Zio-Podolsk Scandal – Save Our Souls Part – 3 #nuclear


Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors at home and abroad, pocketing profits

CharlesDigges, 28-02-2012

Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.

The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB.

It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.

“The scope of this scandal could reach every reactor in Russian and every reactor built by Russia over the past several years and demands immediate investigation,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. “Were is the political leadership in the Russian government to deal with such a crime?”

Hauge expressed outrage that an alleged crime of such a massive scale was not leading to immediate action to check each reactor that may have been affected by the profit pocketing scheme, and he was frustrated that the FSB and prosecutors were not naming specific reactors that may be involved.

“As long as the Russian government is not investigating this case correctly, we will have to ask international society to do it,” he said.  “Bellona will be taking further action in this case.” Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Russia’s Ecodefense agreed.

“Stopping and conducting full-scale checks of reactors where equipment from ZiO-Podolsk has been installed is absolutely necessary,” said Slivyak. “Otherwise [there is] the risk of a serious accident at a nuclear power plant with cleanup bills stretching into the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars [that] will have to be footed by taxpayers.”

The criminal case was opened against ZiO-Poldolsk in December, but information about the investigation was released in the Russia media via the official Rosbalt agency only last week –  a common circumstance in FSB-associated investigations.

The charges leveled against ZiO-Podolsk, which is Russia’s only manufacturer of steam generators for nuclear plants built by Rosatom domestically and by its international reactor construction subsidiary Atomstroiproyekt are a staggering blow to Rosatom’s credibility.

ZiO-Podolsk is a subsidiary organization of Atomenergomash, founded in 2006. Atomenergomash was acquired by Atomenergoprom, which is 100-percent state-owned, in 2007. Atomenergoprom is a part of Rosatom.

But the paperwork is rather a technicality for a machine works that has been involved with the nuclear industry since its inception. Founded in 1919, ZiO-Podolsk produced the boiler for the first electricity-producing nuclear reactor at Obninsk in 1952, and has produced the boilers for every Russian reactor built ever since.

A shudder in the environmental community

According to prosecutors, ZiO-Podolsk began shipping shoddy equipment in 2007 or perhaps even earlier. This has implications for the safety of nuclear power plants built by, or that bought equipment from, Rosatom in Bulgaria, China, India and Iran – as well as Russia – striking a chord of outrage and distress among environmental groups.

ZiO-Podolsk is also making critical parts for the reactor pressure vessel and other main equipment for the BN-800 fast reactor at Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant, in Russia’s Sverdlovsk Region in the Urals, a source told Bellona on the condition of anonymity.

The machine works giant is also making steam generators for Russia’s Novovoronezh, Kalinin, and Leningrad Nuclear Power Plants, and Belene in Bulgaria, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association.

The case assembled against ZiO-Podolsk involves embezzlement of state funding intended for purchases of raw material that are compatible with contemporary safety standards for nuclear reactors, Rosbalt reported.

The FSB investigation

According to the FSB investigation – which was described in unusual detail by the news wire – procurement director Shutov allegedly purchased low-grade steel for equipment in collusion with ZiO-Podolsk’s supplier AТОМ-Industriya. That company’s general director, Dmitry Golubev, is currently at large after embezzlement charges were filed against him by the same Moscow court that ordered Shutov’s arrest, Rosbalt quoted FSB sources as saying.

The scheme between Shutov and Golubev allegedly involved Shutov turning a blind eye to inferior quality steel in return for a large portion of the profits reaped by ATOM-Industriya, the FSB told Rosbalt, citing transactions that were accounted for in bookkeeping documents the security service said it confiscated from the financial director of ATOM-Industriya.

“This company purchased cheap steel in Ukraine and then passed it off as [a] more expensive [grade]; the revenues were shared by the scam’s organizers,” an FSB source was quoted by Rosbalt as saying.

