Are there any threats to Russian nuclear facilities? If so, how real are they?
Even after optimistic President’s and Prime Minister’s assurances, the topic of protection of Russian NPPs, which again became one of the actively discussed ones, leaves many questions. The reason for them can be considered not so much the traditional distrust of official statements, as the inability of the authorities clearly manifested in recent years to predict even not too distant events.
This feature is clearly manifested in the situation with the summer fires. It was no less clearly expressed in the unpreparedness for the winter situation with heavy snowfall and icing and in many other situations.
The list can be continued indefinitely, because an endless list of accidents and catastrophes accompanies Russia throughout its latest stories. And all this is the inevitable result of lack of professionalism, which is increasingly being mentioned as the root cause of undesirable events. And it seems fundamental that this feature of national management logically explains many of the decisions taken concerning the widest range of issues - technical, military or political.
Let us consider this feature on the example of the problem of nuclear disarmament and the related issue of the stability of critical objects (QUO) to beyond-design events.
There is no doubt that reducing the threat of nuclear war is a fairly steady process of recent times, the main results of which are associated exclusively with a mutually agreed reduction in the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States. However, the complete elimination of this threat is possible only in the case of the complete destruction of nuclear arsenals by all countries without exception weapons.
Nevertheless, even if one does not take into account the presence of nuclear weapons in other states, the simplified approach, which excludes some essential circumstances from consideration, provides grounds for serious criticism.
In particular, the ratification of the START-3 treaty, which some analysts consider beneficial for Russia and unprofitable for the USA, objectively proves unprofitable, first of all, for our country. We will try to argue the reasons for this statement.
Actually, the problem of security in terms of limiting strategic offensive arms is made up of many components. However, the following are of fundamental importance:
- reducing the number of nuclear weapons, reducing the threat of a massive nuclear strike;
- the presence of vulnerable critical objects (QUO) for the likely adversary, their number and the possible consequences of their defeat.
Excluding less significant details, it can be argued that the level of national security of the state will be determined by the likelihood of causing unacceptable damage to it. And the amount of possible damage, in turn, will be determined by the number and availability of the QUO, as well as the degree of protection. In this regard, we will consider only external threats of a natural and anthropogenic nature.
It seems that when concluding the START-3 agreement, the presence of targets vulnerable to a potential enemy was not taken into account or evaluated as a task of the second (third) plan. Information about the discussion of this aspect in the media is missing. This alone can serve as a basis for pessimism.
Resilience of critical objects to external influences
The President of the Russian Federation made a number of statements related to the Japanese earthquake and the tsunami disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. These statements can be considered as an expression of the head of state’s full confidence to consultants and experts who assert that this is impossible in principle at domestic nuclear power plants. And such an expert conclusion seems flawless, since nine-point earthquakes and, moreover, a ten-meter tsunami in the areas of the location of Russian nuclear power plants are really impossible.
However, the unlimited optimism of Rosatom should be treated very carefully. There are reasons for circumspection, even if we disregard the dubious successes of the Rosatom Renaissance and unrestrained confidence in the reliability of domestic reactors, apparently inherited from one of the academicians, in an attack of senile optimism from the rostrum of one of the last party conventions that RBMK reactors can set in red square.
Such confidence of the leadership of the state corporation causes concern that the whole truth is silent. After all, Rosatom says nothing about the vulnerability of nuclear power plants with RBMK reactors to an act of terrorism similar to that which occurred on September 11 of 2001.
In this regard, it is not the declarations of the department that are of principle, but the initial formulation of the problem:
- If Rosatom was assigned a rather narrow task of assessing the stability of nuclear power plants only to earthquakes and tsunamis, the answer is completely correct.
- But in this case, the question arises about the inability of advisers to formulate a task for state leaders in such a way that it comprehensively covers the problem.
- In turn, the formulation of a particular problem allows us to take the most important question of the stability of other critical objects (CVT), the protection of which from some probable threats is doubtful, beyond the discussion..
Such objects include, I repeat, unprotected from the fall of the Airbus, RBMK reactors or dams of hydroelectric power plants, the consequences of the destruction of which also prove to be catastrophic.
