Ministry studying potential effects of planned Polish nuclear power station

Environmental research impact zone in the immediate vicinity of the planned nuclear power station in Poland.
Environmental research impact zone in the immediate vicinity of the planned nuclear power station in Poland.

By mid-December this year, the Ministry of the Environment has to form a position on whether and to what extent the construction of a nuclear power plant planned in Poland and rated up to 3,750 MWh, will affect the Estonian environment and will not present a hazard, even in the event of a possible accident

Poland is planning to build the nuclear power plant both to fight soaring electricity prices and to ensure security of energy supply, as well as with environmental concerns in mind, ERR reports.

When starting to survey the cross-border environmental impact of the proposed planet, Poland notified all states within a thousand kilometer radius of its planned site, including Estonia.

The plant is Poland's first nuclear power station and is set to be built either at Choczewo, Gniewino and Krokowa municipalities, northwest of Gdansk and close to the Baltic coast.

Rainer Persidski, advisor at the environment ministry, told ERR that Estonia was firt informed about the plan in 2015, when the state expressed a desire to take part in the project's cross-border environmental impact assessment procedure. 

As of now, Poland has announced that the developer has completed the environmental impact assessment report relating to the project.

Persidski said: "When formulating its position, the Ministry of the Environment is focusing primarily on the long-range impact, i.e. whether and what kind of significant cross-border environmental impact the planned nuclear plant can have on Estonia. This includes aspects of safety, both under normal circumstances and in the event of a possible accident."

According to the environmental impact assessment report completed in Poland in May, emissions from the containment building plus a small amount from the turbine building would enter the atmosphere during various stages of the operation of the proposed nuclear plant. 

These would consist primarily of the most volatile radioactive substances, either in gaseous or in aerosol form, which are formed within a nuclear reactor or in its cooling system. The report emphasizes that these substances do not pose a radiation hazard to the population or to plant personnel.

The risk of a serious nuclear accident, where the reactor core has a melt down, is less than one in a million in the course of a year for the generation of nuclear power plants like the one Poland plans, while for another major accident, the likelihood is less than one in 10 million in a single year, according to the report.

If a major accident were to happen, based on the ministry's analysis, the effective doses would be low, i.e. lower than the average background radiation levels in Poland, even in population centers closest to the station. The lifetime doses received as a result of the accident would not exceed the annual limit values ​​for the operating stages of the nuclear plant.

The environmental studies which have been carried out for the construction of the nuclear power plant are unprecedentedly extensive and involved more than 40 research groups and contractors from all over Poland.

The section on possible trans-boundary environmental effects studies what might happen if, in the event of an accident, a contaminated cloud spread to national border of the state under consideration in the shortest possible time and under extremely unfavorable conditions. According to simulations, the maximum dose rates in the neighboring countries would be at least an order of magnitude lower than the average background radiation in Poland.

"This means that the major accident used as the basis for emergency planning
does not pose a threat to human well-being in areas a long distance away from the site, especially in the countries directly bordering Poland, while the cross-border impact of the Polish nuclear power plant is insignificant," the report concludes as quoted by ERR.

There are currently 440 operating reactors of this type Poland is planning, worldwide.

The Ministry of the Environment has placed the materials from the report on public display, and all who wish to can submit comments or suggestions until the end of November. The feedback received will then be collated by the ministry, and must be submitted to Polish authorities by mid-December.

Poland aims to produce 16 percent of its electricity via nuclear power plants by 2040.

Estonia does not share a border with Poland, while the distance from the zone planned for the nuclear power plant is around 700km from the nearest point in Estonian territory, to the northeast.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel

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