministry Informs Public, but Problems Are More Severe

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine has opened its new web-site at www.menr.gov.ua. The site is in Ukrainian only, but visitors can find some important information there. For example, they can find information on all five nuclear power plants: what reactors are in operation, under repairing or in the state of decommissioning.

But, of course, not all problems are described on this web-site. In December, 2000, before the final close-down of Chernobyl NPP that took place on December 15, 2000, Ukrainian Parliament held a hearing on the problems that would follow decommissioning of the power plant. Figurers revealed at the hearing really impress.

The debris of the reactor # 4 under the "Shelter" (sarcophagus) need permanent attention. To maintain and strengthen the existing construction and to convert it into environmentally safe system will require $758 million during next 8 years. And this will be just an interim solution without removal of radioactive fuel from sarcophagus. Permanent personal employed at the site will be between 800-900, plus 1200 more people will be used annually for additional construction works. Special international fund was establish to accumulate required financial resources. Ukraine contributed $50 million to this fund.

Estimated minimal cost of decommissioning of 3 remaining reactors is EURO793 million, and the cost of social programme for the city of Slavutich (where personnel of Chernobyl NPP and their families live) is UAH1.8 billion ($330 milllion).

Decommissioning will require infrastructure development at the NPP site. New facilities (we list only some of them) will be built with the financial and technical support from western donors:
dry storage for waste fuel will cost EURO66.1 million (funding managed by EBRD);
facility for processing solid radioactive wastes EURO40.8 million(TACIS);
facility for processing liquid radioactive wastes EURO19.7 m (EBRD), including Ukraine's share $11 million.

Serious dismissals will impoverish the city of Slavutich. Currently Chernobyl NPP employs 5,791 people. This number will be reduced to 4200 in 2001, and by the year 2008 to 1885. It is anticipated that by that time the rate of unemployment in the city will soar to more than 50 % from present day 5 %.



 
from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
January 18, 2001
CHERNOBYL NPP CLOSED BUT PROBLEMS REMAIN

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was finally closed under guaranties of U.S. President Bill Clinton that the U.S. will cover those expenses. But it does not mean that all of Chernobyl's problems are ended. Still, about 8 million people in the countries of the former USSR - Russia, Ukraine and Belarus - live in the contaminated zones, and more than half a million liquidators must fight with authorities to survive.
 

But last time one very special problem appeared more clearly - the problem of the so-called Izhelikvidatorov. Speaking in English, those people who did not actually take part in the liquidation consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe, but they received special certification on that by fraud. The document of the Chernobyl catastrophe's liquidator gave them the number of social privileges beginning with additional payment and ending with free medicine and rest annually in sanatoriums.

There is no statistical data in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus on how many people have false documents on the Chernobyl liquidators, but newspapers write on the case from time to time, pointing out names.
 

And usually, there are top level people from the former communist party obkom (committees) who never were in Chernobyl's hell, only conducting work by other people - workers, drivers, soldiers, etc. - from a safe distance. (One of them, for example, the former Chief of the State Meteorology Committee, Uliy Izrael, received the Order of Lenin).

In 1992 Kiev journalist, Mukola Khrienko, began fighting against a member of Parliament, Editor-in- Chief of the Ukrainian Parliament newspaper, "Golos Ukrainu" (The Voice of Ukraine), Sergiy Pravdenko, and three members of his staff, who received liquidation documents. He investigated and published the article, "False Liquidators", in the newspapers of the Ministry of Chernobyl Affairs, "Chernobyl News."

The "heroes" of Khrienko's article wrote an appeal to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, asking to investigate this article and to open criminal prosecution of the journalist. The investigation showed that the facts of the article "False Liquidators" are true but top level people did not stop their persecution of the brave journalist. They passed their appeals to the court but, in some time, decided to take it back because they understood they could not win.

As you can see, the story on false liquidators still goes on. The famous Ukrainian poet, Valeriy Lazarenko, published a book of poems, "False Liquidators", and dedicated it to false Chernobylers. The Prosecutor General of Ukraine began a new investigation into whether Mr. Provdenko and Mr. Suddya actually took part in the elimination of Chernobyl's catastrophe. Chernobyl NPP was closed, but the problems remain...even problems like this.

Two of them made the decision to refuse their false Chernobyl certificates some times ago. But former Deputy and Editor-in-Chief of the Parliament newspaper "Golos Ukrainy", Provdenko and his deputy, Suddya, re-registered their Chernobyl certificates some time ago; and the former deputy even received a new certificate of Chernobyl invalidly.
 



 
from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
December 26, 2000
Two Nuclear Reactors to be Built in Ukraine
Now when the last Chernobyl reactor has been shut down, a discussion continues about the completion of the two VVER-1000 reactors at Khmelnytsky and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants (K2R4 project) in Western Ukraine. The two reactors were more than half-completed when Ukrainian Government suspended construction of these nuclear power plants in 1991. The ban was lifted several years ago, and G7 countries promised Ukraine funding to finish construction of two reactors and thus compensate for the loss in generating capacity when Chernobyl NPP would have been closed in December 2000.

Recently, a group of Ukrainian NGO representatives met in Kyiv with the Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) mission in Ukraine Mr. Siton and the senior officer of the Bank's energy department Mr. Franks. The meeting was organized on a request of NGOs.

According to EBRD officials, on behalf of the Western countries EBRD will provide $215 million for improving nuclear safety of K2R4 reactors and for strengthening Ukrainian nuclear regulation authorities. This money will be provided when certain conditions are met by Ukrainian side. EBRD officials stressed that they provide funding on the request of Ukrainian government.

According to EBRD, the total cost of completion would be about $1.7 bn (technical design is not finished yet, so the sum is not final). Main costs (about $1.5 bn) will be invested by Ukrainian organizations headed by Ukrainian nuclear energy generating company Energoatom, by Euroatom and by Russian businesses. Russian organizations will be main contractors and suppliers for the project.

Completion of two Ukrainian reactors goes in line with plans of Russia to build 30 new reactors by 2030. Ukraine does not have its own infrastructure to design and produce reactors and reactor equipment, to produce and process nuclear fuel and even to train personnel for its 13 reactors.

In spite of public protests, Russia is putting its new Rostov NPP in operation. It appears that many emergency preparation measures required by Russian legislation are not in place (like evacuation roads in the 30 km radius of NPP, safe water supply for the city etc). Not only the public, but also representatives of local authorities unsuccessfully try to solve the problem.

Apparently Russia's energetic steps toward further development of nuclear industry reflect a no-choice situation in energy generating sector, where coal becomes more and more expensive, and limited gas and oil resources are badly needed as primary export commodities. Ukraine is in even worse situation because it produces only small part of fossil fuel needed to operate its energy-inefficient economy.



 
 
from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
November 5, 2000
CHERNOBYL'S LIQUIDATORS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL

Some months ago 25 liquidators, invalids of the Chernobyl catashtrophe in Tula, pitched their tents near the building of the local authorities and began an indefinite strike. (The Tula region in Russia is also one of the most affected areas due to the Chernobyl explosion in April, 1986). They demanded that the government immediately pay them the money debt owed them for some years. Also they demanded that the Parliament will not adopt the new Chernobyl Law, which reduces their social privileges and dismiss First Vice-Prime Minister, Valentina Matvienko, and the Minister of Labor and Social Defense, Aleksandr Pochinok. That action was supported by other liquidators from different regions  of Russia.