And here it is appropriate to recall the exact lie formula given by British intelligence experts: “A lie is not only a message of unreliable data, but also a concealment of truth from those who should know it.”
Thus, the traditional silence policy for the Russian executive, together with a tendency to ostentatious well-being, gives rise to the assumption that the picture of the real security of the Russian QUO is hidden from the head of state. And this is already very serious, since the consequences of silence may turn out to be beyond the limits.
It can only be worse if state leaders do not want to know the real state of affairs.
Vulnerability Critical Objects
Let us try to justify such a position on the example of only one object, conservatively assuming that there are no other, equally vulnerable targets, on the territory of Russia - the largest state in the world on the planet.
In the Chelyabinsk region at the Production Association "Mayak":
в Fissile Material Storage (HDM) is a long-term (100 years) storage 25 tons of weapons-grade plutonium total activity around 130 MKI.
in the premises of the reactor A-1 are stored 38 tons of commercial plutonium total activity more 100 000 MKI.
A cart in front of a horse or a problem of long-term storage of plutonium
The author had to face the problem of long-term storage of plutonium as a member of the expert commission of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center - All-Russian Research Institute of Technical Physics named after Academician E.I. Zababakhin, of which he was included as an expert in matters of radiation and nuclear safety. The commission’s task was to verify the completeness and adequacy of the consideration of nuclear and radiation safety issues in a project for a feasibility study on the construction of CDM at the Mayak Production Association in the Chelyabinsk Region.
Systematization and analysis of materials related to the problem of long-term storage of plutonium, both weapons-grade and commercial, obtained as a result of reactor fuel reprocessing, made it possible to conclude that there was not only a scientifically and technically sound solution in Russia for 1995 that could be guaranteed safe storage for a hundred years of design, but even the concept of such storage. Moreover, the concept of handling weapons-grade plutonium, which appeared only in the 1998 year, was developed only after an ator in the special opinion attached to the conclusion of the RFNC-VNIITF expert commission, was indicated its absence.
Finally, given the expected 100-year shelf life of plutonium, the absence of the section on “Long-term storage of weapons-grade plutonium” in the “Concept of the Russian Federation on the management of weapons-grade plutonium released during nuclear disarmament” indicates a short-sighted consideration of the issue. After all, for the first time a person encountered plutonium only half a century ago. And the fact that scientific, first of all, related to such a long shelf life, as well as technical issues turned out to be “unnoticed,” can only indicate a non-professional approach to the problem. Moreover, the concept was developed by a working group of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Atomic Energy, which included specialists from the leading institutes of the Ministry and its departments, as well as 12 from the Directorate General of the Ministry of Defense. It is noteworthy that representatives of a number of ministries and departments did not participate in the development of the concept. In particular, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Security Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, as well as the agencies monitoring nuclear and radiation safety did not participate in the development.
Implications of surface decisions
A consequence of the lack of concept and lack of basic data was the implementation of ground-based storage methods of excess plutonium at the Mayak Production Association, which should be characterized only as extremely dangerousthat do not provide physical protection, i.e. retention of content in the project volumes in case of some events that are not included in the project documentation, but, nevertheless, possible events.
This issue should be discussed in more detail, because officially Rosatom insists that list of possible emergency situationsadopted, for example, in the development of the Fissile Material Storage Facility (CDM) project, includes all possible real events. Therefore, we present the corresponding fragment of the technical specification (The source spelling is saved, errors are underlined. G.L.).
The task for the development of the project CDM provides only the following initiating events:
LIST OF INITIAL EVENTS
FOR ANALYSIS OF DESIGN ACCIDENTS.
1. Mechanical effects on containers during transportation and handling (falling, pinching).
2. Depressurization of containers with DM during long-term storage with the release of radioactive aerosols.
3. Fires in storage areas.
4. Complete loss of power supply for up to one month.
5. Complete loss of heat for up to one month.
7. Hurricanes, tornadoes with maximum wind pressure.
8. Flooding, flooding.
9. Lightning strikes.
10. Maximum snow load.
11. The fall of an aircraft with a mass of 20 t, flying at a speed of 200 m / s. The angle of incidence of the aircraft to the horizon in the range from 10 ° to 45 °.
