By George Eliason
January 03, 2015
Over the last week, more publications, including Zero Hedge, have started reporting on a still developing nuclear problem at the largest nuclear plant in Europe. This news has been widely circulated in Eastern Europe over the last few weeks.
The problem in Ukraine has been and remains verification: Ukrainian sources have not been forthcoming. When this first occurred I was contacted through a second party and told directly after the officially reported transformer incident that a radiation spike was observed in Crimea, which is 140km away from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
The spike was small against background radiation but noticeable on a geiger counter. I was also given hacked files of the emergency conversation that happened at the plant that day. They are included at the bottom of the article. The proximity to what is coming to light means they cannot be ignored.
Understanding Geiger Counters
The first thing most people don’t realize is that geiger counters are location sensitive. They are calibrated against the background radiation for a specific location. This means that if you take a geiger counter and move just a mile away, the background radiation itself could be different and the measurement inaccurate. Known background radiation is the Zero point on a calibrated geiger counter.
Second and as important is that all sensitive measurement tools need to be calibrated and certified to be useful. Sensitive tools go out of calibration by themselves over time. After Fukushima, a new normal needs to be considered.
What this means to Europe is the possibility of a larger than Fukushima event opening up in its own backyard, without anyone getting a handle on it – quite literally. Depending on which way the wind blows, without verification they are leaving their own countries futures in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists who are in the midst of trying to perpetrate a genocide in Donbas.
Ukraine reported an non-nuclear ‘incident’: a transformer short circuiting, while the term ‘accident’ is used for radiological issues. This report was carried across the nuclear industry forums that talked about it. The case was closed.
As reported at Zero Hedge– we reported of the odd coincidence of a 2nd emergency shutdown at Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Nuclear reactor – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – following our earlier fears of disinformation. Today, we learn of a leaked report sourced from three different places – unconfirmed for now but which RT is trying to verify – that Ukrainian nuclear scientists misled the public and a radioactive leak has been detected – and citing the country’s emergency services claim that levels of radiation are 16.3 times the legally permitted norm.
What does 16.3 times the allowable norm mean? In a pre-Fukushima world, if any nuclear plant in the US were to report 1 times the allowable radiation/ steam contamination release, every major publication in the country would be focused on that event.
Allowable release at nuclear power plants falls under a Zero tolerance policy. At the Zaporozhye power plant, background radiation before the event registered at 10-12 counts per minute on a geiger counter. At 50 counts it does not cause an alarm but is something to monitor.
The threshold for alarm is 100 counts and radiological personal protective gear might be warranted. Zaporozhye is well beyond that threshold now.
Post Fukushima Norms
At 16.3 X the allowable count, the measurement is not 16.3 cpm (counts per minute) X 10-12cpm (known background) at Zaporozhye. The key to understanding this is knowing what the highest allowable radiation exposure(milli-rems, milli- seiverts, counts per minute) figure is in Ukraine. Ukraine is working with the MAX allowable figure, not the normal one. The terminology used and lack of measurement is the surest indicator of there being a problem.
Background to RAD work
First things first, I AM not a nuclear engineer, or nuclear scientist. These are the industry people that need to weigh in. However I used to have locked high rad clearance and what that means essentially is I know a bit more than the average person about what the slight of hand in the official figures could mean. As an example from Fukushima’s #3 sister plant I did some work at over 10 years ago, a few times I went into situations that because of the stage in the refueling, dose was very high.
Each assignment or job starts with a detailed briefing which includes where not to go in a room or what to touch. It included how long a person could be there before they had to leave or where to stand away from the work if there were any complications in order to lower the radioactive dose. This attention to safety is the norm in nuclear plants, not the exception.
Personnel are monitored by an HP (Health Physics) and Nuclear Hygienist that make sure they do not get into trouble. They monitor personal dosimetery (measuring personal radioactive dose and exposure) as well as local radiation levels.
The Hand can be Quicker that the Eye
I will recount one of several situations that stand out in my mind which make it impossible to believe Ukraine’s 16.3 X Allowable (legal) limit without independent verification. In certain rare situations the Allowable limit is a sliding scale. The one thing the world learned post Fukushima is that the Allowable limits can change hour to hour, day to day.
Exposure = Dose + Time
During a refueling at Fukushima #3 sister plant I was asked to go into a really high radiation location because I had the skill sets to get the job done quickly. I went into the containment area and the HP was there waiting. I took 2 steps beyond the HP and my dosimeter alarmed. He evacuated me and they raised the alarm level on my dosimeter a little. This was the new norm for me from that point.
I returned to the work area and went past the HP a 2nd time. I didn’t make it any further. The alarm sounded and I was told to leave. Again they raised the alarm level to my new norm. Simply put my norm was anything that allowed me to do what I needed to get done.
This happened a third time. On my way out I told the HP to call ahead and make sure it was sufficient for the work at hand this time. I was getting dosed every time I went in and the more time I spent going in and out the more radiation I would be hit with.
The point is that after a few tries, the new norm or allowable limit was established so I could do my work without interruptions.
While this sliding scale is necessary once in a while in a closely monitored and controlled situation it is perverse to impose it on an unknowing world such as was done with the lies before and after the Fukushima event. The new radiological norm for a post Fukushima world was illegal before the meltdown happened.