Some days ago 150 liquidators walked to Moscow because no one in the Tula region would listen to them and their statements. They decided to bring their demands directly to Russian President Putin in the Kremlin. Unfortunately, the Moscow police did not allow them to enter Red Square; the police called these tired, unhapppy people, "mutants." Police paid no heed that one of the liquidators fell ill and died.

Then the liquidators went to Alexadrovskiy Garden near the Kremlin Wall and placed their Chernobyl Orders and Medals on the stone of the Monument ot the Unknown Soldier. Probably it was their last defiant statement against the indifference of authorities to their fate. Later, police took all the orders and medals to the police department.

Only after that did the Minister of Labor and Social Defense, Aleksandr Pochinok, meet with the representatives of the liquidators and discuss all the issues of social protection for these heroes of Chernobyl. The Minister promised that the government will cancel its previous decision to begin to pay the government debts beginning in 2003, and initiate the process this next year. "But the invalids of the first and second levels will only be paid to the end of this year", said the Minister. The Russian Parliament also discussed the new Chernobyl Law in the second hearing and passed it back to the Law Committee for detailed improvements.

Thus, Tula's liquidators have won their struggle with the government for now, but if something like Chernobyl will happen in the future in Russia, who will go without hesitation to defend our country and the world?
 


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
July 7, 2000


WILL CHERNOBYL CLOSE 14 YEARS AFTER THE EXPLOSION?









 After the Chernobyl catastrophe in April, 1986, at least three times authorities announced the shut down of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. First, it happened after the first parliamentary hearing on Chernobyl in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1989. Then, after the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the same decision was adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament (Supreme Rada). But no one of these decisions worked.

 Now, after U.S. President Clinton has visited Ukraine and promised $80 million to Ukraine to render the disaster site safe and improve investment in the Ukrainian energy industry, Ukraine has made the third decision to close Chernobyl NPP by the end of 2000. Now, it is opened that decision will be implemented. This is good news.

 But the bad news on the Chernobyl catastrophe released by the United Nations in its report notes that the worst health consequences of the explosion are yet to come. The booklet titled "Chernobyl, A Continuing Catastrophe" issued in late April, 2000 by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, emphasized that seven million people in Ukraine. Belarus and Russia are still suffering the effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe from 14 years ago. Three million among the victims of Chernobyl are children who need immediate treatment. These three countries are the most contaminated and effected and still spent a big part of their minimal budgets to help Chernobyl sufferers.

 According o the UN report, serious medical consequences will develop more because of delayed reactions to radiation exposure not being known until 2016 at the earliest. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that an original list of 60 UN Chernobyl projects had been shortened to the nine most urgent, sharing three in each country - Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. In addition to these projects, there will be modernization of hospitals, creation of a network of children's treatment centers, and cleaning up kindergartens, schools and hospitals.



 
from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
May 3, 2000
Recent Issues concerning Chernobyl in Ukraine

In Ukraine, the 14th anniversary of the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant raised new discussions on the costs of clean-up activities and the health of affected population.

According to the Ministry of Ukraine on Emergency Situations, after 1991 Ukraine spent almost $5 bn to liquidate the consequences of Chernobyl catastrophe plus $3.5 bn on social protection of sufferers ? benefits for "liquidators", compensations for lost health, medicines etc. The burden of Chernobyl expenses is too heavy for the country: UAH 7.5 bn ($1.4 bn) is needed for the year 2000, while only UAH 1.8 bn ($340 m) has been allocated by the state budget. Some benefits for "liquidators" (reduced tariffs for electricity, heat, water supply) have been cancelled starting April, 2000.

As of 1 January, 2000, about 3.5 million Ukrainian citizens are regarded as "sufferers from Chernobyl catastrophe". Still rather bad is the situation with radioactive contamination of locally produced food in some regions of Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Volyn, Rivne and Chernigiv oblasts. The rate of thyroid cancer morbidity is very high, and during the last four years 1400 patients were operated. Most of these patients were children in 1986.

Another hot issue being discussed these days is a closing up of the last operational Chernobyl reactor. The President of Ukraine announced that it will be shut down by the end of 2000, in spite of serious social problems that would appear. According to Chernobyl NPP officials, it can still be operated generating profit of about $100 m/year.

The question of Western assistance to Ukraine for closing up Chernobyl NPP is still not resolved. In December, 1995  G7, EU and Ukraine signed an agreement that the West will help Ukraine with grants and loans for improving Ukrainian energy system, while Ukraine promised to shut down Chernobyl NPP. Later on, a very controversial $1.7 bn project of completing reactors #2 at Khmelnytsky NPP and reactor # 4 at Rivne NPP appeared (K2/R4 project). EBRD was supposed to give a loan for this project, but now it seems impossible due to a strong oppositions to nuclear energy projects in many European countries.

In Ukraine, in a recent public opinion investigation only 17 % of respondents supported completion of K2/R4 as the good solution for Ukrainian energy problems, while 73 % voted for better use of existing non-nuclear energy sources.
 (This publication is based on Ukrainian media materials)


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
April 4, 2000
Schools and Hospitals for Chernobyl Victims Were Not Built

The Russian government has evaluated the Government Program for 1992-2000,"On Protection of the Population of the Russian Federation Who Suffered from the Catastrophe at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant."

 One of the main directions of this program was the social and economic rehabilitation of the contaminated territories. The general content of that direction is construction in the social sphere. The amount allocated for investment in this Program was 152.6 billion rubles, but the results show only 19 percent was actually invested.

 There was construction in 14 districts of the Russian Federation. The largest social construction was in the most contaminated regions - Bryanskaya, Kaluzhskaya, Tulskaya, and Orlovskaya - with 128,974 square meters of dwelling space, and schools for 17,043 children during the last 8 years. 3.96 billion rubles was spent for the construction of Public Clubs.

 The worst situation is with the construction of kindergartens; there were only enough built for 3,465 children. And not one kindergarten was built in 1998/1999. The situation with hospital construction in the contaminated districts was just as bad with only enough built for 862 beds. Not a single hospital was built in the period from 1997 through 1999.

 A major problem for inhabitants of the contaminated areas is the lack of natural gas. Not one ruble was invested in the gas net for the "radioactive" villages in the period from 1992-1996; in 1997-1999, 694,14 million rubles was invested for gas net.

 As we can see, the results of the Governmental construction program for Chernobyl is less than modest. Since the Chernobyl catastrophe, 52,447 people were resettled from the contaminated zones to "clean" sites. A large part of them do not own a house or apartment during that time. Thus far 3,286 families are waiting for governmental dwelling space.

 Taking into consideration investments in construction in the contaminated areas in addition to the Federal budget, 64 projects will not be finished up to the year 2001. The lack of funding is 2 035 billion rubles.