FSB agents said that ATOM-Industriya produced some 100 million roubles’ (€2.5 million) worth of pipe sheets, reactor pit bottoms, and reservoirs for ZiO-Podolsk – equipment that was delivered to Russian and foreign reactors – including an order of so-called tube plates for high-pressure heaters at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy NPP. High-pressure heaters, while having no relation to the safe operation of reactors, are used to improve efficiency of power output.

Bulgarian plant expressing concern

When Rosbalt ran its detailed story last week, the management of Kozloduy NPP was quick to respond by releasing an early statement saying its two heaters had been “functioning flawlessly”  since their installation dates in 2010 and 2011.

A statement released 10 hours later that day carried by a different news agency, however, reported that Kozloduy NPP CEO Alexander Nikolov had sent off a letter to ZiO-Podolsk and Atomstroiexport demanding that they certify the quality of the metal in the heaters.

The FSB alleged to Rosbalt that the use of shoddy steel in the case of the heaters manufactured for Kozloduy NPP alone netted a black profit of 39 million roubles (€1 million) for ATOM-Industriya.

Detailed report likely true

Ecodefense’s Slivyak said he believed the Rosbalt report and its copious quotations from the typically secretive FSB to be on the level.

Aside from the suspicions raised by Kozloduy NPP, Slivyak also said that the Russian built Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in China had previously complained to Rosatom with over 3,000 grievances regarding the low quality of materials delivered to construct the plant, lending credence to the FSB’s version of events.

Slivyak further noted the FSB, which functions as an attack dog for the government of Vladimir Putin, has nothing politically to gain by giving Rosatom – a pet corporation in Putin’s  “power vertical” – a black eye.

The week following Robalt’s article, Rosatom, which had previously refused comment, and Atomenergomash, released a bristling denial as interesting for what it does say as for what it leaves unsaid.

“Rosatom and Atomenergomash deny information related to substandard equipment at nuclear power station that was delivered by ZiO-Podolsk,” read the joint statement. The companies say that “all possible announcements about unsuitable production quality at ZiO-Podolsk are knowingly incorrect and mistaken.”

The statement continued, saying: “A stringent multi-layered system of quality control is in place at ZiO-Podolsk, encompassing all level of production: from expert evaluations of received materials and ores to final inspection of products. Evaluations of the compliance of equipment’s quality delivered to foreign nuclear power stations is carried out by the authorized organization OAO Zarubezhatomenergostroi.”

But the joint statement failed to contradict information supplied to Rosbalt by prosecutors concerning the arrests of upper-management officials at ZiO-Podolsk and ATOM-Industriya.

Two spokesmen for the FSB contacted by Bellona confirmed the version of events their colleagues described to Rosbalt, but refused to discuss “an ongoing investigation” further. They also refused to comment on what other nuclear power plants besides Kozloduy may have been affected by defective materials from ZiO-Podolsk.

http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2012/podolsk_corruption

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-1-nuclear/

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-2-nuclear/

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/india-zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-4-nuclear/

 

Zio-Podolsk Scandal – Save Our Souls – Part -1 #Nuclear


By- CharlesDigges

Corruption in Russian Nuclear Industry

If corruption in general is dangerous, it is quite deadly when it happens in the nuclear industry. The ecological group Ecodefense! believes the risks are high enough to result in another Fukushima, while the National Anti-Corruption Committee (NAC) has urged Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to initiate investigations into the broadly reported violations and abuses in the nuclear industry, including at new nuclear power plant (NPP) construction sites.

The NAC further refers to reports by the official national daily RossiiskayaGazeta as it says: “[…] in the past six months alone, removed from their posts on suspicion of corruption and other abuses were heads of twelve Rosatom enterprises. In 2010, 35 industry officials were dismissed for the same reasons. In a notorious development last summer, officials with the Main Department for Economic Security and Countering Corruption of the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation detained former Rosatom deputy director YevgenyYevstratov and charged him with embezzling budget funds allocated toward the construction of a number of the corporation’s sites.”