12. Air shock wave caused by an explosion at nearby objects, passing vehicles with pressure in the front in the construction area up to 10 kPa. The duration of the compression phase to 1. The direction of propagation is horizontal.
13. Shelling and bombing using the most common types of ammunition that do not require special means of delivery:
- high-explosive aerial bombs humming bird 450 kg with an explosion in a horizontal position on the "mattress" above the vault;
- cumulative shells weighing 140 kg.
14. Saboteurs who are armed with small-caliber small arms up to 9 mm, flamethrowers, grenade launchers, explosive substances (TNT) weighing up to 50 kg.
15. Failure of the heat removal system for up to one month.
LIST OF INITIAL EVENTS
FOR CALCULATION OF PROJECT ACCIDENTS.
1. Flooding of storage with water, leading to self-sustaining chain reaction.
2. Explosion charge mass 50 kg TNT because of sabotage actions in the storage building, to the intermediate storage room.
3. The fall of technological equipment and building structures on the storage of containers with DM.
The principal disadvantage of the above list is its doubtful completeness, which does not take into account some possible, though unlikely, events. (Anticipating possible objections of opponents, I note that a small probability does not mean at all that any event is impossible. On the contrary, it means that it can happen. The question is when this will happen. And given the 100-year retention period, this question becomes key.)
Let us try to justify the incompleteness of the list of initial events using historical analogies.
Consider some well-known historical events that have occurred over the past hundred years.
- Chronologically, the first should indicate the fall of the Tunguska meteorite in the 1908 year, during the fall (explosion) of which the energy equivalent to the explosion 10 million tons of trotyl released.
- Further, it should be recalled the use of nuclear weapons by the United States against imperial Japan.
- Finally, it should be noted the intensification of terrorist activity, of the many manifestations of which terrorist acts associated with the seizure of Airbus deserve special attention. The most famous of which, 11 September 2001 of the year, ended with the fall of one of the captured aircraft on the Pentagon building and the ram towers of the World Trade Center in New York.
With regard to the problem under consideration, only the fact that the events listed above took place and are real facts is important. Therefore, the exclusion of the possibility of a repetition of similar events would be very short-sighted.
Thus, design solutions were supposed to provide protection against threats similar to those listed above.
If the absence in the list of initial events of the fall of a meteorite can somehow be explained by the exotic nature of such a natural phenomenon, despite the fact that its analogue took place in the last century, then the adopted parameters of a falling plane (bomber from the second world war) appear to be unfounded compared to the mass of a modern airbus. Accordingly, the consequences of the fall of an airbus or transport plane to any of the Mayak facilities at the time of project development were not considered.
However, the events of 9 September 2001, dictate the necessity of taking into account not only this threat, but also to analyze all possible directions of terrorist attacks.
Indeed, approximately two kilometers of airports, Koltsovo (Yekaterinburg) and Balandino (Chelyabinsk), are located at 100 km from the Mayak industrial site. technical assignment.
The nuclear strike on the CDM was also not considered by the developers of the TK, since in the accepted conditions of placement it is impossible to provide protection against such exposure and, therefore, to exclude a catastrophic release of plutonium into the environment.
In this regard, we simply note that on pp. 100 of the report of the US National Council for the Protection of Natural Resources there is a figure showing the goals of the Mayak nuclear strike:
Natural Resources Defense Council
The satellite image obtained by 24 February 2000 of the year is shown at 16 meter resolution.
At the top right, the submerged Kyzyltash lake is shown.
Goals include weapons plutonium production plant, plutonium shutdown reactorsoperating tritium reactors and storage area for fissile materials.
The inner circles correspond to the radii of serious damage, and the outer circles correspond to the zone of moderate damage caused by an explosion of 100 kt at an altitude of 400 m.
