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Another Catastrophe Possible at Chernobyl Power Plant?

News agencies have been reporting contradictory information on the issue

The administration of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has repeatedly rejected rumors about an alleged state of emergency that had occurred at the plant. Ukrainian news agencies UNIAN and Obozrevatel reported with reference to an informed source (and the source referred to the information from the plant's administration), a state of emergency took place at the Chernobyl plant on July 8th. During the visit of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development's delegation, the personnel of the nuclear plant had to activate the system to stop the nuclear chain reaction in the destroyed reactor. The activation of the emergency system was allegedly caused with the data displayed on one of the devices of the neutron flux control in the destroyed reactor, which might have testified to the strengthening of the chain reaction.

It was also reported, the emergency system was activated for about 30 minutes, "six cubic meters of liquid neutron absorber were poured in the reactor during that time." It seems, the administration of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant does not reject the fact of the incident, but explains it with the need to perform certain procedures according to the displayed data. However, the administration also said, the chain reaction had not been strengthened - it was a malfunction of a controlling device.

News agencies have been providing rather contradictory information about the incident. Interfax-Ukraine reported, there had been no incidents registered at the power station, and all sensors did not register any increase of the radiation background." The information about a state of emergency at the Chernobyl nuclear plant was called "a complete technical nonsense," because "after the breakdown in April of 1986, the fuel in the destroyed reactor was mixed with sand and lead, and became a fritted mass, in which a chain reaction was not possible to occur." Russian experts stick to the same opinion. RIA Novosti news agency reported, director of the International Center for the Ecological Security of the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Power, Albert Vasilyev rejected an opportunity of an explosion at the plant. After the tragedy of 1986, the reactor of the fourth power generating unit was flooded, and "the correlation of water and fuel excludes a possibility of an explosion." Yet, Vasilyev said, the administration of the nuclear plant had made a hasty decision to shut down the third unit.

Outburst of the nuclear panic have hit Ukraine several times over a short period of time, and the Chernobyl power plant is the main trouble. The opposition parliamentary faction of the Ukrainian Socialistic Party has even released an official statement, in which it was said that another nuclear catastrophe might happen on the Chernobyl plant. The faction demanded the government should tell the truth about the situation at the plant. Party's leader Alexander Moroz set out his concern about the technical condition of the sarcophagus, which had been built for the period of 20 years (it has been used for 17 years already). Moroz accused the Ukrainian president and the government of criminal inaction. The politician said, the Ukrainian government, "being aware of a possible catastrophe, was not taking any measures to prevent it." After such statements, the administration of the nuclear plant acknowledged, the condition of several constructions on the object called Ukrytiye (Shelter) was rather poor. However, there has been a certain progress achieved recently in the solution of the sarcophagus problem. On July 9th, the administration of the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the nuclear department of the EBRD signed a grant agreement within the scope of the SIP plan. According to the signed document, Ukraine will receive the grant of 75 million euros for stabilization works at the object Ukrytiye. Ukrainian business information network LigaBusinessInform reported, the Ukrainian Ministry for Fuel and Energy said, the grant "was the first part of 750 million euros that the EBRD was planning to assign for the construction of the new sarcophagus at the Chernobyl power plant.