Ukraine clings to nuclear power despite Chernobyl trauma

1 / 2
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko visit the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in this April 26, 2017 photo, marking the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. (AP)
2 / 2
A girl points at the names of Chernobyl victims at the monument erected in memory of those who died in the Chernobyl explosion, in Ukraine’s capital Kiev, on Wednesday. (AP)
Updated 30 April 2017
0

Ukraine clings to nuclear power despite Chernobyl trauma

KIEV: Ukraine is still suffering from the trauma of the world’s worst civil nuclear accident at Chernobyl but has nonetheless turned the hazardous fuel into the backbone of its energy portfolio.
The crisis-torn country now uses atomic power for more than half of its electricity needs as it struggles through a coal shortage sparked by a three-year war against Russian-backed insurgents in the separatist east.
And that figure shot up to nearly three-quarters of all power consumed during natural gas price disputes with its eastern arch foe and energy superpower Russia from 2014 to 2016.
Ukraine Wednesday marked 31 years since the disaster in which thousands died with the country extending the lifespan of its communist-era nuclear reactors and turning atomic power into a workhorse that will be around for generations to come.
The Chernobyl plant’s fourth reactor in the north of former Soviet Ukraine exploded in 1986 after a safety test went horribly wrong at 1:23 am on April 26. Some Ukrainians remain worried that a similar catastrophe could hit their country again.
“The main risk in using nuclear energy in Ukraine is associated with reactors that have exhausted their lifespans,” says Iryna Golovko of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine’s energy projects department.
“Today, six of Ukraine’s 15 operating reactors have surpassed their designed service lives,” she told AFP. “And by 2020, there will be 12 of them.”
Ukraine enjoys abundant coal reserves that happen to lie mostly in regions controlled by Russian insurgents.
Kiev spent nearly three years in the uncomfortable position of fighting the rebels while enriching them by buying their anthracite coal to keep its thermal power plants pumping.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko bowed to public pressure and banned all trade with the separatist east on March 15.
Energy Minister Igor Nasalyk said shortly after Poroshenko’s decision that nuclear power’s share of total electricity production had jumped to 62 from around 55 percent.
It had stood at 46 percent before Ukraine was riven by war and economic crises in 2013.
The government has since allowed regional power companies to impose blackouts in case of weather-related surges in demand.
Ukraine is also negotiating a coal purchase agreement with the US that Kiev hopes could fulfil two-thirds of its annual needs.


France arrests 10 ultra-right suspects over plot to attack Muslims

The suspects were being monitored by France’s DGSI intelligence agency, intercepted messages showing they were seeking to buy arms. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 June 2018
0

France arrests 10 ultra-right suspects over plot to attack Muslims

  • France is home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims or almost nine percent of the population
  • Sources said the gang was looking to hit “targets linked to terrorists

PARIS: Ten people with links to the radical far-right have been arrested by anti-terrorist police in France over an alleged plot to attack Muslims, judicial sources said Sunday.
The arrests were made late Saturday in operations across France, including the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the sources told AFP.
The suspects had an “ill-defined plan to commit a violent act targeting people of the Muslim faith,” one source close to the probe said.
Another source said the gang was looking to hit “targets linked to terrorists.”
France has been hit by a string of militants attacks since early 2015, often by people who have become radicalized or claim to have acted in the name of the Daesh group.
More than 240 people have been killed in the attacks, including 130 who lost their lives in a wave of bombings and shootings mainly in Paris nightspots in November 2015.
The suspects were being monitored by France’s DGSI intelligence agency, intercepted messages showing they were seeking to buy arms, and searches turned up some weapons, the sources said.
France is home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims or almost nine percent of the population, according to a report by US-based think-tank the Pew Research Center at the end of last year.