GAN threatens to shut down Leningrad NPP

Publish date: January 28, 2000

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

The Russian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (GAN) says Leningrad nuclear power plant must be shut down should the workers be serious about their threat to reduce the power out-put from the reactors during a protest action.

Tension is gripping even harder at the Leningrad nuclear power plant this week, after the plant’s labour union has announced that they will occupy the reactors control room on February 5, and step by step reduce the power output.

Now, as a response to this threat, Northwest Russia GAN says the three operating reactors at Leningrad nuclear power plant must be shut down. According to the rules, a reducing of power output must follow a detailed scenario that has to be approved by the administration of the plant. Since conflict is initiated by the labour union, the plant’s mangers will never approve such scenario. A statement by the press office of the nuclear power plant says that those workers who will take initiative to reduce the power output might risk legal counter-reaction.

According to the Russian law, strikes at nuclear power plants are illegal, unless administration of a nuclear power plant approve it, which is not the case this time at Leningrad NPP. The workers demand 50 percent salary increase, while the management offers only 10 percent.

The workers plan to go on work as usual on February 5, but after their shift is over they do not intend to leave their working places. The new shift will do the same, so after 16 hours it will be three times as many workers than regularly in the reactor control room. Reducing the power effect of the reactor is a more complicated job than to keep it operating as normal. And presence of doubled and tripled numbers of workers at the place would create the tension in the control room that might lead to a dangerous situation.

The three operating reactors (RBMK-1000) produce a total of 3000 megawatt. First, the effect will be reduced down to 2500 megawatt, thereafter 2000 megawatt and further down to a total stop of the power plant. The strike committee has not revealed any information about the time schedule for the action – likely to be kept secret to press the management to reply positively to their demands before all three reactors are shut down.

There are a total of 7,500 employees at Leningrad nuclear power plant, but it is not probable that the majority will follow the decisions made by the strike committee, making the internal conflict and the level of stress even worse.

The plant stands for 45-50 percent of the electricity production in Leningrad Oblast, and exports electricity to the regions of Novgorod, Pskov, Kaliningrad and Finland. A complete shut down of the reactors will have a dramatic effect on most of these regions.