Power cuts in Crimea as Ukrainian power supplies cut off again
Electricity supplies from Ukraine to Crimea delivered via the Kakhovka-Titan power line were cut off on Wednesday evening when a power protection system was triggered in Kakhovka, a town in the southern Ukraine, TASS reported. UkrEnergo said experts are trying to determine the reason for the shutdown. Meanwhile, the current contract to supply electricity from Ukraine to Crimea runs out on December 31. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said on Tuesday that the decision to extend the contract should be in the hands of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC). Sevastopol’s authorities have limited the use of electricity in response to the power cut. “Ukraine cut electricity supplies via the Kakhovka-Titan power line at 10:00 pm Moscow time [19:00 GMT] on December 30. We will switch to the three-over-three hour power usage schedule,” the local government said in a statement. Ukraine officials have not yet commented on the issue. (RT)
SAME STORY FROM BBC
Crimea power outage after pylon comes down
- 22 minutes ago
- From the sectionEurope
Electricity supplies to Crimea from southern Ukraine have been cut again after a pylon came down overnight.
Ukrainian electricity company Ukrenergo says it is investigating the cause of the incident.
In November all four high voltage power lines supplying energy to Crimea were cut by anti-Russian activists.
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Now, here’s what it all really means. With so much going wrong, the Ukraine has been unable to secure enough natural gas or coal supplies to provide a supply cushion in case of a cold snap this winter. A few weeks of frosty weather will deplete the supply, and then pipes will freeze, rendering much of the urban areas unlivable from then on (because, recall, there is no longer any money, or any industry to speak of, to repair the damage). That seems bad enough, but we aren’t quite there yet.
You see, the Ukraine produces over half of its electricity using nuclear power plants. 19 nuclear reactors are in operation, with 2 more supposedly under construction. And this is in a country whose economy is in free-fall and is set to approach that of Mali or Burundi! The nuclear fuel for these reactors was being supplied by Russia. An effort to replace the Russian supplier with Westinghouse failed because of quality issues leading to an accident. What is a bankrupt Ukraine, which just stiffed Russia on billions of sovereign debt, going to do when the time comes to refuel those 19 reactors? Good question!
But an even better question is, Will they even make it that far? You see, it has become known that these nuclear installations have been skimping on preventive maintenance, due to lack of funds. Now, you are probably already aware of this, but let me spell it out just in case: a nuclear reactor is not one of those things that you run until it breaks, and then call a mechanic once it does. It’s not a “if it ain’t broke, I can’t fix it” sort of scenario. It’s more of a “you missed a tune-up so I ain’t going near it” scenario. And the way to keep it from breaking is to replace all the bits that are listed on the replacement schedule no later than the dates indicated on that schedule. It’s either that or the thing goes “Ka-boom!” and everyone’s hair falls out.
How close is Ukraine to a major nuclear accident? Well, it turns out, very close: just recently one was narrowly avoided when some Ukro-Nazis blew up electric transmission lines supplying Crimea, triggering a blackout that lasted many days. The Russians scrambled and ran a transmission line from the Russian mainland, so now Crimea is lit up again. But while that was happening, the Southern Ukrainian, with its 4 energy blocks, lost its connection to the grid, and it was only the very swift, expert actions taken by the staff there that averted a nuclear accident.
I hope that you know this already, but, just in case, let me spell it out again. One of the worst things that can happen to a nuclear reactor is loss of electricity supply. Yes, nuclear power stations make electricity—some of the time—but they must be supplied with electricity all the time to avoid a meltdown. This is what happened at Fukushima Daiichi, which dusted the ground with radionuclides as far as Tokyo and is still leaking radioactive juice into the Pacific.
And so the nightmare scenario for the Ukraine is a simple one. Temperature drops bellow freezing and stays there for a couple of weeks. Coal and natural gas supplies run down; thermal power plants shut down; the electric grid fails; circulator pumps at the 19 nuclear reactors (which, by the way, probably haven’t been overhauled as recently as they should have been) stop pumping; meltdown!
And so, if you want to say a prayer for the Ukraine this holiday season, don’t bother because it’s well and truly fucked. But do say a prayer for global warming. If this winter stays very, very warm, then the “19 Fukushimas” scenario just may be averted. This is not impossible: we’ve been seeing one freakishly warm winter after another, and each passing month is setting new records. The future is looking hot—as in very warm. Let us pray that it doesn’t also turn out to be hot—as in radioactive.
Dmitry Orlov is a Russian-American engineer and a writer on subjects related to “potential economic, ecological and political decline and collapse in the United States,” something he has called “permanent crisis”. http://cluborlov.blogspot.com