Some of the details concerning the urgent issue of “abuses perpetrated with respect to the industry’s purchases in NPP construction and modernisation projects,” as highlighted by the NAC, which cites media reports, are, in particular, purchases of technological equipment for the cooling towers of the fourth reactor of Kalinin NPP, in Udomlya (some 200 kilometres northwest of Moscow) and the second line of construction at Leningrad NPP, near St. Petersburg:

“Recently, equipment purchases for NPPs have been conducted outside the tender procedure, which is contrary to the law. […] a specially issued regulation […] adopted in 2007 by [Rosatom’s daughter company, national NPP operator] Concern Rosenergoatom allows for the selection of equipment to be bought without conducting a tender – or solely based upon the decision of the design organisation.”

The consequences of corruption schemes that are allegedly employed by Rosatom companies – such as the use of counterfeit and non-certified equipment in the construction of new nuclear reactors – could not have escaped the scrutiny of the federal industrial and ecological safety oversight agency, Rostekhnadzor. As evidenced by facts published in Rostekhnadzor’s yearly report of 2009, new reactor construction is compromised by run-of-the-mill theft – perpetrators substitute cheaper, subquality materials for the ones approved for construction. The federal service reports, for instance, the following incidents at the construction sites of Rostov and Leningrad NPPs:

Problems that apparently plague the construction of new reactors in Russia finally manifested themselves vividly on July 17, 2011, in the crumbling of steel structures and the carcass of a containment building under construction for a new reactor at the site of Leningrad NPP-2.

Besides implementing a number of domestic projects, Rosatom is also building or preparing to build new reactors in other countries – such as the former USSR republics of Ukraine and Belarus, where environmentalists and NGOs are likewise concerned that corruption and below-par construction quality may eventually affect the safety of the future reactors.

“The numerous violations of construction norms and standards, and working conditions, which lead to even serious incidents at NPP construction sites in Russia, cast doubt on the capability of the State Corporation Rosatom and its subcontractor companies of carrying out quality and reliable construction projects as per [Rosatom’s] export contracts, in particular, in Ukraine,” said, for instance, a statement on the website of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine.

And the Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign, which is one among many Russian and Belarusian organisations trying to prevent the construction, in Belarus’s town of Ostrovets, of a new nuclear power plant to an as-yet untested Rosatom design, wrote this in an address to Russia’s Putin and Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko: “The known incidents and deficiencies in the operation and construction of Russian-built NPPs in Russia, Iran, and China, as well as the recent collapse of reinforcing steelwork at the construction site of the containment building at [Leningrad] NPP-2, are evidence that Rosatom and its structures have serious problems of a systemic nature and cannot guarantee the quality of their sites. This propagation of dangerous nuclear technologies places a special responsibility on the Russian government.”

What the Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign is referring to is the less than perfect performance record Rosatom has been showing in its international construction contracts, such as problems with completing and launching the reactor at Iran’s Bushehr or the 3,000 or so complaints brought by China to Rosatom’s notice with regard to the quality of the equipment supplied to a station Rosatom is building there.

At the end of 2010, the Moscow-based ecological group Ecodefense! and Transparency International Russia presented a study that took a look at corruption risks in Rosatom’s purchasing practices – the results of an analysis of some 300 orders placed by the state corporation and posted on its website for open access.

At issue are contracts concluded by Rosatom with external organisations for goods or services needed for particular projects – orders paid with budget funding – and the study highlights prominent corruption risks present in Rosatom’s purchasing activities. Because of a special status the corporation enjoys in the country, Ecodefense! and Transparency International Russia conclude, Rosatom’s purchases are not subject to the jurisdiction of the federal law that establishes procedure for procuring goods or services for state or municipal needs. And even though Rosatom itself provides a set of guidelines for such activities in its Unified Industry Purchases Standard, the restrictions these impose on the purchaser or ordering party are less clearly defined than in that federal law.

