NY Times: Front Page
By Anthony DePalma
TORONTO -- On the blustery shore of Lake Ontario, in Canada's most heavily populated region, four aging nuclear reactors bedeviled by leaks, failures and operators who sometimes drank beer or smoked marijuana on the job are being shut down because they cannot be safely run by one of the largest utility companies in North America.
At the same time, workers are busy excavating a huge site in China, about 60 miles south of Shanghai, where two Canadian reactors similar to the troubled ones in Canada are being built under Canadian supervision.
The four reactors on Lake Ontario, along with three more farther north on the edge of Lake Huron, are being mothballed because their operator -- Ontario Hydro -- acknowledged last summer that it does not have the money or the proper management to run them safely.
The basic design of the Canadian reactors is unique. Although they are simpler than American-type reactors to build, experts now agree they are far more complex to keep running safely. Maintaining the units has put enormous demands on Canadian operators with solid technical backgrounds and access to the latest equipment and designs.
However, for the last 40 years, the same type of Canadian-designed and built reactors has been sold to countries around the world, including Romania, India and Argentina, that have far less money or technical expertise than Canada and already are struggling to keep the reactors safe. And because the reactors are unlike any others, the number of qualified operators and knowledgeable inspectors is limited.
The closing of seven of Ontario Hydro's 19 operating reactors has underscored the difficulties that Canada itself has had in keeping the reactors running safely. It has also raised questions about Canada's policy of aggressively exporting them to countries with limited experience in regulating -- and in some cases simply operating -- nuclear reactors.
Since the dawn of the nuclear age, Canada has determinedly tried to use the power of the atom to demonstrate Canadian technological know-how and economic independence. Even the name of the reactor -- CANDU, for Canadian Deuterium Uranium -- was meant to suggest Canadian resourcefulness.
Since 1952, according to one estimate, Canada's nuclear industry has received more than $10 billion in government subsidies. It sold 11 reactors overseas, including the 2 to China.
But Canada has repeatedly been scolded by its own citizens and other nations for selling reactors to authoritarian governments in Argentina, Pakistan and Romania. In 1974, India exploded a nuclear device it admitted had been made with plutonium from a reactor purchased from Canada.
Yet the Canadians continue to circle the globe trying to peddle the same reactors that have proved so difficult to manage in their own backyard. One of three bids opened by the Turkish government in October came from Canada. And Canadian officials continue trying to sell more to Hungary, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, not to mention repeat sales to China, South Korea and Romania.
"All this has to do with a very deeply rooted historic question of technological prestige that has its roots in the nuclear weapons programs of the Second World War," said David H. Martin, research director for Nuclear Awareness Project, an environmental group in Ottawa. "Our nuclear research effort was a way to try to rearrange the world's picture of Canada."
The government defends the program, saying that each export sale creates thousands of jobs at home. But critics charge that the government's obsession with the reactor blinded it to the project's serious shortcomings.
Canada's nuclear program began in the early days of World War II. Supplies of heavy water -- in which hydrogen atoms have been replaced by deuterium for use in nuclear experiments -- were brought from Norway to Paris and then, when the Nazis occupied France, to England and later to Montreal.
Canada played a minor part in the Allied effort to build the first atomic bomb. But, intent on demonstrating its economic independence, the country set out to exploit its head start with heavy water.
A crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada, Ltd., was formed in 1952 to market the Canadian design. One of the strongest selling points was the CANDU reactor's unique ability to be refueled while operating. This helped the reactors achieve industry-leading performance in their early years.
The reactor's reliance on heavy water also made it a formidable producer of plutonium, which could be used to make nuclear weapons. And the plutonium can be extracted without shutting down the unit, and thus in comparative secrecy.
The first exports were to India, which assured Canada that the reactors would be used only for peaceful purposes. But in 1974, India exploded its first nuclear device. Although Canada was not alone in selling nuclear technology, it received stinging rebukes from Western leaders for being naive about atomic power.
"Canada sinned in that area but the excuse always was that we sin because everybody else sins," said Robert Bothwell, a University of Toronto historian who wrote a history of Canada's nuclear efforts.
Offering favorable loans and sometimes questionable fees, Canada sold reactors to Argentina's military junta, Pakistan and several of South Korea's rulers. Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, ordered five, but built only one.
