Ukrainian authorities have made plans to store a portion of the country’s nuclear waste at the site of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, near the region’s major water supply.
For 25 years, the radioactive waste has been sealed by a concrete structure known as a “sarcophagus,” which is now vulnerable to collapse, experts say. —ARK
“Chernobyl is still one of the most dangerous nuclear facilities in the world,” Arthur Denisnko, energy expert at the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine told IPS. “The existing confinement is unstable and was built 25 years ago in a rush. If the structure collapses, radioactive dust would be released.”
... Ukrainian authorities may even be increasing risks to the Chernobyl region itself by planning the construction of a central nuclear waste storage facility there.
The location is justified by the virtual absence of population in the area, but it runs counter to plans to revitalise the region, and ignores the risks involved in locating the facility in the proximity of the Dnipro river, which supplies water to 70 percent of Ukrainians.
About 150 tons of spent nuclear fuel are annually produced in Ukraine and, while several experts claim this fuel has potential for re-usage in new generation reactors, the construction of such reactors is yet unheard of worldwide.
For radioactive waste, which is accumulating in almost all Ukrainian nuclear power plants, there is also no solution in sight, a problem that is not unique to Ukraine.
Flickr / Pedro Moura Pinheiro
Rusting mailboxes sit in an abandoned apartment building in Pripyat, a ghost town near the Chernobyl nuclear plant.