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Updated: March 15, 2011 21:12 IST

Putin orders review of nuclear plants

Vladimir Radyuhin
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listens to Rosatom (State Nuclear Energy Corporation) head, Sergei Kiriyenko, right, during a meeting to discuss nuclear energy following the earthquake in Japan which damaged nuclear plants, in HIS Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.
AP
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin listens to Rosatom (State Nuclear Energy Corporation) head, Sergei Kiriyenko, right, during a meeting to discuss nuclear energy following the earthquake in Japan which damaged nuclear plants, in HIS Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered a review of the country’s nuclear industry even as Russian experts predicted a new meltdown at the stricken Japanese nuclear plant.

Mr. Putin on Tuesday gave a month to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear corporation, and other related agencies to report on the current state and development plans of the Russian nuclear industry.

The Russian Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety said there was “a high degree of active zone meltdown” in the second reactor at Japan’s Fukushima-1 nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, Russia's nuclear chief complained that Russian nuclear experts could not get permission to go to Japan.

Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko complained to Mr. Putin that a group of Russian nuclear experts dispatched to Japan were stuck in Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East.

“Our experts have been sitting in Khabarovsk for 10 hours because their plane is not getting permission to fly to Japan,” Mr. Kiriyenko said.

A crisis group set up at Rosatom to monitor the situation at Japan’s nuclear plants earlier said the information coming from Japan was “extremely insufficient” and was not supplied on a regular basis.

Moscow has promised to step up energy shipments to Japan to help it make up for the shortfall of electricity supplies.

Russia will ship to Japan additionally 200,000 tons of liquefied natural gas from its Sakhalin-2 fields in April and May, said Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. The LNG shipments will be diverted from other Russian customers. Russia will also increase coal supplies to Japan by 3 to 4 million tons and may redirect some 6,000 megawatts of electricity to Japan, Mr. Sechin said.

“It is possible to further step up hydrocarbon deliveries to Japan,” he said in televised remarks.

Experts said Russia may increase piped gas supplies to Europe so that some Europe-bound LNG shipments from Malaysia and Indonesia can be redirected to Japan.

Russia is sending 200 rescue workers to Japan to help look for survivors in quake- and tsunami-hit areas.

Russia’s nationalist political leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky invited displaced Japanese families to come and settle in Russia.

“The Japanese islands are not suitable for permanent residence, they are extremely vulnerable to national disasters,” he said in a statement posted on his party's website.

“Russia will benefit if these hard-working people join us, especially because historically some Russian ethnic groups have common roots with the Japanese.”

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