200 pages of classified information on Paks
I am almost sorry for János Lázár and his gang, as the entire pile of lies that they gathered over the past years falls right back onto them (okay, I admit I, too, helped to make that process easier). There is a new result to my perseverant efforts to pressure the European Commission: a couple of days ago they sent me 200 hundred pages of classified documents including internal notices, correspondence between the Commission and the Hungarian government, and the official inquiries of the Commission as well as the Hungarian responses. To read the full set of documents click here. . Although significant parts of the document labelled Confidential – business secrets” have been concealed, it still contains very interesting issues and they also refute some of the popular, albeit misleading, sayings of the government. It is also interesting to see why certain pieces of information have been concealed or refused to be published.
I will try to summarize the most important pieces of information, but I have to start by apologizing that despite all my efforts for brevity I will be a bit too long, even though I will emphasize the nine most exciting questions of the document.
- My previous information, which the Prime Minister’s Office belonging to János Lázár was unwilling to ascertain, is now proven to have been correct. Based on the sent materials we can see that contrary to what the government communicated earlier, we won’t be able to ship the spent fuel of PaksII back to Russia, which means that their storage will take place on the area of the power plant until the storage facility responsible for its disposal will be finished (probably not until after 2050). This is exciting, because the environmental impact assessment documentation (EIAD) for the permit of PaksII, currently in progress, obviously does not mention this temporary storage facility. The permit-request, therefore, does not pertain to the actual institution of facilities, but to a hypothetical construction to which additional elements will be built, although these cannot be granted a permit at the moment. We called attention to this aspect in our expert analysis on the EIAD.
- All details pertaining to financing are concealed in the document, which in itself poses the question: how great the convincing power is of the conditions that are being kept secret so anxiously? What becomes clear anyway is that in case, for example, we do not draw the credit planned for next year (because, for example, the construction was not finished on time and so work financed from that credit could not be done), we will have to pay a 0.25% charge. This means that even if drawing a 10-billion-dollar credit calculating with a 5% error rate (the execution is almost always delayed by that much in Hungary), it would mean a 1.25 million dollar (300-350 million forints) extra cost. This is only one example, but given that almost every part pertaining to financial details is concealed, and what I found comes from the very little they did leave uncovered, it is not unrealistic to assume that the contract can be full of similar hidden expenses. (Update: the above mechanism is real; however, because of swift calculation a decimal point was missed: instead of 1.25 million dollars, the text was about 125 million dollars. Thus the conversion to forint was also flawed, for which I apologize. I do, however, stand by the rest of my statements).
- There are serious safety issues as well. The internal notices of the European Commission call special attention to the fact that in Finland, the client Fennovoima requested additional, increased safety changes from Rosatom, beyond the Russian base construction. For example:
– internal and external risks, among others, in case of fire or flood
– for the separation of the control center and the facility
– for the construction of an independent primary pressure-release system
– for the possibility of a plane crash
– in case of incident management
– for the purpose of testing passive safety systems
What we don’t know, however, is whether Hungary has asked for the same modifications or will the cheaper solution suffice for us? Are the facilities that are being built in Belarus or St. Petersburg good enough, once they are part of the Russian circle of interest? I turned to János Lázár in this matter to clarify whether Hungary has asked for the same modifications as Finland.
- There are fascinating details in the documents about utilization and schedule-tracking, Based on these I can safely say: PaksII is the greatest transformation artist the world has ever seen. To the question how the expenses of the investment will be returned, the answer is that, apart from compulsory maintenance, the new power plant will operate at full capacity – Attila Aszódi consistently talks about a 95% utilization. Only to find out that when it comes to system integration or the question of heat-loads for the Danube, the very same power plant in the very same time phase will operate in a schedule-tracking mode, of course, (that is according to the actual needs); the plant can also be shut down regularly in order to keep to the environmental limits. Please! Not only the Constitution can be hacked with a two-thirds majority, the rules of form-logic can also be overwritten.
- The completely false modelling of the prospects for energy market environment is a recurring problem, as well as ignoring the problems that come with it. Last week already, I pointed out that the assumptions related to the growth of energy demand (1.3% growth by 2020) are the complete opposite of the truth. And yet, even the Hungarian documents that were sent to the Commission include this completely false assumption, consistently. The estimations on the expected price of electricity produced in the new power plants are also false; in addition, the analyses pertaining to the expected prices of the EU electricity market upon the integration of PaksII are also missing. The Commission, therefore, also asks the question: what will happen in case electricity prices stay below what’s expected and what is needed for the return of the investment? How will this be managed? Do you know what the government’s well-founded, scientific answer is? Ah, there will be no such thing! Many power plants will be outdated by then and thus electricity will certainly be quite expensive. The thorough consideration of what electricity-producing capacities could enter the EU market in the meantime and at what expected price they will produce that electricity – in competition with the electricity of PaksII – apparently exceeds the intellectual horizon of the government.
