Chernobyl down again

Publish date: December 6, 2000

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

The Chernobyl reactor was shut down again after an emergency Wednesday, just a week after it was restarted following the last emergency, and one week before its scheduled final closure.

A malfunction in one of the reactors cooling circulation device triggered the emergency protection system and the reactor was automatically shut down. No leakage of radioactivity is reported.

Today’s emergency comes only two weeks after the reactor was forced to shut down after the power lines near Chernobyl were damaged due to severe weather conditions. The reactor was then restarted again on December 1 – the same day when the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was to decide whether to provide Ukraine with loan to complete two reactors at the Rovno and Khmelnitsky nuclear power plants. The two reactors, already 80% completed, would replace the electricity demand after proposed closure of the dangerous Chernobyl reactor. That meeting was postponed until tomorrow.

Most likely EBRD will provide Ukraine with the financial means needed to complete the construction of the two new reactors. In 1995, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ukraine and the G7 countries in which it is stated that Chernobyl could be replaced with compensating new reactors. But there are dissagreements among the participating states at the EBRD meeting.

Norway will not give its vote for EBRD financing more reactors in Ukraine. ‘It is our principal view that multilateral financial institutions should not support the construction of more nuclear power’, says the Norwegian Minister of Finance Karl-Erik Schjoett-Pedersen. He is the Norwegian governor to EBRD.

‘Ukraine has a substantial potential for developing renewable energy sources, and institutions like EBRD should support this’, says Schjoett-Pedersen.

On Tuesday this week, a delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the EBRD arrived in Kiev to participate in hearings devoted to the official closing of the last operating reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The share of the Chernobyl reactor in the Ukrainian electricity grid is 5%.