Recent news on Fukushima leaks once again sparks public concern about nuclear security. System failure of Fukushima’s reactor built by Westinghouse-Toshiba (US-Japan) did a lot of harm to the image of atomic industry as a safe and stable energy source. Russia on its part lays stress on disaster prevention and safety issues. Russia’s state company Rosatom is ready to offer innovative nuclear solutions to fellow BRICS countries.
Last week the Japanese nuclear energy watchdog declared a fresh toxic water leak at Fukushima may be a level 3 «serious incident», the gravest warning since 2011. BBC quotes Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear consultant, who believes that the spent nuclear fuel rods contain more radioactive caesium than was emitted during the explosion at Chernobyl. New Fukushima leaks caused ocean and groundwater contamination creeping toward Pacific.
Unfortunately the structural error the US-Japanese reactor in Fukushima may have lasting negative effects on the future of atomic high tech. Now it is evident that cleanup will take longer than expected, not to speak of the expense. Global media is focused on blaming Japanese state company TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) but in reality it was Westinghouse-Toshiba’s reputation that took a huge dent. Responsible decision makers on nuclear affairs in BRICS countries tend to analyze the core of the problem. Who built the failed reactor in the first place? What are the alternatives?
Now Westinghouse is desperate enough to offer money directly to the governments in attempt to save shattered public image of the American nuclear industry on the international market. Latest example is the case of Temelin NPP project in the Czech Republic. Although involved in building in the United States, China and South Korea the US-Japanese corporation has not completed a single reactor since 1995. Even Finland and the United Kingdom are now eyeing Russian nuclear technology. «We won our key competitors – the U.S., France and Japan». concluded Rosatom Corporation head Sergei Kiriyenko at the 1st Annual Nuclear Construction Conference on August, 8.
Speaking at a seminar in Rio de Janeiro in June, 2013, Brazil’s nuclear expert and the president of Electronuclear energy company Othon Luiz Pinheiro stressed that Brazil needs to think of other solutions to the energy matrix, now quite dependent on hydropower. Eletrobras, Brazil’s biggest power utility company, schedules four to eight nuclear power plants by 2030. Rosatom is one of the qualified suppliers that are under evaluation, believes Pinheiro. After Fukushima Brazil is considering using only safe Rosatom’s reactors with Pressurized Water Reactor technology. Among other technologically advanced BRICS countries Brazil is especially motivated to implement nuclear solutions.
The Supreme Court of India gave a final nod to the commissioning of Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP) in May 2013. Earlier in 2012 Prime Minister Singh accused American and Scandinavian NGOs and sectarian «Christian» groups of fuelling protests near Kudankulam construction site. Three of the NGOs were using foreign funds received for social and religious purposes to fuel the protests, violating Indian foreign exchange regulatory rules. Nuclear energy is now considered in India as a sustainable source of energy. Delhi cannot afford to be a nuclear isolated nation, when most of the developed countries consider it as a major source of energy for their economic growth, the Supreme Court of India declared. The first 1,000-MW unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant is likely to be synchronized with the southern power grid by the end of this month.
Twin VVER-1000 reactors are currently operating in China at Tianwan on the Yellow Sea boast an innovative core-catcher safety net. Two more reactors are due to be completed there by 2019. However, in the future Chinese nuclear industry that is making rapid progress may become the main competitor of Russia’s Rosatom.
South Africa plans to increase the income of national enterprises by $15 billion and get an additional $3.5 billion in budget revenue in association with Russia’s Rosatom, the major stakeholder of Johannesburg’s nuclear program. South Africa has introduced the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for 2010 to 2030, a 20-year projection on the country’s electricity supply and demand, envisages 9 600 MW of additional nuclear capacity by 2030. Speaking at the annual industry convention of the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) on Wednesday, Boris Arseev, the Vice-President of JSC Rusatom Overseas (a subsidiary of Rosatom), said: «IRP would allow to create 15,000 additional jobs in construction, service and operation of the new units, as well as several thousands of jobs in related industries».
Emerging nations are badly in need of nuclear energy. Political elites of the post-American world are determined to overcome the North-South development gap and maintain a sustainable model of economic growth with the help of nuclear technology. Russia, a fellow BRICS member state, can always be relied on for help.