The $3 billion deal with China last year ended a long period without sales, but there was little rejoicing in Canada. Environmental groups criticized the deal while human-rights activists opposed doing any business with China.
But then Ontario Hydro's reports last summer about conditions at its reactors in Canada raised questions about the ability of other countries to maintain the complex units.
Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a division of the U.N. headquartered in Vienna, said they had not received reports of serious safety problems at any of the CANDU sites. They have scheduled a thorough inspection of Argentina's reactors for the coming months.
But most of the countries that have bought CANDU reactors do not have independent nuclear regulators. Local reports suggest there have been mishaps with alarming regularity. The reactor in Argentina is regularly shut down to repair leaking pipes, and heavy water leaks at the reactor in South Korea have occurred so often that the operator, Korea Electric Power Corp., has ordered plant workers to wear masks packed with ice to block fumes.
"What you see in Canada is something that could happen not only in countries that run into financial difficulties but even in countries that don't encounter such difficulties," said Zigmung Domaratzki, deputy director general for nuclear safety at International Atomic Energy Agency and former director general of reactor regulation at Canada's Atomic Energy Control Board. "It certainly raises questions."
An engineer with Ontario Hydro who spoke on condition of anonymity said running the utilty's 20 CANDU reactors turned out to far more complex than expected. In the 1980s, the four oldest reactors at the Pickering station on Lake Ontario had to be repaired at huge expense. There was a long list of spills, leaks, and non-functioning valves.
Attitudes slid as well. A job at Ontario Hydro came to be known by workers as "hide and seek for a thousand dollars a week," because they spent so much time goofing off. Operators who were diligent about maintenance and repairs became reluctant to report technical problems.
"The shift supervisor made me feel like I was doing something wrong," said an engineer who once tried to report a minor infraction. "He told me, 'That's another nail in our coffin.' "
In 1984, 6 CANDU reactors were among the top 25 performers in the world, according to Nucleonics Weekly, a trade publication. In the latest performance survey last February, only 2 made the top 50 list.
That decline was noticed by the Atomic Energy Control Board, Canada's regulatory body. Citing a long list of problems, the board last year took the unusual step of renewing Hydro's nuclear license for only six months instead of two years.
Ontario Hydro executives heeded the warning. They ordered an extensive internal evaluation headed by an American nuclear expert, G. Carl Andognini.
The report, issued in August, included a terrifying list of mishaps and examples of sloppy management. The utility's nuclear plants were portrayed as dispirited places where rusting pipes were simply painted over and control room supervisors idled away their time playing computer games. Cigarette butts, empty beer bottles and marijuana were found in secure radiation areas.
"I don't think anybody understood the extent to which our management had sunk," Ontario Hydro's chairman, William Farlinger, said after the results were revealed. He called the utility's nuclear unit, "some sort of special nuclear cult."
The board almost immediately approved a recovery plan to shut down 7 plants and spend around $8 billion improving the remaining 12. Farlinger insisted the plants were safe. The problem was not with the reactors, he said, but the people who ran them.
But a section of the 15-volume study gives a different view.
"While no single observation or finding represents by itself a serious safety concern, the number and variety of the findings, when diagnosed from both a cumulative and an extent of condition perspective, may indicate some reduction of Ontario Hydro Nuclear's barriers that constitute the defense-in-depth approach to safe operation," the report said.
"What they're saying is that it may not be safe," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "With as many problems as they reported, I don't think you can say definitively that it is safe."
The seven reactors will be "laid up," indefinitely, that is, they can be restarted someday, although that seems doubtful. But hedging in this way allows the utility to delay the brutal cost of decommissioning the plant, which is a good thing in Ontario Hydro's case.
The company has been adding fees to consumers' bills to cover the decommissioning. But the $2 billion clean-up fund is empty now because the company used the money to reduce its more than $30 billion debt.
Reuters Environment News
PARIS - Cargo on a Panamanian-registered container ship which broke in two during an Atlantic storm earlier this week included medical equipment with radioactive components, France's Nuclear Safety Agency said on Friday.
A statement from the agency said the radioactive material cesium-137 was contained in separate quantities in three pieces of heavily-protected medical equipment in the front half of the Carla, owned by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
Rescuers plucked to safety all 34 crew after the Carla broke in two north of the Azores during the night of November 24-25 while sailing from Le Havre in France to the United States.
