Thieves stole radiation alarm

A new theft occurred at Kola nuclear power plant in mid May. This time the thieve(s) removed two items of equipment, which were a part of the automatic radiation monitoring system at the plant’s fourth reactor unit. The plant lost control over the radiation levels in the fourth reactor hall for 24 hours, but managed to regain it.

The incident was not reported to the police until 27 May. According to Murmansk daily, the Polyarnaya Pravda, the plant’s security manager said they tried to commission an internal investigation, but failed to identify the thieve(s).

The radiation monitoring system, 30 electronic dosimeters, was delivered and installed through the TACIS program (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States) in 1997/1998.

The stolen items did not contain any valuable parts, which could be sold at a good price. So the thieves, apparently, were not any of the plant’s technicians, but someone from one of the plant’s subcontractors, who perform periodic, but non-nuclear, work on site.

On 8 April this year, a theft in the plant’s turbine machinery led to an automatic shut down of its Number 1 reactor unit. The thief was seized a few weeks later and turned out to be a member of a subcontractor team.

Kola Nuclear Power Plant operates four VVER-440 reactors commissioned between 1973, and 1984. The two oldest reactors, now 25 and 26-years-old, are scheduled for shut down in 2003 and 2004. The engineers of Kola NPP are, however, trying to gain permission to prolong the service life for the reactors some five to seven years beyond 2004.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no