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
January 1, 2000
Chernobyl "Footprint" in the Urals









   Until recent time information was blocked about the radioactive contamination in the Urals after the Chernobyl catastrophe. Much illness of local population occurred and officials connected just with the waste of the Ural's nuclear power plant for reprocessing of plutonium for military purposes. But some time ago doctors of Ekaterinburg noticed that more and more children were having problems with their thyroid glands. Professor of Ural's State Medical Academy, Dr. Mikahil Lemyasev, supported the point of view that the growing illnesses of the children are a result of Chernobyl's snow after the 1986 catastrophe.

   Official information about fallout from Chernobyl's snow clouds still was not disclosed. But Ural scientists, investigating different sources, could re-create a real map of Chernobyl's radioactive "footprint" at that time. This map was shown for the first time last year at the Ural Conference. Scientists estimated that the land was contaminated by up to 2 curies per square kilometer in some places. Seventy percent of those radioactive elements consisted of Iodine-131 and Cesium-137.

   As a result of this kind of secrecy, every third child of Ekaterinburg has their thyroid gland affected. Compared with 1995, this illness has doubled. One more bit of bad news is that, in some cases, the thyroid cancer had already been reported.
   Nevertheless, the local population worries about the health of their children, and Federal authorities do not hurry to disclose secret information about Chernobyl's fallout in the Urals, and local officials can find no money to prevent new "radioactive" illnesses of Siberia's victims of Chernobyl.
 
 
 
 


from Minsk by Mikhail Malko
October 1, 1999
Medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident in Belarus.

It is well known that practically all specialists in the field of the radiation protection recognise only two medical effects resulted from the Chernobyl accident. These are the acute radiation syndrome by some member of the personal of the Chernobyl accident as well as by some fireman that were involved in extinguishing of fire at the Chernobyl NPP. The total number of people in this category that died in first months after the accident reached 28 cases. Many specialists consider these 28 fatal cases practically as real medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident. They also recognise rather high increase in the incidence in thyroid cancer by children. However, the real situation is much more serious. Today there are reliable data that show manifestation of leukemia by liquidators of Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine as well as thyroid cancer by all categories of people affected by the Chernobyl accident. So, according to our assessment in the period of time 1986 - 1998 about 3200 thyroid cancers induced by radiation appeared by adolescents and adults of Belarus.

Leukemia and thyroid cancer are so-called stochastic effects of ionizing radiation known rather well by specialists from studies of survivors of atombomardenment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These studies have shown also that ionizing radiation induces increase in the incidence of different cancers that appear also without irradiation.

The scientific data established in Belarus after the Chernobyl accident made a great contribution to understanding of the process of development of thyroid cancer as a result of impact of ionizing radiation. So, for example, one believes before the Chernobyl accident that the latency of thyroid cancer is about 10 years after irradiation. On the contrary, the date founded in Belarus show that latency of radiation induced thyroid cancer in Belarus was only about 2 years. Such short latency period confused many specialists that could not believe in the reality of such short latency in a case of solid cancer induced by ionizing radiation. And this was the reason that they up to 1995 could not recognise the reliability of data of the Belarusian scientists and specialists. Probably another reason for ignoring of their data was underestimation of the scientific quality of the Belarusian specialists. This is a typical attitude of many western scientists and specialists, Such attitude from the side of the International radiation community is a very significant handicap by solving of problems arisen in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine after the accident at the Chernobyl NPP. A very serious problem for these very pure countries is a very significant increase in the incidence in practically all general somatic diseases at all categories of people affected by the Chernobyl accident.

Table 1 demonstrates this fact. Here are given ratios of the morbidity by affected children (0-14 years) and adolescents (15-18 years) of Belarus in 1997 to the morbidity of children and adolescents of the country. We calculated the data of this table on the basis of data presented in the report of L.Lomat, G.Galburt and V.Kulinkina at the International scientific and practical conference *Human ecology after the Chernobyl accident* held in Minsk on 27-28 September of this year.

As can be seen from this table especially high difference in the morbidity of children and adolescents affected by the Chernobyl accident from one side and children and adolescents of Belarus from the other side are established in cases of diseases of the endocrine system, maldigestion, metabolism disorders, in diseases of the circulatory system. For example, the primary morbidity in diseases of the endocrine system, in maldigestion and in metabolism disorders by the affected children was 6 times higher in 1997 than by children living in clean regions of Belarus.

The data on the primary and general morbidity of children and adolescents affected by the Chernobyl accident presented by L.Lomat, G.Galburt and V.Kulinkina at the conference in Minsk originate from the Belarusian State Chernobyl Register (BSChR). At the end of 1997 the BSChR included 32694 children and 5400 adolescents affected by the Chernobyl accident and had medical data on more than 65000 children and adolescents. According to L.Lomat et al the analysis of health state of the affected children and adolescents shows that their primary and general morbidity in general somatic diseases increased permanently after the Chernobyl accident up to 1993. From 1993 it was registered some weak decrease in the incidence of general somatic disease by this category of children and adolescents.

The significant increase of the morbidity in general somatic diseases among the affected people was established soon after the Chernobyl accident. In the former Soviet Union official representative of the medicine tried to explain the significant increase of the morbidity in general somatic diseases as reflection of so-called radiophobia among the inhabitants of contaminated regions. This was of one part of the Soviet official policy of hiding of real information about the real scale of the Chernobyl accident and its medical consequences. Unfortunately, such policy was supported by the nuclear industry which fighted for its surviving in the light of worsening its commercial competency in comparison with other methods of the electricity generation. And this is another reason that specialists in the field of radiation protection up to present reject to recognise the fact that ionizing radiation induces also increase in the morbidity in general somatic diseases. Maybe was right Rosalie Bertell to say many years ago that specialists in the field of radiation protection see their most important task in justifying of plans of governments of different states by development of nuclear weapon not in the protection of people.

One needs to understand that neglecting of real medical consequences of the Chernobyl accident is a very dangerous practice that can cause very serious consequences in a case of other radiological or nuclear accidents that could happened in each country with developed nuclear industry.

°°

Table 1. °° Relative* primary and general morbidity in 1997 by children ( 0-14 years) and adolescents (15-18) of Belarus affected by the Chernobyl accident.

°°
 
°°
Children
Adolescents
Class of diseases
Primary morbidity
General morbidity
Primary morbidity
General morbidity
Neoplasms
2,44
2,46
2,61
3,01
Diseases of the endocrine system, maldigestion, metabolism disorders
4,31
2,95
1,98
2,24
Diseases of blood and bloodforming system
6,02
3,79
6,41
5,11
Psychic disorders
2,65
1,42
1,31
0,96
Diseases of the nervous system and of the sense organs
1,54
1,45
1,33
1,01
Diseases of the circulatory system
2,89
1,97
1,87
1,42
Diseases of digestive organs
2,56
2,02
1,94
1,93
Diseases of the urinogenital system
1,67
1,28
1,04
0,99
Diseases of the osteomuscular system and of the connective tissues
1,82
1,71
0,97
0,84

°°

°°* Notice: figures in the Table are ratios of numbers of morbidity cases in 100 000 children (or adolescents) affected by the Chernobyl accident to numbers of cases in 100 000 children (or adolescents ) of Belarus living in territories contaminated by caesium-137 to levels less than 37 kBq/m2.


