Expert: It is impossible to achieve victory through weapons in the atomic world

Press Release

Obshchaya Gazeta, Leningrad Region, Russia, April 22

Original Publication in Russia:

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  • Why nuclear physicist Oleg Bodrov became an environmental activist and opponent of the development of nuclear energy and now calls Russia for peace in Ukraine

Just a month ago, on March 14, in the Leningrad region, with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the construction of the seventh power unit of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) was launched. It is planned that the launch of the power unit will take place in 2030, and two years later – in 2032 – the eighth power unit of the Leningrad NPP will be launched in the Leningrad region. An extremely promising and extremely important project throughout the country, however, recently it has increasingly caused serious concerns among so-called environmental defenders.

  • What are the concerns of environmental activists? This was the question posed by Obshchaya Gazeta Leningradskaya Oblast to Oleg Bodrov, a former nuclear physicist, former chairman of the public organization “Green World” (recognized as an NGO-foreign agent in 2015, but subsequently excluded from the register due to the organization’s self-liquidation), and now ecologist and chairman of the Public Council of the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.


  • Oleg Viktorovich, how would you assess the prospects for the implementation of projects for the seventh and eighth power units of the Leningrad NPP?

Let’s start with the fact that at the beginning of the construction of power units 5 and 6 of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, it was intended that one unit would work for export – to Finland and other countries. To this end, hearings were held on laying an undersea cable from the Leningrad nuclear power plant to the Vyborg area in order to directly pump energy to Finland. This idea has now been shelved, but construction has continued.

At the same time, 30 years ago, the Russian Academy of Sciences, at the request of the administration of Sosnovy Bor, assessed the safety of the natural complex in the area of the Leningrad NPP. Experts concluded that the environmental capacity in the area of the nuclear complex was exhausted; they did not recommend building new facilities or increasing the population of Sosnovy Bor. They stated that it was necessary to abandon the further development of Sosnovy Bor as a nuclear city and pursue other production and employment opportunities unrelated to nuclear activities. However, this recommendation from the early nineties was unfortunately not heeded; moreover, the number of nuclear and radiation hazardous objects doubled.

Now, another mechanism has been launched to disrupt this balanced development of the region. A decision has been made to construct the world’s largest alumina plant for processing bauxite, located 7 kilometers from Sosnovy Bor and about 10 kilometers from the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. Bauxite will be imported through the port of Ust-Luga for this purpose. In my opinion, the political decision has already been made, and survey work is underway. However, the comprehensive impact of existing objects is not being taken into account. Various greenhouse gas oxides, some of which are soluble, will be released into the atmosphere. Additionally, the LNPP units currently under construction, as well as the fifth and sixth units before them, will emit a steam-water mixture through the cooling systems of the nuclear plant. If the alumina refinery begins operations, these oxides may combine with the steam-water mixture from the cooling towers of another industrial facility, potentially leading to the formation of acid rain in the area. This indicates that decision-makers and experts are evaluating the safety of individual facilities rather than considering the cumulative impact of all existing and planned constructions. Consequently, unaccounted risks arise. In my opinion, it is necessary to evaluate not only the financial benefits and job creation potential of the region but also the social and environmental consequences that may result from the implementation of the project.

  • Another circumstance worries me very much: there is now a political and military confrontation just 70 kilometers from this nuclear complex. In the event of hostilities breaking out, ensuring the safety of the nuclear complexes in Sosnovy Bor, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, and other countries would be impossible.

Moreover, you probably heard that there have already been drone attacks on the infrastructure of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. This indicates that new challenges have emerged, along with new risks that politicians also need to take into account when building their strategies. It is essential to consider that under no circumstances should these nuclear-hazardous facilities be allowed to be destroyed in the event of hostilities.

– Do you think such a scenario is realistic?

– We translated an article from a foreign magazine into Russian – an analysis of the strategy of NATO Generals in the event of a confrontation with Russia. They intend to conduct military operations in the St. Petersburg area. I am sure that Russian generals and admirals have no less victorious models and strategies throughout the Baltic region. This means that there are risks that are not currently discussed, not by ecologists, not by the people who live here, that can radically change our lives. I think so, because at nuclear facilities, and there are more than 30 of them in the Baltic region, a gigantic amount of nuclear and radioactive waste, for example, plutonium, has accumulated. This radioactive element was practically absent from the earth’s crust, and with the beginning of the atomic era we produced tons of this plutonium, and it is super toxic to all living things. If released into the environment, it will pose a danger to the entire Baltic region.

