Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Russian leading business magazine 'Expert' reported on February 4, that Italian Enel may invest into construction of a nuclear power plant in the Russian region of Kaliningrad. According to the magazine, Enel and Russian 'Inter RAO' are in talks to set up a joint company to build two VVER-1200 nuclear reactors nearby the border of Kaliningrad and Lithuania. Lithuania is a member of the European Union. Both companies are not commenting on the issue presently. 'Inter RAO' is a Russian company dedicated to find EU-customers for electricity from Russian nuclear reactors. State-owned nuclear corporation 'Rosatom' (previously known as Minatom) owns 57,3% of 'Inter RAO' shares.

WISE Kaliningrad - This Baltic nuclear power plant was heavily criticized by environmental groups in 2009 when 'Rosatom' held public hearings on the construction of the reactors in Kaliningrad region. According to activists, the construction site is not appropriate, for instance because underground water is near surface while it must be at least 40 meters lower. The design of the reactor is new and has no confirmed safety record. Radioactive releases from the nuclear plant may affect the Neman River which runs to the Baltic Sea. The Baltic nuclear plant will be located right under an international airway but developers of the reactor design said they never analyzed the sustainability of the reactor in case of large airplane crash. Modelling was done only for a relatively small (up to 20 tons) airplane crash.

Furthermore the project of the Baltic nuclear power plant doesn’t have any realistic plan on nuclear waste disposal. According to the environmental impact assessment of the Baltic nuclear power project, done by a company owned by “Rosatom”, spent nuclear fuel will be transported out of the Kaliningrad region to a reprocessing plant. At the same time, there is no reprocessing plant in Russia which would be able to reprocess spent fuel from a VVER-1200.

An opinion poll conducted in 2007 demonstrated that 67% of local residents in Kaliningrad where opposed to the construction of the nuclear plant. Moreover, the region will fully cover its entiry electricity needs by 2013, according to the investment' plans of the local government, while the first reactor may go on-line in 2016 at the earliest. It is therefor likely that 100% of the electricity produced by the reactors will be for export, while local residents will take the risks related to reactor accidents and radiation leakages from the storage of nuclear waste.

According to 'Rosatom', the two reactors will cost around Euro 6 billion. According to 'Inter RAO', the price may increase up to Euro 9 billion including costs of additional infrastructure.

Source and contact: WISE Kaliningrad