MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – Political decisions should not dictate a switch from Russian to American nuclear fuel at Ukrainian power plants as the safe operation of the facilities is at stake, the head of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said Thursday.
“There is an absolute right for each company to decide who it should buy fuel from, and political decisions should not have any influence [on that right],” Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko said at a nuclear power safety conference in Moscow.
Russia is closely monitoring the possible use of US-produced nuclear fuel at Ukrainian nuclear power plants, he added, noting that fuel sourced from American nuclear fuel company Westinghouse had earlier dangerously malfunctioned at power plants in the Czech Republic and Ukraine.
Kirienko said that if Russia were in the position of buying nuclear fuel from abroad "all contract discussions would have ended" the moment such a failure occurred.
A Czech nuclear power plant operating Soviet-designed reactors experienced depressurization with the Westinghouse fuel, leading to the suspension of further cooperation with the company.
Scheduled maintenance check-ups at a nuclear power plant in South Ukraine over the last two years uncovered technical issues with the US-produced fuel assembly, attributed to Westinghouse design flaws. The losses to the Ukrainian Energoatom company due to the incident topped $175 million.