New nuclear reactor in Dmitrovgrad can bring threat to extensive surrounding area

Mihail Piskunov

Russian NGOs, members of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union, oppose placing a new major research nuclear reactor in the Volga region. The NGOs prepared the Report with evidence of the project risks and presented it at public hearings on August 26 in Dmitrovgrad.

Russian environmental NGOs, members of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union, including "Center for Support of Civil Initiatives", the initiative group "For nuclear-free Volga", and Antinuclear society of Tatarstan, have prepared the Report with evidence of the project risks related to placing a large research reactor in Dmitrovgrad, the Volga region. They submitted this Report for subsequent consideration on 26 August in Dimitrovgrad, at public hearings on the reactor. This document is also posted on www.atomno.ru, the website of the initiative group "For nuclear-free Volga".

The multi-purpose research reactor is planned to be placed on the industrial site of the Research Institute for Atomic Reactors, Dimitrovgrad, located near the city. The NGOs concluded in the Report that the new special radiation-dangerous object poses a serious threat to the environment and the people of the Volga region, and therefore proposed to adopt a "zero variant" - to decline the project.

The Report of the environmental NGOs presented a number of important arguments that show high risk level of the planned reactor. Thus, its fuel will contain plutonium-239 with half-life of approximately 24 thousand years. For humans, this substance is fatal even in microdoses. Additionally, the reactor coolant will be sodium, which is very dangerous. Only at the public hearings, NGO activists managed to find out that the total amount of sodium in the first and second reactor circuits will be about 70 cubic meters. This is extremely dangerous, as even a few grams of sodium in contact with water causes a mini explosion and fire. Combination of plutonium and sodium creates conditions under which, in case of beyond design basis accident at the reactor, Dimitrovgrad can become a dead city, like Pripyat and Fukushima, for many years. Other cities in the Volga region may be seriously affected too.