Kiev, Ukraine. Most nations in Europe would understand if Ukraine avoided nuclear power for a millennium or two, given past experience with the Chernobyl plant. But after the Donbass mines were recently nationalized by local governments, Kiev is doubling down on a glow in the dark Ukrainian nuclear power future.
The Ukraine is still suffering from the trauma of the world’s worst nuclear power accident in recent history at Chernobyl, but has now decided to turn the hazardous fuel into the backbone of its energy portfolio.
The corruption torn country now uses atomic power for more than half of its electricity needs as it struggles through a coal shortage sparked by its own blocade of eastern parts of the country that have declared independence.
Ukraine Wednesday marked a 31 year anniversary since the disaster in which thousands died when a nuclear reactor blew itself up in a melt down. The fallout from which, will be around for generations to come.Some Ukrainians remain worried that a similar catastrophe could hit their country again.
“The main risk in using nuclear energy in Ukraine is associated with reactors that have exhausted their lifespans,” says Iryna Golovko of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine’s energy projects department. “Today six of Ukraine’s 15 operating reactors have surpassed their designed service lives, and by 2020, there will be 12 of them.” Golovko adds.
Ukraine’s Energoatom state nuclear power monopoly has brushed off any fears about the safety repercussions of the extra burden being put on the country’s four atomic power plants, one of which is Europe’s largest.
Many international experts are not encouraged by Ukraine’s future plans to double down on nuclear power. They question the steps that now force Ukraine to import coal from the United States and Canada to meet its energy needs.