By the anniversary of Chernobyl disaster utilities’ teams are ennobling the way to the Exclusion Zone. Not because it needs it more than the other Ukrainian roads, but simply because - according to the famous Russian writer Griboedov - "the Auditor is coming".
The President and the officials of lower rank are going to visit the Nuclear Power Plant. So, in honor of this event everything is being put into order - including a show with the so called conditional “grass painting”. This means that in 30 years, little has changed. Only the trees have become higher.
According to official figures, Chernobyl disaster claimed the lives of about 600,000 people. Official documents classify the victims of the accident into several categories. For example, the largest group - 200-240 thousand people - consists of the liquidators (rescuers, soldiers, carrying out the works on cleaning up harmful emissions, firefighters and police officers). The next group - about 116 thousand people - includes the residents of the areas surrounding Chernobyl. Another 220,000 people were evacuated later from the contaminated areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. However, to this day about 5 million people still live on the contaminated land.
In the book "Chernobyl Disaster", which was published in 1995, the scientists form the Academy of Sciences tried to calculate the material damage caused by the Chernobyl tragedy. They announced to the public the sum of 200 billion rubles (in prices as of the 1st January, 1990). It is about 110 billion dollars. And it was calculated only for the period from 1990 to 1995. As a President, Viktor Yanukovych said that in 25 years $ 25 billion were allocated in order to eliminate the consequences of the accident. This fact, of course, concerns only the budget money, without taking into account the indirect costs (eg, for the treatment of people coming from the Zone).
The failure to receive possible benefits from the Zone can be counted as well. According to official data, 180 thousand hectares of arable land and 157 thousand hectars of forests were withdrawn from use. The losses from this are estimated at the level of annual 1.5-2 billion. Thus, during the years of independence, Ukraine did not receive from 37 to 50 billion dollars. But they are received by those who are admitted to this resource. In 2004, a scandal erupted with the disappearance of donor funds allocated for the elimination of the consequences of Chernobyl disaster. The help was irrevocable, 100 million hryvnia (at the exchange rate at the time of the incident - 20 million dollars) evaporated, the workers engaged in construction, did not received a penny. To the companies which were supplying materials, the debt was partially paid off later. And not to every company. And all the process of paying of was done - once again - at the expense of the new aid portion: money were provided by the French company "Fromatom". After that scandal, the thieves behaved more accurately, but it does not mean that all the money went for the purpose.
So it happened, that the management of structures in charge of all activities in Chernobyl Zone, sees the territory as their ancestral lands, which can be uncontrollably “milked”. There is the level of "stealing" of donor financial assistance and the budget means, and there is a lower level, for example, the racket “protection” of selling forests and the contaminated metal in scrap. Once, ex-minister of Ecology Igor Shevchenko in the live broadcasting of the NTN admitted that, in general, he was aware of the deforestation and other frauds. But, he said, this issue must be addressed by the Management Agency of the Exclusion Zone. And the things do not go smoothly with it. The former Head of the Agency Yuri Antipov was dismissed by Yatsenyuk. Allegedly, the official did not fulfill the "clear instructions" of the Premiere to restore order in Chernobyl Zone. Later, Antipov stated that he voluntarily tendered his resignation, because "the government did not respond to his allegations of rampant corruption in the Exclusion Zone."
As a result, the bickering began in the Cabinet because of the candidates for the vacant post. Shevchenko offered Valeriy Kolyuh, allegedly, the right hand of "Party of Regions"’ Vladimir Sivkovych. And since this body disposes of a solid budget (1.5 billion hryvnia from the State Treasury in 2015, plus another billion in 2016 from the fund "Shelter" - a minimum of 1.54 billion euros), the politicians were concerned that the access to it will be in the hands of a man, who may have something to do with the Yanukovych people. Curiously, in general, the professionalism of the candidates is not being discussed at all. And this is probably the worst thing about Chernobyl issue. As a result, at the position of the Head of the Management Agency of Exclusion Zone they appointed the former Head of the Department of Economic Development and Coordination of Enterprises’ Activity "DUSi" Vitaly Petruk.
According to the nuclear engineer, participant of liquidation of the Chernobyl disaster, Anatoly Gritsak, the state of the nuclear power industry of Ukraine is of great concern: "The personnel involved into the management and control of the nuclear industry, is very distant from the nuclear sector problems. Recently, a person whom I know for 15 years was speaking on TV. He is very distant from the nuclear reactors, but he discusses the VVER advantages over the other types of nuclear reactors. And to my huge surprise, I learnt that he is the former executive Director of "Energoatom", who in the past was promoted and went to increase the number of Cabinet members.
Another example: I hear in live broadcasting how a PhD, who is directly related to nuclear reactors, confuses one of the fundamental concepts of physics of nuclear reactors: instant and fast neutrons. Probably, not without the participation of the nuclear lobby in Ukraine, such “experts” are appointed on the high positions in order to push their business projects, because it is easier to negotiate with them."
4 years ago, the then-Head of the State Management Agency for Exclusion Zone Vladimir Holosha promised that by the end of 2015 over the fourth reactor of the station a new arch will be erected- the so-called Safe Confinement, which is able to protect the current sarcophagus from radiation leaks for 100 years. No one believed it, and they were right in doing so. This promise was already the fourth since the start of the project "Shelter". And since that time, the date of the object’s delivery has been postponed yet once more for 2 years - until 2017.
By the way, the international observers, too, are not so innocent. Back in 2008, an audit of the project was held. It turned out that the building process was 7 years behind the schedule, because only 16% of financial means from the allocated money went directly to purpose. And everything else was used for payments for the services of incomprehensible "consultants", office rents, representation costs and other “necessary” things. The estimate price was inflated, but no good has been done. But in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) they claim that with reporting everything is all right. And formally, most likely it is the thruth. And we have the results of such an “order”: they are sadly obvious for everybody.
At one time, the first Director of the "Shelter" Vladimir Shcherbina talked a lot about the frauds with construction. He said, they tried to save on everything, using low-quality metals and cheap labor. Therefore, no one could guarantee that in the end the Shelter will be really safe. Another former Head of the project, Valentin Kupnyj, said that in 15 years the cost of construction has increased three times. At the same time, almost every Director who retires, accuses his followers of violations, but does not recognize his own fault.
The embezzlement of international aid could be left to the conscience of the perpetrators and law enforcement officers, who pointedly ignore the problem. If it were not for the hazard. After all, the history of the "Shelter", the scandal with storage of wasted nuclear fuel (which does not store anything), the strange behavior of the officials in a situation with the last year's fire - all they are the children of the same parents, Greed and Irresponsibility of the government. And we are not speaking only about the current political leaders but about phenomena in general. But with every change of the government, it is getting worse and worse.
The members of “Atomprofsoiuz” treat the issue of recruitment to the Agency skeptically. They say that the last professionals left somewhere in 2010. In addition, they consider unreasonable the fact of withdrawal of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant from the nuclear industry and its transfer - at first under the wing of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and then to the Management Agency. Because the decommissioning is not an emergency situation, it should be treated as a normal stage. Sooner or later, all nuclear facilities will be closed. Will it always be with the help of the governmental service on emergency situations?
In general, any introduction of the changes to the Zone is going on with enormous difficulties. Therefore, the talks about different projects - such as the creation of the reserve in the Exclusion Zone, the construction of the alternative energy sector or conversion of the Zone into a tourist Mecca - will be simply empty sounds in the air for a long time. As long as we finally have a full-fledged State strategy in Ukraine.Elena Rozwadowskaya, "Vector News"
Translated by Maria Kryzhanovska