What We Know about Zaporozhye
We now know that radiation was released and reports of a steam blow-off are starting to surface. Unfortunately this is in line with information I was given about a fire in the cooling system and a contaminated side steam pipe burst inside the containment (their word is sarcophagus). People who have left the area have reported that iodine tablets are being handed out to people who live close to the plant. We know that the plant shut down all social media for plant workers so they would not talk about the incident. This was a highly unusual move for a transformer problem.
A second reactor(#6) has been shutdown at the same plant and restarted on December 28th. This linked document shows that unit #6 is still down on December 29th. A third at South Ukraine Nuclear Power plant which has been testing Westinghouse fuel assemblies is in an abnormally long shutdown. Normal is 30-40 days. This is planned to be 120 days. This is also not the first time this year that Zaporozhye had unscheduled shutdowns.
In the spring Pravy Sektor tried unsuccessfully to storm nuclear power plants three times. Later the government of Ukraine ordered that they guard nuclear material, nuclear facilities, and even nuclear waste using, meaning that the Poroshenko government put the terrorists that tried to take nuclear plants by force in charge.
The Worst Possible Problem with the Information about Zaporozhye
This copy of a leaked letter from Westinghouse speaks of even larger problems at an undisclosed reactor in Ukraine on December 6th. It has not been reported until now.
Shortly after Unit #3 was reported as a non-nuclear incident, an anonymous bomb threat was given about Chernobyl. In the same time frame I was given the following files of a conversation hacked by an Anonymous style group called cyber-militia (КиберОполчение).
I really hate using the term false flag event. Given the nature of the leaked conversation below, an anonymous bomb threat would give Kiev cover in the event that they lost control over the reactor. The conversation unfortunately provides context to what we are now learning about the problem reactors and specifically a contaminated steam release. By including that text here, hopefully the issues at the plant can be identified by reliable and qualified sources. Ukraine has none.
The original text that made me aware of the files are from twitter- @VexhilvyStrimer after November 28th.
Zaporozhye Leaked Accident Conversation-
The following leaked conversations that took place during the Zaporozhye incident are between Tyshenko (General Director of Nuclear Power Plant) and Torbayevsky ( Head of Emergency Readiness).
Tyshenko 8:12 PM- Vasili what the hell is going on over there?
8:24- Tyshenko- Why aren’t you answering?
8:58- Torbayevsky- Vacheslav Alexaivich, forgive me for not answering. We have an emergency. The Third Unit shut down. I am already there. Ignatchencho is with me. Krasnogorov is coming.
Tyshenko- F***! Why the hell didn’t you tell me immediately? Do you understand the danger this will mean for us? We will be thrown in prison, you as well. Leaving now, will be there in ½ hour.
Torbayevsky- Need to contact Chech specialists from Skoda. Its their equipment.
Tyshenko and Krasnogorov, head engineer at plant ZGD
20:34 Tyshenko- Fiador, how are things?
Krasnagorov- Things are not good. The casket on the upper unit cannot take the pressure. Seems we screwed around with this improper material long enough.
Tyshenko- Don’t whine. You need to understand that no one asked me about any of it.
Krasnagorov- Even back then I was saying that this is not going to end well. We needed to do testing first. Its not just the caskets that are the problem. Its with the fuel as well.
Tyshenko- I said don’t whine! These are the orders the ministry gave. They warmed their hands on it already (they made their money) and let this f*** them now (let them deal with the fallout).
7:48 Tyshenko and Stefansky (Assistant Plant manager)
Stefansky- Vacheslav Alexaivich as soon as you left, journalists flooded us. They are hanging out at the security checkpoint. What do I say to them?
Tyshenko 8:01 am- Listen, I am f***ing barely able to stay on my feet (tired). Can’t you come up with something? Say that it is an electrical short circuit or some other shit like that, but about the reactor not a word! Blab, and I will turn you inside out (skin you)! Thats it, out, I’m getting a few hours sleep and will be back.
8:53 Tyshenko and Torbayevsky
Torbayevsky- Vacheslav Alexaivich, we have a leak.
Tyshenko- F***! Where are you?
Torbayevsky- I’m at the station with the personnel, trying to fix it, but its a dead number (no use).
9:31 am Tyshenko- Ok, I called to the top. We need to be quiet now or we’ll be sent to Donbass as volunteers. Do You understand?
12:17 Tyshenko- Vasili, I’ve been called to Kiev immediately. Figure this out without me.
Torbayevsky- What do we do with the personnel? We need to evacuate people, radiation is off the charts! And locals need to be warned. We already started dumping into the water supply from the cooling system. Very soon we will have a second Chernobyl.
Tyshenko- Don’t panic! We were told to be quiet. We’ll be quiet!
Torbayevsky- Vacheslav Alexaivich! Do you understand we can no longer keep silent? This is a catastrophe! Here in a 100 kilometer radius, nothing will be left alive! F***ing sky is already glowing! (inside joke about radiation)
Tyshenko- Listen! I am flying to Kiev. Wait for a call. For now don’t answer any questions and don’t talk to anyone.