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
September 29, 1999
Moscow's Pupils Begin to Study Consequences of Chernobyl

There are 18 Moscow's Ecological Schools where pupils receive deep ecological knowledge on different questions beginning from the first class. Usually there prevailed such themes as industrial pollution of water, air, land and so on.

Ecology is studied in universities of Moscow as special course also. During last decade there were appeared some new universities and Academies where are special ecological faculties. The most famous of its are International Political and Ecological University headed by academician Nikita Moiseev, Moscow Academy of Management and Russian Orthodox University. Students of those universities receive comprehensive and deep ecological knowledge in different fields. More and more students interested in ecology and sustainable development are writing their diplomas on environment issue.

During last years ecological studies in Moscow schools activated much more also. Today not only special secondary Ecological Schools study on environment issue, but also ordinary secondary Moscow's schools establish such subject in their programs along literature, mathematics, biology, etc. Very often it is initiative by local teachers which understand how it is important today that pupils know at least some minimum about environment and necessity of its defend.

The most bright example of such kind of ecological education is job of teachers of Moscow school #1128. Last year every graduated pupil received a volume of "Nuclear Encyclopedia" on nuclear ecology issue. This year a teacher of English language Galina Chernova began to teach ecological topics for graduating pupils from the Chernobyl catastrophe. The main book what is used pupils is the book of materials edited by Tetsuji Imanaka and published by Kyoto Research Reactor Institute "Research Activities about the Radiological Consequences of the Chernobyl NPS Accident and Social Activities to Assist the Sufferers by the Accident." In order pupils would be able to understand better a content of complicate scientific articles of Russian, Belarussian, Ukrainian and Japanese scientists Galina Chernova is reviewing and preparing adopted text of this book. Parents of pupils are just greeting such kind of ecological activity and education of their children by Galina Chernova.


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
June 11, 1999
UKRAINIAN NGOS VOTE AGAINST DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR ENERGY SECTOR IN UKRAINE
 The issue of closing up Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the issue of completion of reactors # 2 at Khmelnytska NPP and reactor #4 at Rivne NPP in Ukraine (K2R4 project) will be discussed at G7 meeting on 18 June in Bonn. Money for two reactors must come from European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which is considering granting a big loan to Ukraine.

The issues of Chernobyl and K2R4 are closely related because Ukrainian government says that it needs new generating capacities to substitute Chernobyl unit # 3. This is the only one reactor in operation at Chernobyl NPP and it provides energy and infrastructure needed to maintain the shelter over the ruins of reactor # 4.

During last months more than 80 Ukrainian NGOs led by Environmental Association "Zeleny svit" tried to conduct public hearings on the issue of K2R4 project and - broader - the issue of further development of nuclear energy sector in Ukraine. Not always these attempts were supported by local authorities who have an obligation under Ukrainian law to organize such hearings.

By the end of April hearings took place in 7 communities, with 20 to 80 people participating in each session. Resolutions opposing development of nuclear energy sector have been passed at all meetings. Main points raised at the hearing in Nikopol, a town some 30 km to the West of Zaporisha NPP, were as follows:

- population in the vicinity of NPP must have social, medical and economic guarantees in case of emergency at NPP; the town must have stockpiles of food and medicines for such situations; existing roads must be repaired and new roads constructed to serve for evacuation in case of emergency;
- local authorities must have a vote in licensing NPPs; NPP should not be granted license without creating insurance fund;
- NPP operation company Energoatom should stop building storage for used nuclear fuel at the site of Zaporizha NPP because of potential risk;
- population and industrial facilities around NPP should pay for electricity at discount rate as a compensation for risk;
- further development of nuclear industry in Ukraine is environmentally hazardous and economically inefficient; more efforts must be put into energy saving and alternative energy sources;
- Ukraine should not complete K2R4 reactors and must close up Chernobyl NPP.
Recently a CEE Bankwatch Network which unites environmental organizations of 11 Central and East European countries has commissioned a poll on completion of nuclear reactors in Ukraine. Of 1200 Ukrainians who participated in the poll only 9 % supported K2R4 project, while 24 % voted for gas-steam power plants as an alternative for nuclear reactors.

Using the results of public hearings and opinions expressed by K2R4 poll, CEE Bankwatch Network announced a nation wide campaign asking NGOs to support protest against K2R4 project and thus to influence decisions to be taken in Bonn. This campaign goes in line with some parliamentary initiatives in Germany and United Kingdom which also try to convince EBRD directors not to grant a loan for K2R4 project.
 
 


 

from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
May 27, 1999
MAFIA USES CHERNOBYL'S LAW FOR OWN INTERESTS

In 1992 Russia's Parliament adopted the Chernobyl Law "On Social Protection for Citizens Who Suffered from the Catastrophe at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant". Accordingly, Chernobyl's organizations and sufferers had a number of different privileges, including the right to export from this country different kinds of materials and to import into the country foreign cars, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages WITHOUT custom's taxes.

Criminal elements took advantage of these privileges immediately as evidenced by the 1994 export/import statistics through the Chernobyl organizations:

22% of all exports of non-ferrous metals

40% of foreign cars

35% of imported alcoholic beverages

Most of Chernobyl's organizations that were importing were registered as dummy organizations.

In 1995 the Russian Parliament amended the law and exempted export/import privileges through Chernobyl's organizations; nevertheless, many of the organizations resisted strongly, resulting in large profit losses for the mafia.

But since that time the Chernobyl Law allows the privilege of importing foreign cars without custom's taxes for Chernobyl's victims. There are 250,000 people who use this right in Russia. They are liquidators and evacuees. The incredible statistics of tax releases (cars) are as follows:

1996 = 945

1997 = 7,200

1998 = 8,000

As the Russian Custom's Committee found, Russia lost one trillion rubles (50 million dollars) in 1998 because of that privilege. Of course, it would be good if Chernobyl's sufferers can afford to buy such expensive foreign cars but, unfortunately, 95% of these vehicles are NOT their cars.

Usually, the crime groups "asked" Chernobyl victims to do that for them. If the sufferers refuse to save these taxes for these criminals, these hoodlums would threaten to kill them. To me it looks very odd when 70 to 80-year-old poor women go to customs to release "their" expensive cars, Mercedes or Land Rovers, from these legal taxes.

That is why this situation was discussed by the deputies in the Russian Parliament some weeks ago and they agreed to change the Chernobyl Law to eliminate such privileges for criminal elements so that they will not be able to abuse the intent of the law. The final decision on these changes will be made after the deputies' summer vacation.


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
April 1, 1999
Chernobyl's Hostages

Bryanskaya region is one of the most affected areas of Chernobyl's zones in the Russian Federation. There were tens of thousands of people who were relocated to the clean areas during the first years after Chernobyl. However, since 1995 when Russia's economy began to falter, that process almost stopped. Now we can see many un-built (freebie) new villages and districts for the sufferers of Chernobyl in the contaminated areas. One of such bright example is Novozubkovo, a little city in the Bryanskaya region. Dozens of new buildings for the affected people from contaminated Svyatsk were built there up to a 90 percent level of readiness, but some years ago construction was stopped because of the financial crisis.

