Worldcrunch NEWS BITES
Understaffed, poorly designed and in disrepair, Russias nuclear power plants may well be ticking time bombs, a report acquired this week by Switzerlands Le Temps suggests.
The report, authored by the Russian nuclear agency, Rosatam, says the countrys nuclear facilities suffer from 31 serious security flaws. Among other things, Russias atomic energy plants are ill-prepared for the type of natural disasters that recently affected the Fukushima plant in Japan. Designers did not take into account the risk of earthquakes when planning the facilities in Russia, according to the Rosatam report.
What is even more worrying is that some of Russias nuclear facilities were modeled on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which exploded in April 1986 releasing large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere. In addition, most of the nuclear plants don't have automatic shutdown mechanisms, which are supposed to function whenever a natural catastrophe takes place. The cooling systems in several plants have many weaknesses, and overall, Russian nuclear plants lack safety inspectors and qualified maintenance and repair staff, the Rostama report revealed.
Le Temps received the scathing Rostama study from Bellona, a Norwegian environmental organization. The report has been sent to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. In commissioning the report, says Ole Harbitz, head of the crisis commission for the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern), President Medvedev demonstrated that he is taking the risk of natural disasters more seriously following the Fukushima accident.
Read the full article in French by Antoine Jacob.
Photo - Timm Suess