Furthermore, a monitoring study of a selected sample of 200 purchasing agreements made by Rosatom revealed numerous violations of the Industry Standard, such as with, for instance, the selection of a particular method for placing an order, failure to provide cost estimate documentation when ordering construction or renovation works, and more.

Altogether, violations of Rosatom’s own purchasing standard were found in 83 contracts – 27 percent of the total sample or 41 percent of the 200 contracts selected for in-depth analysis. Another conclusion was that the laws and regulations that govern Rosatom’s activities where buying goods and services for the corporation’s needs is concerned are fraught with serious deficiencies that leave ample room for corruption risks.

“Corruption in the nuclear industry leads to an impaired safety culture, substandard construction quality, and, as a result, accidents at nuclear sites. With respect to Rosatom, there is no outside control, so there are truly gigantic opportunities there for corruption,” Ecodefense!’s co-chair Vladimir Slivyak told Bellona. “There was corruption [within Rosatom] before, too […] But it is just recently, brought along with a new wave of NPP construction, that corruption processes [within Rosatom] may have reached a record high in the [corporation’s] history.

Rosatom’s former functionary Yevstratov was charged with embezzling 50 million roubles ($1.8 million) in state funding earmarked for the development of spent fuel management technologies. The arrest was hailed as a success in an anti-corruption crusade undertaken jointly by Rosatom and the Ministry of Interior, but it did not look convincing to Bellona’s Alexander Nikitin.

Nikitin, who heads the St. Petersburg-based Environment and Right Center Bellona, said that the term “corruption” is tossed around in contemporary Russia as frequently as charges of espionage, and that a possible explanation for the arrest could be Rosatom’s ardent post-Fukushima efforts to polish its image – something that would make Yevstratov, the head of safety programmes, a sitting duck for an anti-corruption sweep.

Notes:

[1] Corruption: A new Russian Fukushima in the making? (2011 article).

[2] http://www.bellona.org/articles/articles_2011/corruption_rosatom

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-2-nuclear/

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-3-nuclear/

https://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/india-zio-podolsk-scandal-save-our-souls-part-4-nuclear/

Living in a nuclear hell


By Charles Stratford , Aljazeera

The town of Muslymovo has to be one of the saddest places on earth. The thousands of people who have little choice but to live here, on the banks of the Techa river not far from Russia’s southern border with Kazakhstan, are the victims of a nuclear disaster that began more than six decades ago.

They are still suffering with the consequences of life next door to the Mayak nuclear plant – still dying from the radiation-related illnesses that have claimed the lives of so many before them.

Mayak was constructed in the 1940s. Our driver knew how to avoid checkpoints. We stuck a small camera on our windscreen and drove to within a hundred metres of the plant gates.

It’s like a city. Families work and live here. Teenagers chased each other in the snow just beyond the fence.

Mayak is surrounded by silver birch forests. Signs by the road warn people not to enter the woodland or pick the wild mushrooms. Mayak once provided the Soviet Union with around 40 per cent of the world’s weapons-grade plutonium.

The country’s first atomic bomb was built here. Between 1949 and 1951, the plant dumped hundreds of tonnes of highly radioactive waste into the nearby Techa.

Hundreds of villages were resettled but incredibly, four remain in the contaminated area. Residents don’t know why they were never moved.

Many people we spoke to say they are being used as human guinea pigs. They talk of a secret government experiment looking at the effects of radiation exposure on humans.

They say they have to go to a hospital in Chelyabinsk, the regional capital around 50km away, for treatment of the various radiation related illnesses they suffer.

One woman described her visits.

“They must have tested new drugs on us. You come from the hospital where you spend a month then get sick for a month at home. They don’t treat you. They hurt you. They don’t say anything.”

Some of the old Muslymovo village has been moved in recent years but to a place which is only a less than a half hour walk from the highly radiation polluted river.

The Geiger counter readings we took by the river showed radiation levels 50 times higher than the level experts say is safe for humans.

