Going nuclear for the election

15 January 2010

As Ukraine's presidential election approaches, hopeful candidate Yulia Tymoshenko has embarked on a remarkable pro-nuclear campaigning spree.


Tymoshenko with Tyhryulya
One of Yulia Tymoshenko's
campaign posters. This white
tiger cub, dubbed Tyhrulya,
has become her mascot

Earlier this week Tymoshenko, who is the current prime minister, paid a visit to the nuclear-industrial complex in the Zaporizhzh oblast, which contains a six-reactor nuclear power plant and a store for used nuclear fuel. Addressing locals she promised a 30% payrise for power sector workers - as well as bonuses for highly qualified personnel with special skills.


And in case that hadn't won over nuclear workers to her side, she followed up on infrastructure. One pledge was to complete the Khmelnitsky 3 and 4 reactors by 2015, one and two years early with respect to schedules announced in September 2008.


Another promise was to create a domestic nuclear fuel production complex, a 'complete closed complex' including subsidiaries responsible for raw materials such as uranium. This should be done by 2012, Tymoshenko said, at a cost of $200 million. The country has created a reserve of nuclear fuel sufficient to cover one year's need, she added, putting a value of 2 billion hryvnias ($250 million) on the stockpile.


While new build projects and increased security of supply are longstanding goals of Ukrainian energy policy, and most politicians become highly optimistic when seeking votes, it is notable that Ukraine is one of the rare places where they can draw favour from pro-nuclear sentiment.


Nuclear power enjoys wide support in Ukraine, where it supplies about half of electricity. Some 15 reactors are in operation at four sites, while three shut down at Chernobyl after the destruction of unit 4 there.


Despite being the only country ever to suffer a civil nuclear accident of that scale, Ukraine went on to replace the lost Chernobyl capacity by completing stalled reactor projects at Khmelnitsky and Rovno. Six new large reactors are proposed to begin construction in this decade and long-term plans see new reactors coming online every year or two into the 2030s.


Tymoshenko is one of the most favoured candidates, together with previous presidential runner-up Viktor Yanukovyvh. Current President Viktor Yuschenko is expected only to gather a few percent in the 17 January poll.


Researched and written
by World Nuclear News