One more problem for the settlers is that they have no job in the new places. Such a situation happened with settlers relocating to a new village Moskovskiy, built by the Moscow mayor, Yuriy Luzhkov some years ago. A stock-breeding collective farm was relocated to that village as one family, came in to perfect two level cottages with gas and light. But they could not continue their work on the new place because no one beyond Bryanskaya region wants to buy food from their farm, thinking that meat and milk are contaminated. So, enjoying very good houses, the people have no possibility to find a job and make money.

What could they do in that situation? They made the most simplest decision - to return to the contaminated zones. Why? Because it is at least a week guarantee that they will have Chernobyl's compensations for those remaining. For example, people living in zones of eviction have the right to receive 50 rubles per month (today it is about 2 USD). People working in that zones have rights to receive 300 rubles per month (it is about 12 USD). Taking into account that the average salary in Novozubkovo is 290 rubles per month, it is not difficult to imagine how such little money is important for the people.

But the price that settlers pay for their misery is much bigger. It is their own health! During the 12 years after Chernobyl catastrophe, 1,025 cases of thyroid gland cancers were registered. During the same period before the explosion, there were only 247 cases registered. As doctors from Novozubkovo's hospital noted, they are waiting for these new wave of cancers.


from Minsk by Mikhail Malko
March 31, 1999
TEN YEARS MORATORIUM ON CONSTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS

Recommendation for a 10-year moratorium on construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus has been adopted by a special Governmental commission on use of NPPs for electricity generation at its final meeting on the 29th of December 1998. This Commission has been formed by the Belarusian Government on the 28th of March 1998. The Commission had to study the necessity and possibility of a nuclear power plant construction in Belarus. It comprised 34 members representing different Ministries and other governmental organisations, as well as the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. Independent experts in the field of ecology and energy have also worked in the Commission. 24 members of the Commission voted for the moratorium, 7 members voted against and 3 members abstained from voting.

It should be noted that the problem of use of NPPs for electricity generation in Belarus has quite a long history. The first plans to build nuclear power plants in Belarus emerged in the 60s. Realisation of these plans started in the early 80s when construction of the first nuclear power plant began in a small Belarusian town of Rudensk (about 30 km from Minsk). This plant had to supply Minsk with electricity and hot water. Two nuclear reactors of the soviet design (WWER-1000) each with the electrical capacity of 1000 MW had to be installed in the plant.

However, the construction of the first NPP has been stopped at the end of the 80s because of two reasons. Firstly, the soviet authorities had adopted new regulations for construction of nuclear power plants in the USSR in 1988. These regulations banned construction of nuclear power plants within distances less than 100 km from a city inhabited by more than a million of residents. At that time approximately 1 600 000 people lived in Minsk. Secondly, almost all Belarusian citizens suffered fears and anxiety about use of a nuclear energy for electricity generation as a result of the accident at the Chernobyl NPP.

The fear was so strong, the Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belarus had to adopt a special resolution in November 1989 requiring from communist authorities of all levels to resist any plans of nuclear power plants construction in Belarus! That was an unprecedented resolution for the Soviet Belarus where the power fully belonged to the communist party that never communicated with the population on matters of economic and policy of the country.

The old plans for construction of nuclear power plants in Belarus were reactivated by the Government in the beginning of the 90s due to a hope that NPPs could secure the independence of Belarus in the energy sector. Unfortunately, Belarus has no natural gas or coal resources of its own and only a very small oil resources. Import of these resources would aggravate the very complicated economic situation in the country.

In 1993 the Governmental Programme of the power sector has been elaborated in Belarus. This Programme foresaw construction of nuclear power plants as well. It was discussed at a special meeting of specialists in the National Academy of Sciences on the 30th of March 1994. The Programme proposals on use of nuclear energy for electricity generation were based on arguments stating that nuclear power plants are the most safe, clean and cheep source of electricity. The necessity to decrease generation of carbon dioxide has been stressed as well as the most important antropogene factor influencing the change of the climate.

The opponents of use of NPPs insisted that:

Participants of this meeting also expressed other critical notices on proposals to use nuclear energy in Belarus for electricity generation. The majority of participants recommended development of rational and economical use of energy resources in Belarus, construction of combined gas and steam power plants instead of existing thermal power plants, as well as use of alternative energy sources. Such recommendations was a very strong blow on adherents of nuclear power plants in Belarus.

The next heavy blow was received on the 14th of April 1997 when the Belarusian Parliament carried out a special hearing on the possibility of nuclear power reactors construction for electricity production in Belarus. The Parliament expressed its negative attitude towards realisation of nuclear plans of the Belarusian Government. Despite such attitude of the Parliament the Government tried to enliven its plans of nuclear power plants development in Belarus in 1998 and this was the reason to create a special commission. As it was told above, the special Government Commission proposed a 10-year moratorium.

This story shows that even in Belarus with its present political situation the Government can not realise all of its plans. Naturally, the Government of Belarus will try to use any possibility for construction of nuclear power plants. However, it will meet complications that are quite difficult to solve.

For example, formidable difficulties arise from selection of a site for NPP. The President of Belarus promised in November 1998 that the problem of the nuclear power construction is solved by means of a special referendum in case specialists indicate a necessity of such construction. It is well known that today the majority of the Belarusian citizens rejects plans of nuclear power plants construction in Belarus. So, the Belarusian population can produce an important influence on the nuclear plans of the Belarusian Government in the future.


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
March 1, 1999
UKRAINIAN AND EASTERN-EUROPEAN NGOS PROTEST AGAINST COMPLETION OF TWO UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR REACTORS

In November, 1998 a CEE Bankwatch Network - international network of Eastern European NGOs watching the activities of international financial institutions, and a Kryvyi Rig Branch of National Ecological Centre of Ukraine jointly published a brochure "The most serious arguments against completion of two nuclear reactors at Khmelnytsky and Rivne Nuclear power plants".

Completion of units # 2 at Khmelnytsky NPP and # 4 at Rivne NPP with Soviet designed VVER 1000 reactors (K2/R4 project) was proposed by Ukraine as a compensation for the loss of generating capacities in case Chernobyl NPP has been closed up in a year 2000. Since 1994, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have been considering a loan up to $1.725 billion for K2/R4 project.

In its brochure, CEE Bankwatch Network provides numerous evidences that decision to finish K2/R4 is not good from the point of view of Ukrainian situation in energy sector (Chapter 1), from economic and financial, and political points of view (Chapters 2 and 3).

Moreover, K2/R4 Project has serious problems with reactors safety (Chapter 4). Conducted risk audits indicated more than 100 improvements required for reactors safety, but implementation of many of them is not planned by Ukrainian company "Energoatom". This means that the safety level of reactors will be lower than Western standards, especially with respect to fire safety, integrity of reactor pressure vessel and reactor control equipment. The safety problems of VVER-1000/320 reactor are summarized in the document "IAEA Book of Problems, IAEA-EEB-VVER-05", March 1996.

