Russian Prosecutors Arrest State Nuclear Official
Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a subsidiary of Rosatom, the country’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation, of corruption and knowingly selling inferior equipment manufactured for nuclear reactors.
An investigation by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), has concluded that the procurement director of ZiO-Poldolsk machine building plant purchased low quality raw materials and kept the remaining money for himself, reports the Bellona Foundation, an international environmental NGO based in Norway.
The FSB made the investigation public last week when they arrested the company’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov. The investigation into ZiO-Poldolsk began in December.
The company is the only manufacturer of steam generators for Rosatom’s nuclear plants in Russia and for use by its international reactor subsidiary Atomstroyproekt.
ZiO-Podolsk is owned by the state-owned Atomenergoprom, a subsidiary of Rosatom. The news that it may have been shipping sub-standard equipment since as early as 2007 is a considerable blow to the company’s credibility.
According to the Bellona Foundation, the news has implications for nuclear plants not only in Russia but also Bulgaria, China, India, and Iran, all of which have bought equipment from Rosatom.
Shutov allegedly colluded with ZiO-Podolsk’s supplier AТОМ-Industriya to purchase the shoddy equipment, FSB investigators told Russia’s state media agency Rosbalt last week.
“This company purchased cheap steel in Ukraine and then distributed it for much more [and] the revenues were shared by the scam’s organizers,” said the agency, quoting an unnamed FSB source.
Prosecutors allege that Shutov knowingly accepted low quality steel in exchange for a portion of ATOM- Industriya’s profits, the FSB told Rosbalt. The same Moscow court that ordered Shutov’s arrest has filed embezzlement charges against Dmitry Golubyov, ATOM-Industriya’s general director, according to Rosbalt’s FSB sources.
The FSB told Rosbalt that poor quality steel manufactured for Kozloduy NPP, a power plant in Bulgaria, netted an illicit profit of 39 million rubles (€1 million) for ATOM-Industriya.
Environmental activists have warned that the use of substandard materials could lead to a nuclear disaster.
“Stopping and conducting full scale checks of reactors where equipment from ZiO-Podolsk has been installed is absolutely necessary,” Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Russian environmental NGO Ecodefence, said last week.
“Otherwise the risk of a serious accident at a nuclear power plant, whose cleanup bill, stretching into the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars, will have to be footed by taxpayers.”