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Westinghouse seeks EU aid to weaken Russia’s nuclear fuel role in Europe

August 21, 2014, 16:47 UTC+3 LONDON
Michael Kirst, Westinghouse’s vice-president for strategy, says Europe needed the second supplier in case of technical failures and possible political sanctions
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© ITAR-TASS/Ilya Yakovlev

LONDON, August 21. /ITAR-TASS/. US-based Westinghouse has asked the European Union to introduce competition rules on the nuclear fuel market with the aim of reducing Europe’s dependence on the Russian fuel supplies, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

The world’s biggest supplier of nuclear fuel argues that with Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas supplies in view of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Brussels needs to asses risks concerning the Russian nuclear fuel supplies to Eastern Europe.

“There is a clear security of supply issue…you do not have a second supplier,” the daily quoted Michael Kirst, Westinghouse’s vice-president for strategy, as saying. “The utilities that are entirely dependent on Russia are playing a game of gambling here.”

He said Europe needed the second supplier in case of technical failures and possible political sanctions.

According to Westinghouse, Russia makes up for 36% of the entire EU’s uranium enrichment needs, and many reactors in Eastern Europe depend entirely on sets of fuel rods from Russia.

Finland is one of the European states depending heavily on supplies of Russian nuclear fuel, while Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are entirely dependent on the Russian deliveries.

The FT reports that, according to Westinghouse “the EU’s weak spot lies in Russian VVER reactors across the former communist bloc and Finland, for which the Russian company TVEL is the only supplier.”

Westinghouse presses the EU for diversification in the Eastern Europe, since the US-based company is the only alternative for supplies of nuclear fuel for VVER-440 reactors.

The company said it needs an investment of $20 million to reprise the nuclear fuel production for the VVER-440 reactors, however, the work would take up to two years.

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