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After the seminar to mark the 25th anniversary of the environmental disaster in Basel Alexander Moskalenko answered to the questions from the British journalist Alex Kirby

16/11/2011

Kirby A.: You are directly involved with the expertise on industrial safety. How do you think, how high can the industrial safety be assessed both in Russia and in other countries?
Moskalenko A.: First of all I would like to tell that in different countries we all do it in slightly different ways. We should not look at who is better and who is worse. We have involved into to this matter and dealt with it, already it gives very huge result. Over the past 25 years, of course, Europe and Russia have made a huge step forward. No matter how we are divided up, we still have common technologies based on simple physical principles. And such horrors that we saw 20-25 years ago, are not there any more. I, still being an expert, rely on figures, and would like to tell that our technological world has become safer by 2 folds, i.e., 100 times. We take a regular count of this and understand that this is indeed the case. But it is also necessary to note that, there are, of course, bottlenecks, which we did not pay attention to, and in the first place, it is the transportation. We have the knowledge to protect and control well, say, the oil refining, but transportation is something that we pay least attention to. And I do not see any reduction of risk on this side. Pay attention to the numerous incidents with oil tankers. Particularly, the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay have been affected. Many incidents occur on the railways. Perhaps the most striking was the one that happened one and half years ago in Italy, when the condensate spilled out from the cistern and a big fire occurred that damaged many houses. We have today paid attention to it and slightly corrected the joint policies on the traffic motion. After all, transportation has a huge feature - it is the great speed. And especially we should pay attention to the transportation corridors and terminals, where many routes cross, and they are congested. We stayed quite a bit on transport. The problem is that it is always a complex issue; it must be viewed from different sides, of course, even from the financial side. We, in Russia, often think that here in Europe there is lot of money, but our working together shows that European experts complain about the lack of money.

Kirby A.: The big difference between 1986 and the present day is the globalization that took place. The state had been very influential participants and players earlier, but now this role is played by the private sector. Given that many of your customers are from the private sector, do you think they need help with how to understand and make it effective all these standards and support of the convention, don’t they know what to do?


Moskalenko A.:
I'll divide my answer in to two parts. In most cases, the enterprise understands what to do, but do not know how. It is considered that the management of the enterprise and its employees know the enterprise better than anyone. And my experience is that with regard to safety, they know little about their enterprise. And, indeed, they need help, first of all, from the experts, who are specialized in safety matters. I will give you a small example from a slightly different area. We always prepared the power engineers of the enterprises in the task of supplying power to the enterprise, but today we entrust them also to solve issues on saving the energy resources, and we are getting very deplorable results, as these people on these matters never stayed back. Same is the case with industrial safety and safety in general.
The engineers at the enterprises know how the operational process is happening. And however we ask them to watch out on safety, yet, for them the process is more important than safety. The most glaring example is Fukushima. How was it possible that permission was granted to locate the plant the sea shore? They do not use sea water for cooling. We ask then: why? Maybe the location on the shore is necessary in order to bring something by sea? Not at all.

Kirby A.:
In Britain, we too have a few nuclear power plants on the shore.

Moskalenko A.:
Something more about Fukushima. Redundant power supplies and electricity were near those facilities which were a back up. That is to say, we have the element; and the element that duplicates it, stands beside it. It is also needed in case of breakdown. This is great stupidity. When the wave reached, it destroyed both the main power and the backup. Here's an example of how a good specialist, a good technologist has created an unsafe system. And another example from Russia - it is our Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP. When the water got into the hall, it has destroyed the control panel. And the backup control panel was located below. And at the end two heroes climbed up to the top and manually shut off the water supply. Although it was sufficient to separate these locations and there would have been no such consequences.

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