Both halves of the vessel are still afloat and are to be towed to Las Palmas, the French agency said, quoting MSC.
The seamen, most of them Italian, were airlifted by helicopter from the stern of the vessel where they took refuge after the 50,000-ton ship was smashed by the force of 10-metre high (30-foot) waves whipped up by gale-force winds.
Lloyds of London shipping service said the MSC Carla was on a voyage from Le Havre to Boston, Massachusetts, with about 3,000 containers on board.
Reuters Environment News
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Greenpeace was on Thursday barred for six months from obstructing shipments of radioactive waste from the Netherlands to Britain's Sellafield reprocessing plant.
Greenpeace said a Dutch court issued an injunction against the environmental pressure group at the request of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL), the state-owned operator of Sellafield. BNFL had sought an indefinite ban.
The court action followed demonstrations by Greenpeace against a shipment of waste from Dutch nuclear power plant Dodewaard in March.
The court threatened Greenpeace with a 100,000 guilder ($50,000) per day fine if it obstructed shipments in the six-month period. Greenpeace said the next shipment was expected in early December.
The presiding judge noted that parliament was due to debate in January whether Dutch radioactive waste should continue to be reprocessed or stored directly in the Netherlands.
Under the present policy some 18 further shipments are due to be sent from Dodewaard to Sellafield by 2000.
The Netherlands closed Dodewaard, one of two atomic power plants in the Netherlands in March, but there is a backlog of waste due to be sent to Sellafield for reprocessing.
Greenpeace said it did not plan to break the injunction. ($1= 1.99 Dutch guilders)
Reuters Environment News
By Irene Marushko
KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma said on Saturday that $337 million pledged by various countries was enough money to start repair work on the leaking cover enclosing Chernobyl's destroyed fourth reactor.
An international conference held in New York earlier this week pledged a contribution of $37 million to help fix the "sarcophagus" hurriedly constructed after the 1986 accident.
The G7 group of industrialised nations earlier promised $300 million for the project while Ukraine will contribute another $150 million.
"Including Ukraine's contribution this is enough to begin wide-ranging work on the structure, the sarcophagus," Kuchma told a news conference after returning from the United States, where he also met U.S.Vice-President Al Gore.
But he did not detail where cash-strapped Ukraine would obtain all the money for the sarcophagus reconstruction plan, estimated to cost $760 million and consisting of 22 technically complex and perhaps hazardous projects.
"The most important political result was that we were able to push forward the issues surrounding this global catastrophe and to demonstrate the absolute necessity of solving the problems of fixing the sarcophagus," Kuchma said in reference to the New York conference.
Kuchma's statements signalled a turnaround from Ukraine's complaints that the funding wasn't enough, after G7 countries decided in June to give Ukraine only $300 million instead of the $700 million it had expected.
Chernobyl's fourth reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, sending a cloud of radiation over Ukraine and parts of Belarus, Russia and Europe. Crews of "liquidators" dumped concrete on to the reactor to form a tomb to contain leaking radiation.
Questions remain on how best to repair the concrete covering which scientific studies have shown may be leaking radiation.
"The problem of constructing a cover is not a problem to be solved in one year, but in 10," Kuchma said, adding that many studies remained to be done on how to prop up the crumbling structure.
"There are still 30 tonnes of nuclear fuel missing. Where are they? Are they inside, or where?" he said.
Ukraine, which has reported 4,300 deaths and large numbers of children vulnerable to thyroid cancer since the disaster, has promised to close Chernobyl's last operating reactor by the year 2000 in exchange for $3.1 billion in funding from international donours.
Kuchma said there were discussions at the conference on forming an international fund to help Ukraine-- independent since 1991 but left to pay for the Soviet-era disaster -- contend with the aftermath of the disaster.
Reuters Environment News
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dozens of nations on Thursday pledged an additional $37 million toward rebuilding the rapidly deteriorating concrete tomb of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, scene of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986.
Officials said the money raised at a conference in New York will enable work to begin immediately on the sarcophagus built in haste after the April 26, 1986 accident that spewed radioactive fallout across the northern hemisphere with consequences still being felt more than 11 years later.