There were two other similar situations with unfinished soviet-design reactors. After risk assessment studies Germany refused to complete Stendal VVER-1000 reactor and it was dismantled. Czechia faces serious financial problems trying to finish construction of Temelin VVER-1000 reactor with necessary safety improvements, implemented jointly by Czech Energy Agency and Westinghouse.

Even if Ukrainian authorities agree to implement considerable safety measures, improved reactors will be hybrid for which a new risk assessment will be required. In any case, K2/R4 reactors will be put in operation much later than 2002 and will not substitute Chernobyl reactor.


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
January 28, 1999
MONEY FOR THE SUFFERERS OF CHERNOBYL IS DEPLETED

Some days ago I received a letter from the editor-in-chief of the regional newspaper, "Ivanovskaya Gazeta", from the city of Ivonovo that is situated about 200 kilometers from Moscow. He is also a member of the regional council of the non-governmental organization, "Union of Chernobyl."

He wrote to me about the terrible situation with the governmental social assistance for liquidators now living in the Ivanovskaya region and asked me to help them publish a short interview in the central mass media by the president of Union of Chernobyl, Evgeniy Kamennui.

I asked him whether he seriously thinks that this interview will actually help to push the authorities to return governmental debts and all lquidators' privileges guaranteed by the "freeze" state law of the Russian Federation, "On Social Protection for Citizens Who Suffered fom the Catastrophe at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant." In such a case it would be very easy to make the decision not only for the Ivanonvskaya region, but also all 16 regions of Russia as well. He answered that it could be the last little drop in a big human protest against the violence of Chernobyl's State Law.

So Kamennui relates that domestic liquidators are not receiving free trips and treatment in the sanitoria going all the way back to September of last year. Governmental debt to them is about 5 million rubles (last year this was $500,000, now it is $250,000). A similar situation is with money for medicine: some special drugstores providing free medicine to them have stopped.

But the worst is that the Regional Department of Social Compensation refused to pay for that time when liquidators are ill and cannot work. For almost half a year they did not have compensation money for the status of the liquidators.

Since September of last year, the Russian government cut off privileges for part of the liquidators and population living in the contaminated zones so that the situation has become much worse regardless of the State Law. The trouble is that since that time the Russian Federation has enacted a new 1999 sales tax law resulting in trips and treatments to the sanitorium will cost 5% more.

Question is, who will pay the additional 5%? Federal authorities have refused to do that. For the poor liquidators (invalids, as usual), this is also impossible.

The Union of Chernobyl has passed an appeal to the Regional Prosecutor on all those actions of authorities that violate their rights and the law.

The editor-in-chief of the all-Russian newspaper "Trud" (The Labor), with a circulation of 1,000,000 copies, promised me that he would publish the interview by the President of Chernobyl Union in the near future.

The Newspaper in Russia was that last hope, as always!


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
November 20, 1998
Chernobyl is Still on European Nuclear Policy Agenda

In a memorandum signed in 1995 the G-7 pledged to help Ukraine compensate for loss of generating capacity if Chernobyl shuts down in 2000. At present, the only one working reactor # 3 of Chernobyl NPP generates about 3% of Ukrainian electricity. Reactor # 1 is being decommissioned and the core of reactor #2 had been dismantled after the fire in 1991.

Ukraine insists that the only way to compensate lost capacities is to complete construction of unit 2 at Khmelnytsky NPP and unit 4 at Rivne NPP (K2/R4 project). The G-7 asked European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to help Ukraine in financing this project. To complete K2/R4 EBRD considers loaning $190 million to Ukrainian operator of nuclear power plants Energoatom. Apparently more investments from international and other companies will follow if EBRD approves the loan.

In accordance with EBRD procedures public hearings on environmental impacts of K2/R4 project have been held in three Ukrainian cities. While Ukrainian environmentalists questioned economic efficiency of the project and protested against K2/R4 project "in general", Austrian groups said that studies in Austria had shown that possible accident at completed reactors could affect Central European countries. Other NGO participants complaint that the worst-case scenario used for Environmental Impact Assessment studies is outdated.

It might happen that if EBRD refuses to loan the above-mentioned $190 million Ukraine will try to complete reactors more cheaply according to the original design and with financial and technological assistance from Russia. In this case the issue of Chernobyl close up could be reconsidered by Ukrainian government. At the conference in Vienna 25-27 September a coalition of environmental NGOs decided to hold an action to protest against the plan of completion K2/R4 reactors. This action named "No to new Chernobyls!" will take place 14 December 1998 in many European countries. The action is coordinated by the group A SEED Europe.

But clearly the issue in question is not only two Ukrainian reactors and Chernobyl close-up. It is the future development of nuclear generating facilities in Europe which will be questioned.


from Minsk by Mikhail Malko
October 28, 1998
Environment and Human Rights

The international conference under such title was held on 19-20 October 1998 in Minsk. It was organised by the Belorussian Socio-Ecological Union 'Chernobyl', non-governmental ecological organisation. It was supported by the United Nations Representative Office in Belarus, by the Ministry of Natural Resourses and Environment Protection of Belarus as well as by the International Ecological Academy (Minsk Branch) and the Association of Professional Ecologists.

Representatives of the Belorussian Parliament, authorities of different Belorussian ministries, lawyers specialised in ecological field as well as scientists, representatives of different NGOs and of the Green Party of Belarus participated at the conference. Besides of the Belorussian participants different specialists from the FRG, Russia, the Ukraine, the USA and Sweden took also part in the conference.

The following topics were discussed at the conference:

- the main ecological problems of Belarus,

- environmental legislation in Belarus and its realisation.

According to reports of the Belorussian specialists there is a lot of complicated ecological problems in Belarus. The Chernobyl accident only increased the catastrophic character of the environmental situation of the country. To the most serious ecological problems belongs a very high pollution of ground water with nitrate, pesticides and salts of heavy metals. Practically in all rural regions people have to drink water polluted to levels that are higher than acceptable levels. Another important problem is pollution of air in cities with developed industry. In many Belorussian cities the pollution of air is much higher than acceptable levels.

The very significant problems have emerged with manage of solid and liquid wastes of industry and with municipal solid and liquid wastes.

Specialists told that there are clear correlations between the stage of the environment pollution and the morbidity rate of population. For example, there is permanent increase in oncological diseases simultaneously with decreasing of the average life expectancy of the Belorussian population. The same permanent increase is registered by the Belorussian specialists in hereditary malformations. In very polluted cities of Belarus the incidence in general somatic diseases is much higher than in average for country. All such effects show the negative influence of antropogene impacts on the environment.

The 1996 Constitution of the Republic Belarus declares a right to a favourable living environment (Article 46 of the Constitution). According to the paragraph 34 of the Constitution all citizens of Belarus have rights on access to the environment information . They also may participate by development of republican laws and other legislative acts of the state and local rank (Article 37 of the Constitution ). However, practical realisation of these rights is regulated by a number of different laws and legislative acts .Therefore, the practical effectiveness of the constitutional rights is very limited. The Belorussian participants of the conference 'Environment and Human rights' demonstrated this characteristic peculiarity of the Belorussian legislation and the practice of its implementation.

