With the onset of winter and the increasing strain on Ukraine’s energy system, the threat of a new nuclear disaster in Central Europe is becoming more than just a theoretical danger. According to analysts from Energy Research & Social Science (ERSS), there is an 80% probability of a “serious accident” at one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants before the year 2020. This is due both to the increased burden on the nuclear plants caused by the widespread shutdowns of Ukraine’s thermal power plants (the raw material they consumed – coal from the Donbass – is in critically short supply) and also because of the severe physical deterioration of their Soviet-era nuclear equipment and the catastrophic underfunding of this industry.
Should such an incident occur, the EU would not only be faced with the potential environmental consequences, but also – given the recent introduction of visa-free travel – a large-scale exodus of Ukrainians out of contaminated areas. Continue reading