"Let us, the community of nations begin a new journey, an historic journey for a more secure and safe future for Chernobyl," U.S. Vice President Al Gore said in a speech to delegates from more than 40 countries.
Twelve countries, the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the European Community have to date pledged close to half the estimated $760 million cost of the reconstruction plan, which consists of 22 technically complex and potentially hazardous projects.
A videotape presentation at the conference reminded delegates of the horrors of the explosion at Chernobyl's number 4 reactor that killed 31 people, injured hundreds, and forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes near the nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union.
Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma told delegates Chernobyl remained "a particularly poignant and painful issue" for his country and he blasted the "conduct of the totalitarian regime" in the former Soviet Union.
"The people of Ukraine paid a heavy price for the actions of Soviet authorities, taken without accounting for the opinions or concerns of Ukrainians," Kuchma said through an interpreter.
Russia was notably absent from the list of donors. A senior U.S. administration official said Washington "was interested to know why they have no need to share in this common responsibility. I will have to see and check, but I don't know why. They are strapped for funds themselves."
The same official said the $37 million pledged on Thursday was expected, but he added there was a "big chunk of money that has to be found" to meet the total cost of the plan.
Ukraine, which intends to permanently close the remaining operational units of the Chernobyl plant by 2000, is contributing $150 million but it cannot meet the total price tag without assistance from the international community.
Kuchma also outlined the human cost -- 160,000 people evacuated from villages, towns and farms, 180,000 hectares (444,800 acres) of unusable land, 170,000 hectares (420,100 acres) of contaminated woodland and the "impact on the genetic assets" of Ukraine.
Eleven years after the accident, children in Eastern Europe are at greater risk of thyroid cancer and other diseases. Thousands of the more than half a million workers involved in the cleanup died of diseases and there is an 18-mile (30 km) exclusion zone around the plant.
"Today we must act as a world community because the current sarcophagus is aging and needs to be replaced," U.S. Energy Secretary Federico Pena said in an opening statement to the conference. "The roof is leaking, radioactive waste could be leaking into water supplies and we cannot rule out the possibility of a chain reaction from the remnants of the collapsed reactor."
Pena, who along with Ukraine Minister for Environment and Nuclear Safety Yuri Kostenko urged immediate action, told delegates that there was also a danger of the structure collapsing, causing an even greater disaster.
Thursday's meeting was called under an agreement in June at the Denver summit of leaders of the G-7 and Russia. The Shelter Implementation Plan consists of 22 projects to transform the sarcophagus into a safer and more environmentally stable condition by 2005 and is being administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Reuters Environment News
By Neil Fullick
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - When the world's top athletes arrive in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, their living quarters will be powered by the sun.
By the same time, 400 remote villages in the Philippines will be decked in solar panels built by energy giant British Petroleum & Co Plc.
Currently, at its laboratories in Vancouver, Canada, Ballard Power Systems Inc is developing a fuel cell for cars that produces no harmful emissions to the environment.
The company has already signed a $333-million-deal with Daimler-Benz AG to bring an electric car to the market in eight years.
Japanese car makers are pursuing similar goals.
At the end of October, EnergyAustralia started a huge wind turbine in New South Wales to generate 600 kilowatts of power.
And China -- the world's second biggest polluter after the United States -- is damming the Yangtze to build an 18,200-megawatt power station using water as its fuel. That is almost twice the current capacity powering the whole of the Philippines.
The world over, industry, governments and voters are increasingly talking about so-called clean fuels to cut back on the 22 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions the Paris-based International Energy Agency says is pumped into the world's atmosphere each year.
As Asia and the rest of the world step into the next century, awareness of the environment and the search for clean fuels, is likely to be a key factor shaping the energy sector.
Already some of the world's biggest energy companies have pledged investments of billions of dollars to develop clean fuels and are looking to work more closely with environmental groups.
Royal Dutch Shell has said it will pour half a billion dollars in the next five years into development of renewable energy.
In a similar vein, BP plans to invest a billion dollars each year over the next decade.
Japan, which imports almost all of its energy, has pledged that half of all new homes will be solar powered by 2010.
But while concern for the environment is growing, the hard reality is that the world will rely on hydrocarbons -- oil, gas and coal -- for most of its energy needs well into the next century, industry analysts said.
