Ukraine's regulatory chief ousted

17 October 2014

Ukraine dismissed 39 high-ranking officials yesterday as a new law on "power purification" came into effect.

According to local newspaper Kyiv Post, the list includes the first deputy head of Ukraine's State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate (SNRI), Mikhail Gashev.

Gashev was critical of Westinghouse-made nuclear fuel assemblies used in Ukrainian reactors, claiming that they were defective. Westinghouse maintained that errors had been made during fuel loading.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear power reactors at four sites (Khmelnitsky, Rovno, South Ukraine and Zaporozhe), all operated by Energoatom. All the units are Russian VVER types, two being 440 MWe models and the rest larger 1000 MWe units. Between them, the plants provide almost half of the country's electricity.

Westinghouse had signed a fuel supply contract with Energoatom in 2008. Through that contract, Westinghouse supplied a total of 630 nuclear fuel assemblies to the three VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors at the South Ukraine plant.

On 11 April, Energoatom extended its nuclear fuel supply contract with Westinghouse through to 2020. Westinghouse president and CEO Danny Roderick said then that the new long-term contract for the company's VVER fuel testified to the quality of its fuel design and demonstrated that it had operated without issue at the South Ukraine plant.

On 24 September, Gashev announced that he had given the go-ahead to shipments of Westinghouse nuclear fuel to Ukrainian reactors, according to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS. Westinghouse produces the fuel at its fabrication facility in Västerås in Sweden.

New law

In announcing the removal of 39 officials yesterday, prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said ministers can be dismissed only by parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, while first deputy ministers, heads of state agencies, heads of government departments and other central executive bodies can be dismissed by the country's Cabinet of Ministers.

Yatsenyuk’s administration took charge of Ukraine in February after pro-European street protests prompted President Viktor Yanukovych to leave the country.

In a statement on the government's website, Yatsenyuk said that of the 39 officials, 19 had voluntarily tendered their resignation and 20 would be fired under the terms of the new law. The statement did not give the names of the officials, who Yatsenyuk said would be banned from working for a government department or agency for ten years.

He stressed that yesterday's action was "only the first stage" in the implementation of the law. The "second wave of checks" involves the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Fiscal Service, the Security Service, the Attorney General, and the Prosecutor General.

These first two rounds of "inspections" will be completed by February 2015, he said.

A third wave involves judges, of which, he said, Ukraine has 9000, and will take place between December this year and December 2015.

"Checks" will be carried out on first deputy and deputy ministers between March 2015 and May 2016, on regional officials between April 2015 and June 2016, on local non-elected officials between June 2015 and December 2016, and on military officials between September 2015 and December 2016.

"We need a new quality of public service, new people who are professional, honest, credible – and let them earn credibility – and who do not have the burden of the corruption of the past, which is inherent in the public services, the judiciary, the police and the prosecution authorities," Yatsenyuk said.

It will be difficult to replace the experts who have been dismissed, he added. "But it is impossible to leave things as they are because that is a road to nowhere."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News