In a study for the Energy Research & Social Science scientific journal the world’s leading scientists predict an 80% probability of a major nuclear accident at one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants in the coming years, announced the Tsargrad television channel. Tsargrad is a monarchist site affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia’s security services. This new doomsday prediction was aired on the anniversary of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.
Tsargrad conducted its own “investigation” about the current state of affairs at Ukrainian nuclear power plants and came to the conclusion that “Ukraine cannot escape a second Chornobyl”. Claiming that fires occur constantly at Ukraine’s atomic plants, Tsargrad declares that western experts are sounding the alarm about the dangers of nuclear energy in Ukraine.
Tsargrad’s story starts with the claim that the third power unit of the Rivne nuclear power plant autotransformer was allegedly damaged on April 29 leading to a fire that lasted over an hour and the eventual shutdown of the unit.
There was no fire at the Rivne nuclear plant. On the evening of April 29 a shutdown did occur, but it had nothing to do with Tsargrad’s mythical fire. According to the Rivne Plant management, the stop occurred because of an erroneous protection signal about the loss of turbogenerator power . This event was so insignificant that it is not even classified as an incident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
A fire near the third unit at the Rivne power plant was indeed recorded, but a year earlier in 2019 when a distribution station transformer located outside the unit on the street caught fire. The blaze was put out within the hour and according to the International Nuclear Event Scale of the severity of the incident was zero, a situation that does not pose a threat to people or to the nuclear power plant.
Another fake that Tsargrad pedals in this story is that on April 16 of this year the Rivne third block reactor completely lost power. Power did decrease on this block on that day but the decrease was due to the shutdown of the main circulating pump and this happened in April 2019 and not 2020, and once again the severity of the incident rated a whole zero.
But the most egregious fake claim in this Tsargrad non-story is the claim that Western scientist are predicting that there is an 80% probability of another nuclear accident in Ukraine. Tsargrad refers to an alleged study published in the Energy Research & Social Science journal without citing the study itself, who conducted it and when. This fake has been circulating in Russian media since 2017 without direct reference to Energy Research & Social Science but rather to an Italian video from the Gli occhi della Guerra (The Eyes of War) site, a media outlet that specializes in the coverage of conflicts. This video has become the primary source of fake information about “the coming accident in Ukraine’s nuclear industry”. Gli Occhi della Guerra is a pro-Russian video site that that has been spotted purveying fake information. It actively pushes the Kremlin line in Italy, using anti-Ukrainian rhetoric and supporting Russian aggression in Ukraine.
In fact Energy Research and Social Science, the scientific journal that Tsargrad cites did actually publish a study called Reassessing the Safety of Nuclear Energy back in 2016 in which recent statistical analyses of 216 nuclear energy accidents and incidents are summarized. The study authors conclude that the rate of civil nuclear accidents over time since 1952 decreased significantly from the 1970s, reaching what appears to be a stable level of around 0.003 events per plant per year…. We find concrete evidence of a history of learning from previous accidents within the industry, especially the significant reduction in event frequency after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.” The study does not contain any other references to Ukraine nor any claim that 80% of major nuclear accidents take place in Ukrainian power plants”. This is just another example of Ukraine bashing by Russia’s propaganda machine.