In most cases, it is still too costly to use energy that produces no harmful emissions. And that will essentially stay the same for years to come.
The world would require a massive structural change before hydrocarbons become a thing of the past.
"You have to think of when things can be replaced," said one analyst, who requested anonymity. "A car lasts 10 years plus, a power station 20 years plus and houses 30 years or more."
Until the main pillars of energy use start to be renewed, it is unlikely that oil, coal and gas will be dismantled from their joint pedestal as the world's engine.
For now, the financial cost of using hydrocarbons is far cheaper than alternative energy -- in most cases.
The sun that hits the earth each day contains 6,000 times as much energy as is used by all the countries combined, Christopher Flavin, senior vice president at Worldwatch Institute, recently wrote in a Time article.
But the cost of converting a home to solar panels is still too much compared to the cost of supplying electricity from a hydrocarbon-fuelled power station, analysts said.
The growth in renewable energy is likely to grow faster in Europe and North America, "where they can afford that luxury," one energy consultant said.
But hydropower, nuclear power, solar and wind are unlikely to see any major inroads into the Asian energy mix, analysts said.
"'The smell of poverty is worse than the smell of pollution' sums up the position for many Asian countries," one analyst said.
The main growth in Asian energy demand will come from China, India and Indonesia, countries with huge populations driving their economies forward.
But the cost of development is likely to mean that environmental considerations will take second place to cost considerations.
British energy consultants Wood Mackenzie sees little change in Asia's energy mix in the years leading to 2015 -- the outer reaches of its forecasting.
It said coal represented 45 percent of energy demand in 1995 and will only drop to 43 percent by 2015.
Oil represents 38.5 percent and will drop to 34.5 percent, while gas will grow to 12.7 percent from 8.4 percent.
Hydropower will grow to 2.5 percent from 1.8 percent, although the development of China's Three Gorges project is likely to make the proportion higher.
Nuclear will grow to 6.5 percent from five percent in 1995.
"Fundamentally, coal would continue to command the same sort of share of the mix that it does now," Wood Mackenzie's Robert Jones said.
"There is no question in any one's mind that coal resources are considerably more substantial than they are for any other fossil fuel."
This is likely to be most noticeable in China, India and Indonesia, three countries that sit on 69 percent of Asia's 311.49 billion tonnes of coal reserves.
The key feature to marry the environmental concerns with the need for hydrocarbons globally will be the ability of technology to limit harmful emissions, rather than any effort to switch off hydrocarbon use.
Already, most Asian countries are cutting down sharply on fuels with high contents of sulphur or lead -- two major pollutants.
The future is being further shaped by governments the world over, which are trying to coordinate a global cut in harmful emissions -- blamed for global warming.
Leaders of the world's largest economies will meet in December in Kyoto, Japan, to try to set targets for 2010 for cutting emissions.
These decisions will most likely hit transport the hardest. A major portion of oil is turned into transport fuels and transport is the biggest cause of harmful emissions.
Major car producers are trying to keep pace with political push for greener fuels. The cars on the road in the next decade or so might look the same on the outside, but inside they will be significantly different.
The initial push by car makers is to produce a hybrid engine, one that uses both a battery and a fossil-fuel engine to work.
Zero emission electric cars are already on the roads, but they cost more than conventional cars and have a limited range before the battery needs replenishing. There are few electric stations to top up battery power and the topping up takes time.
The hybrid uses a battery for fuel at slow speeds, but switches to a gasoline or diesel power for medium to high speeds.
But a third option is fast developing that could result in cars without emissions.
Canada's Ballard has developed a fuel cell that uses natural gas, methanol or hydrogen for fuel.
Its tie-up with Daimler aims to bring a mass-produced car to the market in eight years, but key will be reducing the cost by a factor of 100 so that the cars can compete with traditional gasoline engines.
The Economist Intelligence Unit in London forecast earlier this year that conventional gasoline engines would provide 90 percent of car power for the next 15 years.
Reuters Environment News
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is offering $78 million to help shore up the so-called "sarcophagus" that shelters the fatally damaged Chernobyl nuclear reactor, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The U.S. contribution is part of $300 million committed by the European Commission and the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations, the officials said at a briefing. The total cost of the project is $760 million, with a view to shutting down Chernobyl by the year 2000.
