A year has passed after the Chernobyl accident. At the end of 1987, the main regulatory body of the country reported to the management about the next results of its activities …
“…. According to the data available in the Office of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR for Kiev and the Kiev region, the situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and in the exclusion zone was generally stable for the reporting period. The administration and personnel of the station, the production plant “Combine”, specialists involved in the liquidation of the consequences of the accident, took organizational and technical measures for:
- maintenance of operation of the 1st and 2nd power units,
- preparation for launching the 3rd power units,
- monitoring the state of the Shelter object,
- decontamination of the surrounding area,
- the construction of the city of Slavutich.
At the same time, incoming intelligence data indicate the presence of a number of unresolved problems and difficulties at the facility and in its surroundings at the Slavutich construction that have a negative impact on the quality and effectiveness of the measures taken.
There is no control on personnel exposure
The radiation situation in the zone has not changed significantly. Slight fluctuations in the radioactivity of air, soil and water are noted, mainly due to natural factors. The radioactivity of the air did not exceed the permissible concentration of radionuclides in the territory immediately adjacent to the nuclear power plant. At the most “tense point” – on the site of an open switchgear, it ranged from 5.5×10–13 curie per liter, on the Pripyat ABK road – 1.6×10-14, in remote areas of the zone below – 1×10-16 curie per liter.
The facts were revealed in the process of dosimetric control of personnel and equipment at the exit from the 30-kilometer zone, when the contamination of clothing and vehicles significantly exceeded acceptable levels. Beta contamination with active particles of uniforms, personal belongings, bedding, military personnel tents is from 100 to 20,000 particles / cm2 min. More than 140 cars that have a gamma background pollution level of 0.2 to 3 mr / h were identified only at the “Dityatki” checkpoint.
These facts indicate the insufficient effectiveness of preventive measures taken by the administration to reduce personnel exposure and poor monitoring of compliance with personal radiation safety standards. On the part of the management of organizations operating in the zone, strict control over the wearing of dosimeters by subordinates is not ensured.
The facts of exceeding the permissible dose of radiation by employees are not investigated. For the reporting period, doses of more than 25 rem, the level that is considered as potentially dangerous, received 23 people. Timely and thorough investigation of significant over-exposure should help to identify the true causes of high gamma fields in a number of areas and eliminate them.
Information about the unfavorable radiation situation in the city of Slavutich, the insufficient effectiveness of preventive measures to reduce the radioactive contamination of clothing, vehicles, homes, etc. is partially known to people working in the zone, which can lead to social unrest.
The Scientific and Technical Council – views differed
On June 11 of the following year, The Scientific and Technical Council of the scientific center of the USSR Ministry of Defense took place in the city of Chernobyl with the participation of representatives of interested departments on the topic: “Dynamics of the radiation situation over the year and problems of decontamination.”
In the speeches of representatives of the Ministry of Defense, a number of academic institutes, an opinion was expressed about the inappropriateness of further decontamination work due to their low efficiency, significant human and material costs. The management of the Combine Production Association and the Chernobyl employees insist on continuing the work.
15 radioactive waste disposal facilities were equipped in the zone during the liquidation of the consequences of the accident. The complexity of the situation of the past year did not allow in some cases to equip them in accordance with the requirements of the radiation environment, because sometimes it was just used natural recesses (ravines, etc.).
However, the problem of monitoring the state of disposal sites, as well as studying their impact on the environment, primarily groundwater, which may become the main factor in the removal of radioactive substances from the zone, has not been completely resolved to date.
The Council decided to come up with a proposal to the governing bodies to conduct a thorough study of this issue with the involvement of all interested departments for a final decision.
The 4th power unit: status is not defined
Monitoring of the state of the 4th block and the Shelter facility continues. A fairly stable decrease in the controlled parameters is recorded. A commission from among the representatives of the Ministry of Atomic Energy and the Ministry of Environment of the USSR Academy of Sciences conducted a study of the state of the block and its control, based on which it was concluded that detailed studies were necessary to determine the status of the Shelter facility.
There are proposals to classify it as “a critical project”, “radioactive waste repository”, or “a new type of nuclear hazardous facility”. Despite the complexity of the situation, the deadline for making the final decision is 1988-1989. However, according to experts, it is necessary to develop measures to maximize the concentration of efforts in order to accelerate the consideration of this issue.
At the same time, measures must be taken to ensure control over the state of the mass of the reactor by scientifically sound selection of control points. The existing block diagnostic system does not fully provide information on the state of the mass of the collapse in case of a change in the situation (ingress of a large amount of moisture, seismic effects, accidental movement of masses). The collapse irrigation system with boron solution, which so far can only perform preventive functions, needs to be improved.
The 3rd power unit: is the launch impractical?
Repair and restoration work continued at the 3rd power unit over the past period. Of 1164 premises, 1146 decontamination was completed. Inspection, repair and replacement of the main and auxiliary equipment is underway.
