Warning in Ukraine about Chernobyl 2.0
Ukraine’s outdated energy infrastructure could struggle to cope with the simultaneous firing of all its nuclear power plants at the same time, with the strain increasing the risk of dire consequences akin to the Soviet-era Chernobyl disaster, one of the Eastern European nation’s veteran politicians has warned.
Speaking on Ukrainian TV Channel ‘Nash’ on Monday, Gennady Moskal, the former head of both the Lugansk and Transcarpathian regions, poured scorn on state enterprise Energoatom’s recent decision to bring all of its 15 nuclear power units online simultaneously for the first time in history.
“I pray we get through the heating season so we don’t get some kind of Chernobyl,” he said. “Don’t boast, dear people, God willing, Energoatom will survive.”
Moskal also advised fellow citizens to “go to church and light a candle in order to survive this winter, and that the power units do not go haywire with such consequences that were in Chernobyl,” referring to the explosion of Reactor 4 at the power plant on April 26, 1986.
The disaster, which has been described as the world’s worst nuclear accident, occurred during the Soviet era. Tens of thousands of people were displaced as a result of the incident and the government implemented a 30-kilometer-radius exclusion zone.
While the United Nations has previously estimated that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster, the organization predicted in 2005 that a further 4,000 people may eventually die as a result of radiation exposure. Marking the 30th anniversary of the incident, Greenpeace said in 2016 that the Chernobyl explosion “caused irreversible damage to the environment that will last for thousands of years.”
Moskal’s remarks come as Ukrainian politicians have voiced concern over the country’s dependence on Russian gas and energy imports. In November, Kiev’s former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, who now sits as an opposition MP, warned that “all of the essentials needed for the heating period have not been provided, which means that we have been practically brought to our knees.”
“The whole government should count on prayers that Ukraine won’t be plunged into -10 degrees or lower this winter,” she said.