Calling the April 26, 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine "the worst civilian disaster since the atom was split," John Holum, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said the hastily built sarcophagus that covers the damaged reactor is ripe for problems.
"(The shelter) was built in great haste and under tremendously trying conditions -- it was a temporary answer," Holum said.
"That shelter is in danger, parts are becoming increasingly unstable ... Over 90 percent of the radiation that was caused by the initial explosion is still inside the shelter, so there's a great risk of another accident," he said.
While Ukraine, where Chernobyl is located, is contributing $50 million in kind to the project, it will need help paying for it.
To line up contributions, U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma will co-chair a conference in New York City on Thursday. Fifty potential contributor nations have been invited.
Volodymyr Belashov, a counselor at Ukraine's embassy in Washington, outlined the nature of the potential threat posed by the reactor.
"Almost 200 tons of nuclear fuel, containing matter including enriched uranium and plutonium that remain in the uncontrollable state under the cover, above the destroyed reactor, now (present the) potential of a new nuclear accident," Belashov said.
The project, aimed at transforming the plant into an ecologically safe system, will have four phases, according to Carol Kessler, the U.S. State Department's senior coordinator for nuclear reactor safety.
The first step will be to stabilize the existing structure, removing some of the most unstable walls and roofs; then concrete shielding will be put around the damaged reactor, with alleyway access for robots, Kessler said.
After that, an environmentally sound cover will be put in place to keep off rain and snow, which she said was especially crucial because water can produce chain reactions in highly radioactive material, such as that still at Chernobyl.
Finally, Kessler said, the project aims to help Ukraine develop a strategy to manage highly radioactive material.
Ukraine has said that 4,300 people died as a direct result of the 1986 accident.
Reuters Environment News
KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's top Chernobyl negotiator on Monday accused the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) of playing "political games" over plans to shut the Chernobyl nuclear plant by the year 2000.
Ukraine is waiting for funding from the bank to build two new reactors to replace energy lost from shutting Chernobyl, in line with a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Group of Seven main industrial countries (G-7) last December.
But the bank's experts later said the plans to complete reactors at Rivne and Khmelnytsky nuclear plants in western Ukraine did not meet its strict financial criteria.
"The EBRD is making its umpteenth study. These are political games, not painstaking work by the bank on allocating the credit to Ukraine," Environment Minister Yuri Kostenko said.
"We could otherwise have two extremely modern reactors which could work for 30-40 years," he told a news conference.
Kiev says completing construction of the reactors will cost $300-350 million apiece but the experts said it would cost at least twice that figure.
Without this cash, "it would be very difficult to shut down all of Chernobyl's reactors," Kostenko said.
"Those who delay credits also delay the decision on Chernobyl's closure," he added.
Ukrainian officials periodically say they might be forced to open one of three non-working reactors of the four at Chernobyl if the provision of funding does not speed up.
The sole working reactor, No. 3, provides five percent of the country's electricity but is shut for repairs until April.
It was reactor No. 4 which blew up in April 1986, sending a vast cloud of radioactive dust across much of Europe.
Kostenko said Kiev had asked the EBRD to provide a "clear answer" this year on whether the bank would take part in the project. "If not we would look for other sources," he added.
Prime Minister Valery Pustovoitenko said last week during a visit by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais that Moscow had been asked to help fund the R-4 and K-2 units.
"We are talking not just about the participation of Russian builders but also about Russian investments," said Pustovoitenko, adding that the proposal did not mean Ukraine was turning down EBRD funding.
"But at present international obligations have not been fulfilled and we must take the decision by ourselves," he said.
Kiev has also recently sent proposals to unspecified "states with nuclear industries" for completion, Kostenko said.
"But Russia has the biggest possibility of technical credits by supplying spare parts," he added.
Experts say 75 percent of nuclear equipment for the type of reactors at Rivne and Khmelnytsky, VVERs, are made in Russia.
Both Pustovoitenko and Kostenko have said Ukraine would complete the reactors by itself whatever happened.
"We can find the funds here but only by privatising the nuclear industry," Kostenko said without elaborating.
The newly-independent state's five nuclear plants produce half its electricity, supplying a population of 51 million.
Kostenko said President Leonid Kuchma would raise the question of the reactors with U.S. Vice-President Al Gore this week at an international conference on Chernobyl in New York.