  • As for safety, I remember that even at the start of the construction of the fifth power unit of the LNPP, journalists (including our publication) were given a tour and demonstrated the unprecedented organization of safety at the site. It was also emphasized that all necessary measures were taken at the new facilities, including preparations for both man-made and natural disasters, as well as potential external attacks.

It is impossible to make an object absolutely safe. Because blocks can be attacked not only by drones. Today, these domes are designed for aircraft weighing up to 200 tons to fall at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. That is, these are drones, but forgive me, there are now possibilities of attacking with missiles and ballistic missiles. Of course, the blocks are not designed for the purpose of destruction. And modern types of weapons are capable of destroying these blocks, and there is no doubt about it. The events at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant show that the taboo on such attacks no longer exists, although there were international conventions and decisions of the IAEA General Assembly that prohibit military influence on such facilities. Nevertheless, it happens. It is known in history when Israeli aircraft destroyed Iraqi and Iranian research reactors. That is, they simply attacked and destroyed. This led to environmental pollution, but these were small reactors. In our case, we are talking about objects that are a thousand times more powerful and dangerous in terms of consequences if they are destroyed.

  • You touched upon the topic of Ukrainian attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and at the same time mentioned that it is impossible to completely secure such facilities. The Kiev regime regularly attempts to attack the station, and in the event of a disaster, we understand very well that Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and Europe are all at risk. In your opinion, how can a disaster be prevented?

This is a question, an answer to which, if I give it, may lead to my isolation. Because, in my opinion, global processes are taking place that have ceased to be significant for the people who make such decisions. I believe that it is impossible to make decisions that would only protect the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Therefore, in my opinion, we need to abandon hostilities, stop killing each other, and sit down at the negotiating table. This, in my opinion, is the only solution, because if the military, and not diplomats, are involved, sooner or later irreversible consequences will occur. Therefore, we are not only talking about the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant but about all nuclear facilities, not only in Russia and Ukraine but also in the Baltic region and in countries not directly involved in this process. Look at what is happening in Israel and Iran – diplomatic efforts have been sidelined by politicians.

In my view, fighting needs to be stopped immediately, by everyone. This is paramount, followed by negotiation. Even though these negotiations have been ongoing for 100 years, it is crucial to prevent the loss of the younger generation. We are now talking about hundreds of thousands of lives lost. It seems to me that it’s time to halt this and activate alternative mechanisms for resolving these issues because victory through weapons in the atomic world is unattainable.

I believe security is an illusion. Regardless of the goals set by the most powerful countries, on a planet with more than 400 nuclear reactors, they are not protected from potential destruction in the event of military action. Take note of what occurred in Zaporozhye: even a country without atomic weapons can seize a nuclear facility in any country and impose its terms on the entire world. This is because the consequences of destroying such a facility would be more severe than those of an atomic bomb explosion. We are faced with a situation where nuclear plants have effectively become weapons of mass destruction, and these weapons do not necessarily function by blowing up these plants. It is sufficient to capture such a station with a special forces group to create the risk of its destruction.

  • Am I understanding correctly that for Ukraine, the Zaporozhye station is a weapon through which they aim to assert their influence globally? And is this why Ukraine launches regular attacks on the Zaporozhye station?

You know, it has indeed become a weapon in the hands of those who can manipulate its safety. And its security can be influenced not only by Ukraine or Russia but also by other countries. I believe that such capabilities could exist in many countries, not just Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, I’m saying that if such an event occurs, it could trigger a chain reaction of similar impacts on other nuclear facilities in any country. President Putin has mentioned that in the event of a nuclear strike or some form of attack on Russian territory, the retaliatory strike will not target the origin of the missile but rather the decision-making center. This indicates that such an event may not only affect Europe, if it originates from there, but also other countries involved in the process. Hence, we are facing a stage of extreme instability. The current situation must be seen in this context to prevent further expansion and an increase in the number of these nuclear facilities from compromising their safety.

Nuclear scientists may discuss technological safety, but a new emergency situation always arises because some new factors emerge that were not considered when designing the facility. Currently, nuclear power plants are deemed safe if they are not targeted by modern missiles. Otherwise, they would undoubtedly be destroyed if such an objective is pursued. Therefore, new safety criteria must be developed to eliminate the possibility of using weapons against nuclear facilities.