(THE US NUCLEAR WAR PLAN: A TIME FOR CHANGE, 2001 Year)
It should be noted that the omissions of the developers did not go unnoticed. On the contrary, the obvious shortcomings of the project have been the subject of numerous investigations in the media and appeals to the authorities. However, all this was left without an adequate response, or sent for a response to Rosatom. The resulting formal replies, which traditionally did not contain convincing refutations proving the groundless fears, not only underlined the significance of the problem, but also testified to the inappropriate attitude of officials towards their official duties.
True, the appeals dealt only with the Fissile Material Storage Facility at the Mayak Production Association - an object that has no analogues on our planet, not only in terms of the potential danger of its contents for all mankind, but also in terms of the level of insecurity from numerous threats of natural and anthropogenic nature.
The logical result of a superficial approach to the implementation of the construction project of HDM implemented under the program "Mutual Threat Reduction" (CooperativeThreatReductionprogram), was the creation of a terrible danger to the colossal territories and a huge number of people. This danger is due to the fact that today mankind does not have adequate technical and economic means to overcome the consequences of the realization of any of the threats not considered in the project.
And the storage intended for centenary storage of weapons-grade plutoniumreleased in the process of reducing nuclear weapons, that is, in fact the entire strategic stockpile, is only a structural unit of the production association "Mayak"located at a distance less than 200 km from the transparent state border with the countries of the Islamic belt. At the same time, today, according to the available information, the total weight plutonium (weapons and commercial) stored at Mayak, is over xnumx tons.
Taking into account the above, the choice of the region of disposition of plutonium storages, not secured by forces not only missile defense, but even as far as we know air defense, It seems completely inexplicable.
Thus, it is possible to formulate a problem that is of paramount importance, but from the recognition of the presence of which, and, moreover, its solutions, the Russian authorities openly shy away from.
This problem sounds like this:
"The catastrophic concentration of plutonium stocks at the Mayak Production Association in conditions that do not guarantee physical protection."
It is difficult to understand whether the Russian authorities are aware of the seriousness of the problem?
Or does the presented reasoning contain any factual or logical errors?
Threats to how real they are
We repeat that the received “responses” of Rosatom (the Ministry, the Agency), together with the analysis of the available materials, only strengthen the conviction that the threat created for Russia at the end of the last century as a result of unreasonable concentrations of gigantic quantities of radioactive substances in a very limited area. It is characteristic that the FSB, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Defense ..., simply evaded the statements of dubious nature.
The map below shows the location of some critical facilities located on the territory of the “Mayak” software.
The list and characteristics of plutonium storage at Mayak
Weapons plutonium storage
Commercial plutonium storage
More 100 000
TOTAL ACTIVITY - more than 100 000 MKI
I repeat that the potential danger of the software "Mayak" is primarily due to concentration on a limited area - less than 30 square. km, colossal radioactivity, a thousand times (!!!) greater than the Chernobyl release. Moreover, in contrast to the Chernobyl release, in the case of realization of one of the above project events, mainly plutonium will be emitted.
A similar concentration of plutonium stocks, entering into contradiction with the fundamental principle of distributed storage of hazardous materials generally accepted in world military and civil practice and testifying to the absence of a state approach to solving the problem, in a normal state would be considered completely unacceptable. In normal, but not in modern Russia.
The only thing that can be agreed with the officials of Rosatom is that Hdm, indeed, is historically unique, which has no analogues among the objects created by mankind. It is regrettable here that this "uniqueness" characterized by not only the radiation parameters of the contents and the shelf life, but first of all, real threats of natural and anthropogenic character, as well as insecurity obvious even to non-professionals.
A little bit about the reaction of Rosatom
Rosatom's answers do not satisfy either as a whole or separately. Declaring that the facility is sufficiently protected from the entire spectrum of threats, the state corporation provides answers on issues that are not within its competence, in particular - military, anti-terrorism, as well as on issues of overcoming the consequences of emergency situations. On the contrary, the corporation’s claims of sufficient security can easily be refuted by factual materials.
In particular, the “uniqueness” of the HDM project, capable of bringing to its creators the laurels of Gerostrat, under certain conditions, is characterized by a number of noteworthy circumstances:
- Unmotivated rejection of the original underground version the disposal of a repository, if there are a number of suitable proposals for consideration, significantly reducing the potential release to the environment of significant amounts of plutonium. In particular, in the vacated underground premises of the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine, which also have a positive conclusion from the state environmental review.
