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Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Analysing safety of nuclear power in conflict zones

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant ‘not designed to withstand fighting’. A
scientist in Ukraine warns that the reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear
power station is designed to protect against some threats, but not
shelling. One nuclear scientist working in Ukraine, who asked to remain
anonymous, told New Scientist that the reactors at the ZNPP are built to a
more modern design – known as VVER-1000 – than those at the Chernobyl
nuclear power plant, with a better containment structure, but that there
are still risks from nearby fighting.

“Normally, the design of
containment should resist an external impact like the crash of an airplane.
The concrete shell of VVER-1000 containment is about 1.2 metres thick,”
he says. “However, the safety of a nuclear power plant is not only down
to the containment of the reactor itself; it’s also the work of auxiliary
equipment that ensures the cooling of the reactor and spent fuel. We have
to keep in mind that [a] loss of power caused the accident in Fukushima [in
Japan in 2011].”

Aside from the reactor, there is also liquid and solid
radioactive waste stored on site. If damaged during shelling, this could
cause a radiation leak to the environment, the nuclear scientist says.
“The plant is designed to be protected from terrorist threats, but not
[from] military fighting. All should be done to avoid any chance of
fighting, not only at the plant site, but in all the areas around,” he

New Scientist 16th Aug 2022

In March, Russian forces took control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power
plant and its satellite town. Olexiy Kovynyev, independent expert, former
reactor operator and shift supervisor, reflects on the events and what it
meant for the safety of nuclear power in conflict zones.

NS Energy 16th Aug 2022

August 17, 2022 - Posted by | safety, Ukraine

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