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/

Chernobyl, not Peristroika, Caused Soviet Union Collapse: Gorbachev


DiaNuke

Editor’s Note: Journalist Alla Yaroshinskaya’s article based on declassified documents, contradicting Mr. Gorbachev’s claims here that there was no cover-up in Chernobyl, can be accessed here.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail GorbachevMikhail Gorbachev was the last head of state of the Soviet Union, and helped bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

Courtesy: Project Syndicate

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 26 years ago this month, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.

The very morning of the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear station on April 26, 1986, the Politburo met to discuss the situation, and then organized a government commission to deal with the consequences. The commission was to control the situation, and to ensure that serious measures were taken, particularly in regard to people’s health in the disaster zone. Moreover, the Academy of Science established a group of leading scientists, who were immediately dispatched to the Chernobyl region.

The Politburo did not immediately have appropriate and complete information that would have reflected the situation after the explosion. Nevertheless, it was the general consensus of the Politburo that we should openly deliver the information upon receiving it. This would be in the spirit of the Glasnost policy that was by then already established in the Soviet Union.

Thus, claims that the Politburo engaged in concealment of information about the disaster is far from the truth. One reason I believe that there was no deliberate deception is that, when the governmental commission visited the scene right after the disaster and stayed overnight in Polesie, near Chernobyl, its members all had dinner with regular food and water, and they moved about without respirators, like everybody else who worked there. If the local administration or the scientists knew the real impact of the disaster, they would not have risked doing this.

In fact, nobody knew the truth, and that is why all our attempts to receive full information about the extent of the catastrophe were in vain. We initially believed that the main impact of the explosion would be in Ukraine, but Belarus, to the northwest, was hit even worse, and then Poland and Sweden suffered the consequences.

Of course, the world first learned of the Chernobyl disaster from Swedish scientists, creating the impression that we were hiding something. But in truth we had nothing to hide, as we simply had no information for a day and a half. Only a few days later, we learned that what happened was not a simple accident, but a genuine nuclear catastrophe – an explosion of a Chernobyl’s fourth reactor.

Although the first report on Chernobyl appeared in Pravda on April 28, the situation was far from clear. For example, when the reactor blew up, the fire was immediately put out with water, which only worsened the situation as nuclear particles began spreading through the atmosphere. Meanwhile we were still able to take measures in helping people within the disaster zone; they were evacuated, and more than 200 medical organizations were involved in testing the population for radiation poisoning.

There was a serious danger that the contents of the nuclear reactor would seep into the soil, and then leak into the Dnepr river, thus endangering the population of Kiev and other cities along the riverbanks. Therefore, we started the job of protecting the river banks, initiating a total deactivation of the Chernobyl plant. The resources of a huge country were mobilized to control the devastation, including work to prepare the sarcophagus that would encase the fourth reactor.

The Chernobyl disaster, more than anything else, opened the possibility of much greater freedom of expression, to the point that the system as we knew it could no longer continue. It made absolutely clear how important it was to continue the policy of glasnost, and I must say that I started to think about time in terms of pre-Chernobyl and post-Chernobyl.

The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as I could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.

This is wrong. My declaration of January 15, 1986, is well known around the world. I addressed arms reduction, including nuclear arms, and I proposed that by the year 2000 no country should have atomic weapons. I personally felt a moral responsibility to end the arms race. But Chernobyl opened my eyes like nothing else: it showed the horrible consequences of nuclear power, even when it is used for non-military purposes. One could now imagine much more clearly what might happen if a nuclear bomb exploded. According to scientific experts, one SS-18 rocket could contain a hundred Chernobyls.

Unfortunately, the problem of nuclear arms is still very serious today. Countries that have them – the members of the so-called “nuclear club” – are in no hurry to get rid of them. On the contrary, they continue to refine their arsenals, while countries without nuclear weapons want them, believing that the nuclear club’s monopoly is a threat to the world peace.The twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe reminds us that we should not forget the horrible lesson taught to the world in 1986. We should do everything in our power to make all nuclear facilities safe and secure. We should also start seriously working on the production of the alternative sources of energy.

The fact that world leaders now increasingly talk about this imperative suggests that the lesson of Chernobyl is finally being understood.

 

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