- Threat level, significantly increasing due to the presence on the territory of the Mayak Production Association of other critical objects transforming the enterprise into a very tempting goal not only for a potential aggressor, but also for carrying out a terrorist action with extremely serious and possibly insurmountable consequences. (For obvious reasons, these objects are not listed.)
- Imperfection projectthat does not protect the CDM either from modern means of destruction, even in a non-nuclear variant, or from falling on a modern airliner on the CDM. By the way, at a distance of about 100 km from the site marked on the map, there are Koltsovo (Yekaterinburg) and Balandino (Chelyabinsk) airports, receiving and sending daily dozens of airbuses with a flight mass 10 times more than the parameters bomber front of the Second World War. In the event of such a threat, the question inevitably arises: Shoot down or not shoot down? Time for decision is calculated in minutes. And modern managers, as experience shows, are not able to take independent decisions.
- Finally, the the absence of as far as is known, in this region not only missile defense systemsbut air defense systems.
The above gives, at least, a reason for serious reflection.
It will be stronger than Chernobyl or Fukushima
Unfortunately, unprecedented threatsIn official inquiries and publications have repeatedly drawn the attention of authorities and officials, upon detailed consideration, they take on quite real outlines and characterized by the global scale of the possible consequences. In comparison with them consequences of the Chernobyl disasterseem “Minor radiation incident from the time of perestroika”. Given the fact that it was precisely the economic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster that largely caused the collapse of the Soviet Union, it may turn out to be the main political result of the concentration of plutonium stocks in one place.
In order to make sure that threats are not exaggerated and that the possible consequences of unrecorded events are unprecedented and catastrophic in their consequences, we will make some assessments. However, even elementary calculations based on rough approximations prove our fears.
Qualitatively, the upper limit of the area of the zone that may be potentially contaminated with plutonium can be estimated from the total activity of plutonium and the area of the Northern Hemisphere. In this case:
100000 MCI: 255 mln. km »390 CI / sq. km
It is clear that the obtained value characterizes only the potential danger of plutonium stored at Mayak, that is, the level of contamination provided that the stored plutonium is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth. It is equally clear that the scenario of such an outburst is impossible not only to create, but even to imagine.
More realistic calculations should be focused on any benchmark value. As such a value, you can choose, for example, the level of plutonium surface activity 0,1 CI / sq. km, on the basis of which the exclusion zone was established around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In any case, it is clear that the activity of plutonium stored at Mayak is enough to pollute vast territories.
For more representative estimates, very complex calculations are required under conditions of significant uncertainty in the source data (event scenario, release activity, meteorological situation, etc.). Naturally, this work can only be done in the relevant institutions with powerful computers and software, and with the correct source data.
The following illustrations show estimates of possible radiation consequences of the implementation of any of the beyond-design events.
Areas of possible radiation contamination with plutonium (up to 0,3 million sq. km)
as a result of the implementation of a project event on the repositories
(CDM and reactor "A")
The reality of such forecasts is evidenced by data on the distribution of emissions from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In particular, the results of the atmospheric transfer of xenon-133, shown in the following figure, are indicative.
What to do?
The answer to the question of whose competence includes the consideration of the questions posed is obvious. Only the president, as the guarantor of the constitutional rights of citizens, can and should receive, through several independent channels, comprehensive information necessary for an objective and comprehensive analysis of the problem. And according to the submitted materials to make an informed decision in the interests of the population. After all, the consequences of the implementation of any of the numerous threats are difficult to imagine. And it will be impossible to overcome them!
History knows many examples of neglect of warnings that have disastrous consequences for the Russian people. Suffice it to recall the background of the Great Patriotic War! And regarding the possible accident at the RBMK, experts repeatedly issued warnings long before the Chernobyl disaster. And the consequences of neglect of forecasts are realized in the loss of human lives and financial costs.