- The Commission’s decision to consistently conceal all the information relating to earthquakes and the forecasts of extreme weather circumstances is completely unacceptable and incomprehensible. The qualification of the documents is based on protecting business secrets; the probability of natural disasters, their extent, or forecast scarcely falls under that category. Safety reasons also fail to explain such a decision. There is no apparent reason to conceal such information from the material, neither is it understandable why they did so, unless they did it upon the request of the Hungarian government (with whom they consulted in connection with the provision of data – as it turns out from the annex of the letter, which also explains that requests had been taken into account). And the Hungarian government does not want us to see something here.
- There is obvious clarification on the fate of the Central Nuclear Financial Fund (KNPA), however. The government answered, on multiple occasions, with great certainty upon the inquiries of the Commission in this matter: according to them the expenses of the disassembly of the facility and the disposal of harmful waste will be covered by KNPA. This also means that if the government stays true to its intention of stealing the Fund, it will at the same time lose the EU’s approval for PaksII, because the Commission will only approve of and contribute to the construction of the plant, provided that the costs of waste management and disassembly are covered via the permanent financing of the KNPA.
- There is one other very interesting problem connected to the corrosion of various equipment. The Commission asks whether the power plant will serve as base-load or operate in a schedule-tracking mode. The significance of this lies with the fact that according to previous experiences with pressurized water reactors similar to that of the Paks ones, in case of a schedule-tracking mode there were regular corrosion processes in the steam generators – or so the Commission says. They ask what the plans are to prevent such occurrences or to detect them in time. The Hungarian response is that although the plant will operate in a schedule-tracking mode (and here I would like to refer back to the stark contradiction with Attila Aszódi’s statements envisioning a 95% utilization), there won’t be any corrosions here or if so, we will discover it in time. This sounds extremely reassuring, especially from the perspective of the power plant in relation to which I revealed, earlier this year, that no more than two years ago the corrosion-proof Russia-manfuctared pipes in the circulation system of the spent fuel pools in block 3 have rotten so badly after 30 years that cooling liquid was leaking out of them through entire holes. As a result, 60.000 liters of radioactive borated water had leaked by the time they managed to even detect this – from none less than the fact that liquid was constantly disappearing from the spent fuel pool. That substance has been there somewhere under the plant ever since. Following this revelation, when it came to the supervision of the rest of the blocks by this „there-won’t-be-corrosion-or-if-so-we-will-discover-it” type of power plant, it was revealed that the same occurrence happened in four out of four blocks. Bingo! In addition to all of the above, the permit for the 20-year-expansion of the lifespan of Paks 1 block 1 was issued without either the power plant or the authority detecting these problems. So we can rest assured: these guys are very confident in knowing how to handle this.
- And the last issue: upon the Commission’s question on what will happen with the spent fuel elements, with whom will the ultimate responsibility lie, and who the final owner of waste will be, the Hungarian government confidently says – by the way, in accordance with EU law – that it will naturally belong to Hungary. Let me remind you of a minor fact here: in the end of July, 2014, Hungary shipped nuclear waste by train to Russia through the war-ridden Ukraine; these were the damaged fuel rods of the 2003 Paks accident. The purpose of transportation was recycling and final disposal – as I have finally managed to make the government officially state so. This could not have been possible according to EU or Hungarian laws – exactly because, according to EU law the final owner of nuclear waste is always the country where it was generated and the responsibility of final disposal cannot be transferred to another country (except for rare cases that cannot pertain to this type of shipment). Apparently, the Hungarian government was also very well aware of this when it attempted to request a permit for PaksII. Then they must also be aware of the fact that last year’s shipments of waste was against the law, regardless of their forever-changing, ridiculous and forced reasons to explain the opposite. I’m just saying: this case is also being examined by the Commission. And the last two weeks didn’t bring much joy to Paks on the Commission’s part.
As a conclusion, a last remark: the documents I received, even in the reduced form they were sent to me, pose a series of uncomfortable questions. All in all, it is incomprehensible and unacceptable, on the one hand, that several of the documents were refused to be released without any convincing explanation, and on the other hand, that parts were concealed from the sent material with the allusion to secrets which can hardly be explained by the mentioned reasons (protection of business secrets, protection of institutional decision-making processes, protection of personal data or the guarantee of nuclear safety). Therefore, I turned to the Commission with a letter again, requesting withheld documents and access to the concealed parts of the sent document.
This is where we stand now. What becomes clear from these 200 pages that there is reason for – unlawfully – classifying the Paks documents. Every newly published detail proves over and over again that the Paks expansion is even crazier, more harmful and more absurd than we have originally thought. We gradually find out that it will pollute the Danube, that there is no VAT included in the price, that we won’t be able to ship spent fuel back to Russia for recycling and that they will have to be kept in the vicinity of the power plants, that the modelling of the prospects for the market environment was forgotten, or that the government is all over the place with its lies about the utilization of the power plant.
I wouldn’t hire them to build even a shed at the back of my yard.