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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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About some issues in the operation of atomic power stations in the USSR


The engineering process at an AES (atomic power station) is connected with the formation and accumulation of radioactive products in the core of the reactor (the primary loop and heat-emitting elements[1]). In the instance where the radioactive products go beyond established limits, it could lead to radioactive contamination of the territory of the AES and of extensive areas adjoining it. Because of this, the AES 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 aging of the metal and the absence of an emergency inundation of the core and a protective shell around the reactor, the coolant will leak from the [primary] loop in 10-25 seconds. In this way, there could be a leak of radioactive products in the coolant, the most dangerous of which are isotopes of iodine- [blank space], which will affect the thyroid gland and cause death. In the epicenter of the accident, 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 AES would lead to the contamination of the city of Leningrad and Leningrad Oblast, as well as a significant territory of Finland.


There are other possible reasons for emergency situations to arise. An example would be the cable fire that took place in 1982 at the Armenian AES, as a result of which all the primary components of the reactor lost power. The pumps providing water to the steam generator stopped working and the danger arose that the heat-emitting elements would fail and, as a consequence, the leak of radioactive products. Panic broke out, and people left their work places. Only a quick connection of a reserve cable to the engines permitted a tragedy to be avoided. This case served as an impetus to create an emergency reactor core inundation system.


These safety measures are lacking in the following units, which are in use at the present time: Units 1 and 2 of type AMB reactors at Beloyarsk AES, AMB Units 1 and 2[2] and VVER-440 type reactor Units 3 and 4 at Kola AES, VVER-440 Units 1 and 2 at the Armenian AES, RBMK-1000 type reactor Units 1 and 2 at Leningrad AES, RBMK-100 reactor Units 1 and 2 at Kursk AES, and RMBK-1000 reactor Units 1 and 2 at Chernobyl AES. [comment: this passage was underlined]


It is necessary to note that the design of the VVER-440 reactor allows for the possibility of constructing a protective shell 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 shell is practically impossible (let alone without ceasing the operation of the reactor). For this reason, Leningrad, Kursk, and Chernobyl AES at the present time are the most dangerous with regards to their future use, which could have alarming consequences. [comment: this passage was underlined]


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


Lieutenant Colonel A.I. Samoylov


20 May 1983



[1] Referring to fuel rods.

[2] This is an error. There have never been AMB reactors at Novovoronezh. Novovoronezh AES Units 1 and 2 are early models of the VVER, VVER-210 and VVER-365 respectively.

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.

Document Information


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


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Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)