With regard to the problem under consideration, it remains only to emphasize that The fundamental difference between a war, even with limited use of nuclear weapons, and the elimination of the consequences of a plutonium catastrophe, is that
It is impossible to win the war with plutonium !!!
Not only Russia will suffer, the whole human civilization will be under threat!
That is why the creation of a comprehensive interdepartmental and independent from Rosatom commissions to review the full range of issues related to the insane concentration of critical objects on the territory of the Mayak plantincluding HDM) and the resulting situation. And also for the development of measures that exclude the catastrophic consequences of beyond design events.
It remains to list the questions, professional answers to which should be received and assessed by the authorities:
- On what basis and what caused the violation of the principle of dispersed storage of hazardous materials and allowed an unprecedented concentration of radioactive materials near the state border?
- What is the reason for the refusal of the underground location of the CDM and the storage of “commercial” plutonium? For example, in the free production areas of the Mining and Chemical Combine (Zheleznogorsk), which also have a positive conclusion of the state environmental impact assessment?
- Does the condition of the critical facilities on the scheme provide sufficient protection when a modern airliner (airbus) falls on them, whose flight mass is 200 tons, at a speed of more than 800 km / h?
- Does the construction of the CDM and the building of the first industrial reactor “A” ensure the retention of stored material when a modern penetrating munition of the GBU-28 type or similar gets into it?
- What consequences can be expected with the following options of a nuclear strike on the CDM and the building of the first industrial reactor "A":
- Air blast with power 100 kt at height 400 m;
- Ground explosion of the same power?
- Is it possible to temporarily store the entire stock of plutonium outside the CDM and the rooms of reactor “A” in the event of force majeure?
- Is the MAYAK software sufficiently secured?
- What could be the economic consequences of the worst case plutonium pollution of a territory compared to the damage from the Chernobyl disaster?
For making scientifically and technically, and, therefore, politically-based decisions, professional, that is, honest answers to these questions and their expert verification will be quite enough.
I will repeat that the unceasing series of catastrophes that shocked Russia from the very beginning of the 21st century: Kursk, Nerpa, the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, the explosions in Ulyanovsk, the Nevsky express in the form of local events that do not affect large areas and significant numbers of people. Unless, of course, do not take into account the summer fires this year.
It seems that the founders of the nuclear industry, I.V. Kurchatov, Yu.B. Khariton and others, would oppose the decision on the concentration of such quantities of plutonium in terrestrial conditions in the absence of effective protection. And the measures of the NKVD in relation to the authors involved in the development and implementation of the project would be extremely tough.
I would like to believe that the current leadership of Russia in the person of the president and the chairman of the government will have enough wisdom and courage to make a decision that will allow them to remain in history as people who have saved not only Russia, but all of humanity from a terrible threat. And such a decision is obvious - to move plutonium stocks into the premises of the stopped production facilities of the Mining and Chemical Combine (Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk Territory) located deep underground. This will ensure that the content is protected from all foreseeable threats. And the economic and reputational costs will be insignificant in comparison with the possible consequences.
In conclusion, let me paraphrase a famous aphorism:
“If you are not engaged in plutonium, then plutonium will take care of you”.
In the end, the reaction of the authorities to this publication will demonstrate the real measure of responsibility of the Russian authorities not only to the population and descendants of the country, but also to all of humanity.
Independent expert on issues of radiation and nuclear safety, a participant in the aftermath of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, a veteran of the IEP
PS About this issue 1 February this year. The relevant appeal was transmitted to the President of the Russian Federation. His resolution also appeared:
In connection with the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant 24 in March of this year. A repeated appeal was sent to the website of the President of the Russian Federation “On the immediate relocation of plutonium stored at the Mayak plant, with a brief description of the problem.
A month later, I received an “answer” from the General Directorate of the Emergencies Ministry in the Chelyabinsk region.
It would not make sense to comment on this creation of officials if it affected a not too serious problem. However, due to the extreme nature of the issue of concentrating an insane amount of plutonium in the absence of physical protection, it suffices to note that the reply does not provide a single answer to any of the questions posed in the appeal.
What remains to hope with such an attitude towards the implementation of presidential orders ?! Get over to Australia?
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