Next leak at reactor can escape timely notice, warns expert

Take note – story published 9 years and 5 months ago

Though Latvia has resolved to liquidate the radioactive pollution from the Salaspils nuclear reactor, this isn’t happening, and short-term solutions are sought only when accidents have already taken place, University of Latvia Pro-Rector Indriķis Muižnieks told Latvian Radio in an interview Wednesday.

The recent leak of radioactive water from the facility was caught in time and further environmental impacts averted. However, if the required €5m for bringing the reactor to completely safe order are not found, the next leak there might not be as promptly detected, and then the risks increase tremendously.

“If we hadn’t caught that leak in time, the radioactivity would have seeped into deeper groundwaters. Then there are two bad-case scenarios. Either it seeps slowly into the adjacent limestone quarries used by (construction materials firm) Knauf, contaminating their product source. Then the losses would have to be compensated. Or worse yet – it gets into the drinking water supply and then there are gigantic problems with the restructuring of the whole water supply system, and most likely the appearance of some health problems,” one of the land’s top scientists spelled out the worrisome possibilities.

The leak, though small, came from radioactive water which had percolated through a stainless steel tank at the outdated facility on the outskirts of Rīga.

In 2008 spent fuel from the Salaspils nuclear reactor was exported to Russia, but work on dismantling the Soviet-era facility continues and is due to be completed in 2015.


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