EC let Kola NPP down

Publish date: June 2, 1999

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

The European Commission turned down the request from Kola nuclear power plant to buy vital fire safety equipment.

The European Commission’s rejection of an application filed by Kola NPP for new fire detection equipment is not the first in the row. Several previous applications from the nuclear power plant has been turned down recently as well. To compensate the lack of new fire detection equipment the plant has reportedly employed additional firemen.

The chief engineer at Kola NPP, Vassily Omeltchuk, told The Sunday Telegraph: "We are in despair." Head of the fire team, Gennadi Chernukin, says: "Much of our equipment is obsolete." The European Commission rejected five applications for aid from Kola nuclear power plant, although four projects were approved for further financing. These projects had been granted support before and included assistance in replacing safety valves, an upgrading of liquid radioactive waste treatment procedures and the burners in the plant’s incineration unit.

The EC officials say they are having difficulty "finding suitable Western energy companies to work with the Russians." Since 1992 Kola nuclear power plant received some aid from Norway, Sweden, Finland, EU and USA. Norway earmarked NOK 72 million ($10 million), most of it via the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

General operational assistance and training were among earlier projects at Kola nuclear power plant supported by the European Commission’s TACIS-program. In 1997, TACIS supported a project to comply with the new authorised dose levels for plants staff members and supplied Kola nuclear power plant with a set of electronic dosimeters. In addition, a broad variety of spare parts were delivered, mainly for existing Western-supplied equipment.

In 1996, TACIS supported a steam generator leak detection system at the two oldest reactors (VVER-440/230) and the two newest (VVER-440/213). TASIC has also provided assistance to withdraw sludge out of the plant’s storage tanks for liquid radioactive waste and cementation of the sludge in a form suitable for interim or final storage. In 1996 and 1997, a total of 4,4 million ECU was spent on aid to Kola plant via the TASIC program.