One participant of the conference told about fighting of inhabitants of one rural settlement in Brest region against plans of local authorities to use the small forest close to the village as a site for the disposal of municipal wastes of the local centre of the rayon to which belongs the village. The inhabitants of the village recognised about this plan only by beginning of the project realisation. They were all against this plan because they understood that disposal of wastes will contaminate in the future the ground water that is there about a half of meter from the surface. The danger of such pollution arises from the fact that the soil in the site of foreseen wastes disposal consists mostly sand. Designer of the project decided to isolate the wastes from ground water with help of film that is usually used by construction of green houses.

With great difficulty and on an unofficial way the inhabitants of the village could get a copy of the hydrological expertise that clearly stated that the place for the wastes disposal does not correspond to ecological requirements. The inhabitants of this village appealed republican authorities but without any success because the later supported the plan of local authorities.

Another characteristic cases had place in Mogilev. Here a group of green activist triad with help of a district court to stop the work of a chemical factory that polluted the neighbouring territory so strong that normal living in this territory was practically impossible. The activists at first had very significant difficulties because the court refused to begin the process against the factory that belongs to state. The Mogilever activists spent more than a year in fighting against the factory and the court. They also had to spend a lot of money because the court required these money for carrying out of different expertise.

Finally the green activists lost their process because the republican authorities which are responsible for protection of the environment changed the acceptable release of toxic substances for this factory to a level which is equal to a real release of these substances.

The very interesting fact was told by the conference by co-chairmen of the Green Party of Belarus. This party carried out an expertise of four ecological laws. This work was fulfilled by best Belorussian specialists. They made more than 30 proposals on each draft of ecological laws. However, no one proposal of experts of the Green Party of Belarus was considered by the Belorussian Parliament.

The above mentioned facts clearly show the existing practice in the field of the environment protection in Belarus and explain why the rights of citizens of Belarus for the healthy environment and access to information as well as the right to participate in elaboration of laws declared by the Constitution have only declarative character.

Demonstration of this situation in Belarus was maybe the most important result of the conference 'Environment and Human Rights'. The participants of the conference adopted a special resolution that requires from the authorities of Belarus the free access to the information, the rights of general public and non-governmental ecological organisations to participate by solving of ecological problems in Belarus. The resolution consists also appeal to authorities of Belarus to sign and to ratify the international conventions that determine rights of citizens in elaboration of the policy in the field of the protection of the environment.


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
October 6, 1998

Big Problems of Little "Chernobyl" Cities

It is a well known fact in Russia that the Ryazan region is one of 16 regions of the Russian Federation polluted by radioactivity after the Chernobyl catastrophe. Of them, Ryazan is at the 5th place among the polluted regions, according to the level of contamination.

Recently the people of the region had received different kinds of social assistance than before. At the end of last year, however, the Russian government, despite resistance from the Russian parliament, cut off the legal privileges and financial assistance to half the residents and liquidators in the contaminated zones. The Former Deputy Prime Minister, Oleg Sysuyev, replying to parliamentary deputies' questions as to why these benefits were eliminated, insisted that the radiation situation became much better and therefore half of these small cities and villages were cut off.

That decision came as a surprise not only for inhabitants of polluted zones, but also for local authorities, because at least 232 villages were not investigated during the last few years. Nobody knows for sure how people's health has changed. It is a big puzzle these days how Moscow's bureaucrats have separated contaminated zones from uncontaminated ones in the Ryazan region.

One example can be seen in the Kychukov village-district consisting of 3 villages and 300 inhabitants, 78 of whom are children. One of the 3 villages is Chirkovo. Chirkovo had been listed in the radiation-polluted zone. People had "Chernobyl" compensation: They did not pay for medicine, children had free food in schools, and did not pay for kindergartens. It was good for them at such a difficult time in Russia. But one recent day, all these privileges guaranteed by the special law were cancelled for fully half of Chirkovo's residents. Chirkovo's school, library, post office, and medical office officially remain in the contaminated zone, but another part of of Chirkovo residential houses was declared clean territory and cut off from social assistance. People say darkly that this is "bad governmental joke," because thyroid gland of half of Chirkovo's children is affected.

People in the Ryazhsk district, the most contaminated in Ryazan region, where Chirkovo is located, have received free medicine worth 3 billion rubles only last year. It is also an indicator of Chernobyl victims' health that federal authorities did not take into account.

A prognosis of the financial situation in Russia offers no solace. Everyday political battles between politicians for power mean that Chernobyl's problems and Chernobyl's victims are hopelessly forgotten.


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
July 24, 1998
NEW AND COMPREHENSIVE REPORT DESCRIBES THE STATUS OF CHERNOBYL-4 RUINS

For the first time results of scientific investigations on object "Ukrytije" (Shelter), which was built over ruined Chernobyl-4 reactor are presented in detailed and systematic way. In Kyiv, a group of authors published a book:

V.N. Herasko, A.A.Kluchnikov, A.A.Korneyev et al. Objekt "Ukrytije". Istoriya, sostoyanije, perspektivy (in Russian). Edited by A.A.Kluchnikov. Kiev: Intergrafik, 1997. - 224 pages. (Object "Shelter". History, current state, perspectives).

There are six chapters in the book describing Technical aspects of disaster (1), History of construction of the "Shelter" (2), Composition and status of nuclear materials in the "Shelter" (3), Current situation of object "Shelter" (4), Influence of object "Shelter" on environment (5) and Perspectives of converting the "Shelter" into environmentally safe system (6). Each chapter has detailed bibliography, 32 colour diagrams and photos picture the most interesting features of the "Shelter".

The first chapter describes the accident itself and different models of the accident which were developed later, as well as the steps to minimize environmental contamination. Such modelling helps to understand composition and structure of the Fuel Containing Masses (FSM), which are described in details and pictured in Chapter 3. Real distribution o FCM in reactor debris is compared to model predictions.

Influence the Shelter on environment and environmental risks are characterised in Chapters 4 and 5. The most probable emergency situation at the Shelter is a fire, less probable are collapse of the roof (0.1 year-1), serious earthquake (0.0001 year-1) and hurricane (0.0001 year-1). Of course, real outcomes of such accidents depend on various factors. In case of the roof collapse, for example, the monthly dose intake at the site could be estimated as 2 Sv. In case of the fire, inhalation dose for personnel working at the site could reach 3 rem in 0.5 hour.

The worst scenario is creation of pre-conditions for self-supporting chain reaction in FCM. In this case the FCM will be scattered by steam explosion, and chain reaction will cease. Less than 10% of reaction products will escape the building, and this could result in less than 50% concentrations allowed for personnel working at the site. Due to absence of financial resources the work on conversion of the "Shelter" into environmentally safe site cannot be started immediately. In co-operation with international organisations and experts, step-by-step approach had been recommended, with three phases: 1) stabilisation and other short term measures; 2) preparation for conversion into environmentally safe site (this can include construction of a big dome or arch (Shelter-2") over the existing Shelter, which would allow dismantling FCM without radioactive releases into environment); 3) conversion into environmentally safe site (which means first of all removing and storing radioactive wastes in a safe storage). The first phase is implemented now, and this is strengthening of constructions, measures to reduce risks of emergency situations etc. During next years the efforts at stabilisation will dominate, because they are quite realistic and more than order of magnitude less expensive than construction of "Shelter-2".