Our driver, who himself suffers chronic radiation illness pointed to a car tyre frozen solid in icy marsh. He said if we tested our Geiger counter there we would get a reading at least three times higher than the one we had.

There were no barriers or fences to keep people out. And there were footprints in the snow everywhere. A rusty sign warned people not to enter or pick the berries.

But fishermen still come here. In the summer children still swim.

Most people in the village know the dangers but seem resigned to their fate. They don’t have the money to move to a safer place. Many others seem ignorant of the risks.

“We get sick and many get cancer because of the atoms”, said one woman, “we can’t stop our children from swimming in the river”.

The government says the resettlement programme is complete.

It gave some of the Muslymovo residents the choice of around $35,000 to find a new home of their choice or be moved to a house on the new site 2km from the river.

Most say the sum was never enough to afford a home further away.

They say a lot of money which was supposed to go towards building new homes was stolen by contractors or officials.

Most of the residents we spoke to complain of the Radon gas which they claim seeps from the soil and into their homes.

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” says one man. “It’s only 2km to the river. We are still in radioactive territory. There is radioactive Radon gas in the houses. We think this was arranged to embezzle the money.”

“We bought soil from the old place. When we moved here they didn’t tell us it was dangerous here. They found Radon gas later when the houses were already built.”

Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom has launched an inquiry into claims the money was stolen. The investigation continues.

Residents complain their new homes are poorly insulated against the brutal winter cold that can reach lows of minus thirty degrees.

“You cannot treat people like this. After we suffered from the radiation river and now they move us here to unsuitable houses, to this land. People are tired – tired of the fighting,” said one man.

Most of the children in this area suffer some form or other of radiation related illness.

Symptoms of Chronic radiation sickness include recurrent infections, swellings, anemia, unhealed wounds, hair loss and bruises. Long term exposure to high rates of radiation causes birth defects and cancer.

Locals call it the “river sickness”.

The boy in our report with the growth on his neck is 17 years old.

He has eight brothers and sisters. They all suffer from radiation related illness.

His mother says she took him to the local doctor to get his neck checked.

She says the doctor told her the lump would disappear. She says her son was never even offered a biopsy.

This, in a place where people have died of cancer for decades. An area that has some of the highest levels of radiation pollution in the world.

“We are afraid, the consequences are terrifying. But where can we move to?” she said.

So many people we spoke to kept asking the same thing “Why haven’t we been moved further away from the river?”

The government says it recognises that thousands of people still live in the contaminated zone.

It offers the insultingly meagre sum of around $4 a month compensation. It offers approximately $30 a month towards medical costs.

We tried speaking to local government health workers.

We waited five hours to speak to the doctor in our report.

When he did finally show up, he seemed embarrassed – as if he wanted to answer our questions but couldn’t.

The conversation he had on the phone which we secretly filmed is evidence there’s perhaps much the government doesn’t want outsiders to know.

And then there are the hundreds of families that were never moved at all. Not even the 2km up the road to the new village.

We met 87-year-old Ekaterina. Her family was originally from Germany.

During World War Two, Stalin moved thousands of Germans living in Russia as far away from urban areas as he could.

Ekaterina and her family were moved to one of the villages near Mayak.

In 1957, when an explosion at a plant storage tank forced an evacuation of the area she and her family were relocated again.

They were moved to Muslymovo next to the radiation polluted river. Fifty years later she is still there.

She breaks down in tears when we ask her how she survives. She says she was never able to have children. Her husband died years ago.

“Many people have died of cancer in this area. People are always sick. I want to move but I was never asked. I don’t understand why.”

Between 2001-2004 up to 40 million cubic meters of more radioactive slush ended up in the Techa river. The government acknowledges this as fact.

A criminal investigation was launched.

In 2005, prosecutors moved to charge the head of the Mayak Nuclear plant.

He was convicted but soon after pardoned in a general amnesty to commemorate the 100th year anniversary of the Russian parliament.

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,228 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,839,377 hits

Archives

April 2021
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  
%d bloggers like this: