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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 20, 1983

COLONEL A.I. SAMOILOV, HEAD OF THE 3RD DEPARTMENT OF THE 6TH SERVICE OF THE KGB ADMINISTRATION OF THE USSR FOR THE CITY OF MOSCOW, 'INFORMATION ABOUT SEVERAL PROBLEMS IN THE USE OF ATOMIC ENERGY STATIONS IN THE USSR'

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    This document discusses weaknesses in the technical designs of nuclear power plants in the USSR and their potential consequences, concluding that the Leningrad, Kursk, and Chernobyl plants are extremely dangerous.
    "Colonel A.I. Samoilov, Head of the 3rd Department of the 6th Service of the KGB Administration of the USSR for the City of Moscow, 'Information about Several Problems in the Use of Atomic Energy Stations in the USSR'," May 20, 1983, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, HDA SBU, f. 11, spr. 992, t. 6. Originally published by the Center for Research into the Liberation Movement (TsDVR) together with the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv at http://avr.org.ua/index.php/viewDoc/24461/. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/134292
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About several problems in the use of atomic energy stations in the USSR

The technological process of the atomic energy station is connected with the formation and accumulation of radioactive products in the active zone of the reactor (the first cooling system and thermal fission elements). In cases where this process goes beyond established limits, it could lead to radioactive contamination of the territory of the atomic energy station and the surrounding areas. Because of this, the atomic energy station is a potential source of radioactive danger for its service personnel and the surrounding population.

For instance, in the case of a breach of the main circulation pipeline as a result of natural metal corrosion and without an emergency extinguishing system in the active zone or a protective encasement around the reactor, the coolant will leak in 10-25 seconds from the cooling system. In this way, radioactive substances could leak from the reactor, the most dangerous of which are isotopes of iodine- [blank space], which will contaminate the thyroid gland and cause death. In the epicenter of the accident the radioactivity will be 60 times higher than it was in the explosion of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Specialists have calculated that the explosion, for example, of the main circulation pipeline at the Leningrad atomic energy station would lead to the contamination of the city of Leningrad and Leningrad Oblast, as well as a significant part of the territory of Finland.

Other causes of emergency situations are possible. An example would be the fire that took place in 1982 in the cables at the Armenian atomic energy station, as a result of which all basic units of the reactor lost power. The pumps providing water to the steam generator stopped working and the danger arose that the thermal fission of elements would fail and as a consequence, the leak of radioactive substances. Panic broke out, and people left their work places. Only connecting the reserve cable to the motor enabled aversion of tragedy. This case served as an incentive to create an emergency extinguishing system for the active zone of the reactor.

These safety measures are lacking in the following units, which are in use at the present time: blocks 1 and 2 of type AMB reactors of the atomic energy station in Belarus, AMB blocks 1 and 2 and blocks 3 and 4 of the VVER-440 reactors at the Kol’sk atomic energy station, blocks 1 and 2 of the VVER-440 reactors at the Armenian atomic energy station, blocks 1 and 2 of the type RBMK-1000 reactors at the Leningrad atomic energy station, blocks 1 and 2 of the RBMK-1000 reactors at the Kursk atomic energy station, and blocks 1 and 2 of the RBMK-1000 reactors at the Chernobyl atomic energy station.

It is necessary to note that the design of the VVER-440 reactor allows the possibility of constructing a protective cover around the reactor without stopping the operation of the atomic energy station. The design of the RBMK-1000 reactor was developed so that installation of such a cover is practically impossible (let alone without ceasing the operation of the reactor). For this reason, the Leningrad, Kursk, and Chernobyl atomic energy stations at the present time are the most dangerous with regards to their future use, which could have threatening consequences.

Head of the 3rd Department of the 6th Service of the KGB Administration of the USSR for the city of Moscow and Moscow Oblast Lieutenant

Colonel A.I. Samoilov

[Signature]

20 May, 1983

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