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya

July 1, 1998

CHERNOBYL'S LIQUIDATORS CAN LOSE STATE ASSITANCE IN RUSSIA

It is a well-known fact that 600,000 former Soviet people took part in the elimination of the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe. These people are called "liquidators". Actually, they stopped the spread of the catastrophe and saved the world for us and for future generations. How do these heroes live now?

In addition the statistical data today shows that of the 168,000 liquidators of the Chernobyl catastrophe that live in Russia, 46,000 of them are seriously ill. Only during the last two years 15,000 participants are now prone to premature death. 30,000 liquidators live in Moscow with 2,500 among them as invalids. Their illnesses are cancers of the liver, lungs and stomach, and problems with the thyroid gland. About 1,000 children born in Chernobyl's families also have different illnesses.

In recent times all these people were protected by the State Law of the Russian Federation, "On Social Protection for Citizen's Who Suffered from the Catastrophe at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant". They received compensation for members of families lost as a result of participation in the elimination of Chernobyl's catastrophe, granted gratuitous medical treatment (hospital and ambulatory), gratuitous acquisition of medicines on a physician's prescription, gratuitous annual sanitorium/resort therapy, etc. Unfortunately, that State Law was stopped some time ago and Deputies of the State Duma proposed another drafting of law in which all these privileges were cancelled. Now it is only a drafting but in the event that it is adopted thousand of liquidators will lose state social protection. There are many hospitals and drug stores already dispensing medicines with payment. Moscow, Arkhangelsk, Pskov, Tver and Novorod regions are leaders in that sad statistic. But receiving 300-500 rubles ($50-$80 USD) invalid's pension per month, the liquidators will not be able to survive on their own. Now different groups of liquidators have sent letters to President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko against the drafting of his new Chernobyl law in the Russian Duma which will lead 168,000 liquidators to dire poverty and a slow, painful death.
from Minsk by Mikhail Malko
May 12, 1998
THYROID CANCER IN BELARUS

It took a long time for the international scientific community to recognise that a very high increase in the thyroid cancer incidence by Belorussian, Ukrainian and Russian children after the Chernobyl accident has been caused by this accident. Now it is a widely recognised fact.

At the same time there is no interest among the radiation biology and radiation medicine specialists in a significant increase in the thyroid cancer morbidity of adolescents and adults of these countries established soon after the Chernobyl accident.

As can be seen from the data in Fig.1 the thyroid cancer morbidity of Belorussian children had reached its maximum in 1995 when 91 cases of thyroid cancers have been registered. Since that time an apparent decrease in the incidence of this type of cancer by Belorussian children has been taking place. A very simple explanation for such decrease may be suggested. It is a result of an opposition between thyroid cancer manifestation and the decrease in the number of irradiated children aged 14 years or less at the moment of thyroid cancer. This cohort only includes children born before or in the first 9 months after the Chernobyl accident. It is clear that this cohort continuously shrinks for the reason that all children having reached the age of 14 are considered adolescents. As a result of this transition the number of children with thyroid cancer decreases.

At the same time the number of thyroid cancer in the cohort of Belorussian adolescents and adults grows. The dynamics of changes in the adult morbidity in Belarus is shown in Fig.2 describing the data established in 1977-1997. According to the analysis by the author, the number of thyroid cancer induced by the Chernobyl accident in Belorussian adolescents and adults amounts to 2708 cases during 1977-1997, while the same number in children aged 14 years or less is 564 cases.

°° 


from Kyiv by Volodya Tykhy
April 22, 1998
MONEY SCANDAL ADDS DANGERS TO CHERNOBYL

To improve the safety of still operated Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and to battle the consequences of the nuclear disaster in 1986, Ukrainian authorities received hundreds of millions of dollars.

However, on 18 February 1998, a group of Ukrainian environmental NGOs stated that money have been pocketed by nuclear industry officials via dummy companies and consultancies.

A spokeperson for environmentalists, the head consultant of the Ukrainian Parliament Chernobyl Commision, Volodymyr Usatenko estimated that the total sum of about US$560 million had been misused on the basis of the work that was overcharged, or not completed, unnecessary, or simply fictitious. European Commission nuclear safety official, Mr Bonaccio had admitted that the proper accounts exist only for about one third of the total sum paid out.

On the 27 February European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced that it will not fund a $15 million safety upgrades at Chernobyl reactor number 3. EBRD representative in Ukraine, Yaroslav Kinakh, reported that "our workers discovered cases of money being spent on inappropriate tasks, and also on measures which had been implemented in previous years".

It does not seem that more detailed investigations will follow. In this case, bankers and politicians prefer to pay, not to be accused if a futher disaster occurs. And, moreover, all involved parties will have to work together on a future project - to convert the debris of reactor no 4 into "environmentally safe system".

<<Based on publications in Ukrainian and international media. Volodymyr Tykhy>>


from Moscow by Alla Yaroshinskaya
April 13, 1998
New Attempts to Make Amendments to Chernobyl Legislation in Russia

December 18, 1997 the Government of the Russian Federation adopted a special Decree #1582 "On Adoption of a List of Populated Areas Situated on Nuclear Contaminated Zones as Result of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Catastrophe." This means that the main "Chernobyl" State Law of the Russian Federation, "On Social Protection for Citizens Who Suffered from the Catastrophe At the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant" of November 15, 1995 was changed. But the Federal Council of the Russian Federation Parliament did not agree with that.

On January 28, 1998 Deputies of the Federal Council adopted a Resolution #31, where they underline that despite their earlier proposals to save special status of contaminated zones for 3,500 populated areas in Belgorodskaya, Bryanskaya, Kaluzhskaya, Kurskaya, Leningradskaya, Lipetzkaya, Orlovskaya, Penzenskaya, Ryazanskaya, Tambovskaya, Tulskaya, Ulyankvskaya regions and Republic Mordoviya, the Government cut off 2,837 populated areas from zones with favorable social and economic status at all. The status of 432 populated areas was also reduced. Deputies were affected deeply by the negative social and economic consequences with the Government's Decree for contaminated zones. They underline that changing of the zones' status does not mean that the state is free from its obligations with the victims of Chernobyl.

The Federal Council of the Russian Federation offered to the Government to stop implementation of Governmental Decree #1582, to make a new concept of social defense of the population that will include compensation for loss as result of the Chernobyl catastrophe, even if radioactive zones could be changed on account of the reduction of contamination levels.

On March 4, 1998 the Russian State Duma supported the Resolution of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation. Its Deputies noted that changing the status of radioactive zones will make worse conditions for the lives of the population in these areas and become a much more acute social and economic situation.

Nevertheless, Government already have used own Decree and stopped Federal assistance to the above mentioned population areas. This provokes strikes and resistance from population.