However, a number of technical difficulties, which had a restraining effect on the timing and quality of work, arose in the process of repair. This primarily concerns the replacement of both technological channels, and the elimination of defects in drum separators, multiple forced circulation circuits, and water equalization pipelines.
The problem of replacing individual units and devices, in particular along the gas circuit, has not been resolved due to the lack of necessary supplies.
The pace and quality of work are negatively affected by the lack of qualified personnel, who should be regularly taken on vacation due to significant dose loads.
Among the engineering and technical personnel of the plant and the Combine Production Association, opinions continue to be expressed on the inexpediency of starting up the third unit. The following are the main arguments:
- difficulty, and in some cases the impossibility of ensuring high-quality repair and restoration work;
- significant dose costs, despite the decontamination carried out, for maintenance personnel, which creates difficulties in staffing shifts with qualified personnel;
- the relatively high levels of fields in the premises of the unit will lead to violations of the operating regulations of equipment due to the reluctance of personnel to visit these places frequently.
EMO 1 and 2: operational violations continue
During operation of power units 1 and 2 over the past period, facts have been identified that indicate ongoing violations of the requirements of the technological discipline and an insufficient level of control over its state by the management.
During this time, there were more than 10 emergency shutdowns and reduced power of reactors, including due to vibration of bearings and a malfunction of the speed control system of generators № 3 and 4, automatic protection tripping AZ-1 and AZ-2 at unit № 1, turning on the main safety valves on generator № 3.
These and other shortcomings indicate a low quality of repair and reconstruction work in preparing the reactors for start-up, as well as during the shutdown of the 2nd unit for scheduled repairs. This is evidenced by the fact of the wrong actions of the senior engineer of the control unit V.V.Astakhov, which led to a partial dehydration of the active zone, which is under repair of the 1st unit.
The current situation requires the adoption of additional measures to tighten technological discipline, strengthen control over the work carried out by shift managers, workshops, and station management. To ensure the normal operation of units 1 and 2, measures should first be taken to improve the radiation situation in the central halls.
Low organization of labor leads to unjustified risks
More than 39 thousand military personnel and civilian personnel were involved in the aftermath of the accident in the zone. However, a significant number of people in the zone are not used for their intended purpose due to the lack of clear organization of labor, significant distractions from work not directly related to the accident. These circumstances lead to a decrease in the pace of work and unjustified re-irradiation of personnel.
The construction of Slavutich is ongoing. According to experts, the pace and quality of the work performed are negatively affected by the lack of reinforced concrete structures, concrete, brick, large-diameter pipes, frequent interruptions in the supply of electricity. In this regard, the technological sequence of work and building codes are not respected in a number of areas. First of all, this applies to plumbing and heat lines.
Foreigners are very inquisitive
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the adjacent area are regularly visited by representatives of the media and experts from Western countries. Since December 1986, more than 160 foreigners have visited the zone.
They make persistent attempts to collect information in the process of communicating with Soviet specialists:
- the consequences of the accident and the measures taken to eliminate it,
- the results of scientific research conducted in the zone,
- the state of the moral and psychological situation in collectives,
- material costs,
- the prospects of using RBMK reactors and the development of nuclear energy, etc.
In addition, their frequent arrivals lead to a distraction of the management and personnel of the plant and the Combine Production Complex from performing their immediate duties in difficult conditions.
The KGB Directorate, in collaboration with the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the administration, is taking measures to ensure access to the zone, station security, and the secrecy of research conducted by the Ministry and the USSR Academy of Sciences. At the same time, it is necessary to resolve the issue of accelerating the construction of engineering protective equipment along the perimeter of the second stage, access to which is currently practically limited for persons working at the station.
Caring for people – there are many questions
The problem of the residents of the region who have independently evacuated to the 30-kilometer zone, which currently numbers more than 500 people, is not resolved. The moral and political situation in the staff of the station, Production Association Combine, other organizations and institutions working in the zone is normal.
Among the issues that cause the greatest interest from employees, the following can be highlighted:
- dissatisfaction with the state of medical care in the area;
- the prospect of abandoning the shift method of work, because it reduces the responsibility for the quality of health monitoring.
Workers are asked to relocate one canteen to Zeleny Mys to provide nutrition to those on a diet. Most employees who intend to move to Slavutich are interested in the possibility of obtaining an official opinion of the USSR Ministry of Health on the safety of staying in a newly built city, especially for children. A certain part of the staff is interested in receiving information about the prospects of maintaining benefits in payment.
Among the builders of the city of Slavutich, the greatest concern is caused by the shortcomings in the work of trade enterprises and the service sector. There are complaints about the poor quality of food, as well as the operation of transport. Most builders are not satisfied with the solution of the issue of providing them with housing, as well as various benefits in remuneration”.