Russia's move into Ukraine shakes up nuclear power sector

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The Ukrainian legislature wants international monitors to help secure its nuclear reactors, according to Reuters.

Ukraine's parliament called for global assistance to ensure that Russia does not move in on the country's energy supply, the article said. Russian troops moved into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula over the weekend.

One Ukrainian lawmaker reportedly said the legislative body appealed to those nations — including the U.S., the U.K. and Russia — that signed a 1994 nuclear accord guaranteeing Ukraine's safety, according to the article.

 

Ukraine has four functioning nuclear power plants operating 15 nuclear reactors, and 12 of them have operated without interruption throughout the country's political crisis, which included mass demonstrations and a revolution that resulted in the resignation of former President Viktor Yanukovych. The power plants are operated by Energoatom, and provide about half the country's electric power.

Three of the country's nuclear reactors are undergoing planned maintenance and/or refueling. According to Energoatom, the power plants have enough nuclear fuel secured to last through April.

Meanwhile, Rosatom, the state nuclear power corporation of Russian, said it plans to keep supplying foreign nuclear plants, including ones in Ukraine, with nuclear fuel despite a ban on shipping nuclear products across Ukraine by rail.

Ukraine's State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate imposed the rail shipping ban January 28. Rosatom's nuclear fuel company Rosatom TVEL announced it would deliver the fuel by air instead.

In a related story, government ministers in the Czech Republic are questioning whether Russian contracts to expand a Czech nuclear power plant should move forward.

Czech Republic Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky said Russia has "disappeared from the group of predictable, democratic countries," and said the events in Crimea are "unacceptable."

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka responded to the minister's statement with one of his own, telling media outlets there is "no reason" for the Czech government to cut business ties with Russia despite its official condemnations of the federation's actions.

According to Reuters, a nuclear energy consortium that includes Russia's Atomstroyexport is bidding on a $10 billion contract to expand the Czech Republic's Temelin Nuclear Power Station near the Austrian border.

The power plant currently has two nuclear reactors, which have a power generation capacity 1,015 MW each. Construction on the plant began in 1987, and the then-communist government destroyed six villages to make way for the power plant.

The plant was originally supposed to have four operating reactors, but the 1990 Velvet Revolution caused the then-Czechoslovakian government to cancel plans for unit Nos. 3 and 4.

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