The US's Westinghouse, 100% owned by Japan's Toshiba, will be selling more nuclear fuel to nuclear power plants in Ukraine to make up for the potential supply disruption from Russia.
Never mind that Russian Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin warns on his Facebook (link from Huffington Post Japan article) about a danger of using the US-made nuclear fuel in the Russian-made nuclear reactors in Ukraine.
As the FT article below quotes the vice president of Westinghouse, Ukraine is now the third largest nuclear power operator in Europe after France and the UK, with 50% of electricity from nuclear power.
From Financial Times (4/11/2014; emphasis is mine):
Westinghouse extends nuclear fuel deal with Ukraine
Westinghouse Electric Company has extended a contract with Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator, to supply fuel to plants until 2020.
The deal struck on Friday, valued at between $100m and $200m, will see the Toshiba-owned company supply 15 annual fuel supplies for initially two reactors, easing Ukraine’s dependence on Russia for fuel supplies as disputes between the two countries rumble on.
Russia has raised natural gas prices to Ukraine by 80 per cent and threatened to cut supplies altogether. This has left the government in Kiev to seek alternatives in order to diversify fuel supplies in its energy inefficient economy, as talks on importing gas from European markets via Slovakia drag on.
Mike Kirst, Westinghouse vice-president, said the group aims to be providing “roughly 20-25 per cent of Ukrainian nuclear fuel supply through 2020”.
The first supplies will be shipped to the South Ukraine nuclear power plant. Supplies to other Ukrainian nuclear reactors currently burning fuel from Russia’s TVEL will follow.
Mr Kirst described the deal as a “milestone” for Ukraine and Westinghouse.
“This contract would represent roughly between 5-10 per cent of our European fuel business. When you talk about a fleet of reactors that are 15, it could [reach] 20-25 per cent” of our business in Europe, he said.
Citing Ukrainian officials, Mr Kirst said Westinghouse fuel had proven less expensive for Ukraine “if you factor in” price and efficiency.
For Westinghouse, Ukraine is a big market. Mr Kirst added: “Ukraine is the third largest nuclear power civilian operator in Europe. France is number one. The UK number two. Now that the Germans have shut off much of their reactors, Ukraine moves into third. It is literally one of the largest markets in Europe, and very reliant on nuclear fuel getting about 50 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power.”
Here's The Voice of Russia, warning against Westinghouse's nuclear fuel (4/11/2014; emphasis is mine):
The use of US-made fuel in Ukrainian reactors may lead to 15 Chernobyl disasters at a time
Kiev is reducing cooperation with Russia in the field of nuclear power production and is going to sign a contract with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation of the United States for nuclear fuel supplies. Flaws have been repeatedly detected in Westinghouse-made fuel assemblies. Experts believe that the use of such assemblies will make Ukrainian nuclear reactors less reliable and may pose a threat to Ukraine’s nuclear safety.
Ukraine’s new authorities have clearly decided to ratchet down Kiev’s dependence on Russian nuclear fuel supplies and sign a contract to that end with the Westinghouse Corporation. But the move may result in a manmade disaster in Ukraine, since the nuclear power plants in Ukraine have been built from Soviet design an can safely operate only on the fuel made in the Russian city Elektrostal, says Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Natural Resources, Maxim Shingarkin, and elaborates.
"Every single reactor is normally built on the assumption that it will consume the nuclear fuel with specific characteristics, such as the amount of highly enriched uranium and certain thermal response. Any deviation may result in a nuclear accident. We can get as many as 15 Chernobyl disasters at a time, with a danger of such a scale to Ukraine, Russia and Europe that the entire world’s civilization will fail to cope with them".
Ukraine already signed a contract with Westinghouse, five years ago to be exact. US-made fuel assemblies caused problems in two generating units in less than a year. The assemblies began to bend themselves due to design flaws. But Ukraine managed to avoid a nuclear disaster then. Ukraine banned the Westinghouse-made nuclear rods from loading into its reactors. But the people currently at the helm in Kiev seem to be prepared to ignore the negative experience of using US-made fuel assemblies and to have them loaded into as many as three reactors at a time. This runs counter to the international nuclear safety and security standards, says the Chairman of the International Union of Atomic Energy and Industry Veterans, Evgeniy Akimov, and elaborates.
"This kind of experiment was made several years ago when Ukraine and the Czech Republic attempted to use US-made nuclear fuel rods. The results proved negative in both cases. The rods were removed, and the plants resumed the use of Russian-made fuel".
The use of Westinghouse-made fuel in Ukraine may put out Ukrainian reactors out of operation, prompt a discharge of radioactive substances into the atmosphere, cause the whole of Ukraine’s electric power production system to collapse and trigger and environmental catastrophe in Ukraine and beyond.
The Voice of Russia may be exaggerating, for the fear (if there is fear on their part) of losing the nuclear fuel business in Ukraine. But Mr. Maxim Shingarkin's comment above rings true.