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MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Ukraine’s switch to the use of upgraded nuclear fuel from the United States at its nuclear power plants (NPP), built in the Soviet times, could threaten safety both at the domestic level and in Europe as well, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“It seems that the Chernobyl tragedy did not teach Kiev authorities any lessons concerning a scientifically feasible approach to the [peaceful] use of nuclear energy,” the Russian ministry said in its statement. “In might be in fact, that the nuclear safety is sacrificed for the sake of political ambitions or, even more, other tangible interests.”
“Consequences of possible accidents and meltdowns [at nuclear power plants] will be in the full responsibility of the Ukrainian authorities and US suppliers of [nuclear] fuel,” the statement added.
The first deputy chairman of the Ukrainian State Inspection of Nuclear Regulations said in September that he signed three fundamental documents regarding supplies of upgraded nuclear fuel TBC-WR from US company Westinghouse. Experts voiced concern over the sharp switch from Russian-to US-produced nuclear fuel as it could pose a threat to the safety of Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which were built in the Soviet Union era.
Westinghouse and Ukraine’s national nuclear power company Energoatom have been cooperating on nuclear fuel supplies since 2000 and in April both companies extended a contract on supplies for Ukrainian nuclear power plants until 2020.
Energoatom and Westinghouse initially launched a project for diversifying nuclear fuel supplies in a bid to reduce Ukraine’s energy dependence on neighboring Russia.
Russia’s manufacturer of nuclear fuel, TVEL, was formerly the major fuel supplier for Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
Ukraine imports about $600 million worth of nuclear fuel from Russia on the average annually.
Nuclear power occupies one of the most prominent places in the Ukrainian economy. Over recent years, having only 22.8% of the installed capacity, nuclear power plants during autumn and winter maximum loads generated about 53% of the country's electricity. Currently there are 15 operating power units at four Ukrainian NPPs.
They are operated by the state-run company Energoatom.
The Zaporizhia nuclear plant with an installed generating capacity of 6,000 megawatt is the biggest energy facility in Ukraine and Europe. It generates about 50% of electricity produced by Ukraine’s nuclear plants and accounts for more than 22% of the aggregate electricity generation in the country.