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Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are still a source of nightmares years after the Chornobyl disaster

CNBC, APR 26 2023

  • It’s been 37 years since the disastrous and deadly explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union.
  • The disaster in 1986 is still considered the world’s worst ever nuclear disaster.
  • Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are still a source of concern as the war continues.

…………………………………………………………………………..The disaster is still seen as the most serious accident in the history of nuclear power operation although Ukraine has remained heavily dependent on nuclear energy.

Today, its nuclear power plants have once again become a source of nightmares as fears abound for their safety and security amid the relentless fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

Ukraine has 15 operable nuclear reactors at four plants that generate about half of its electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association, although since the war started last February, the number of units in operation has changed over time, “with reactors put online and taken offline depending on the situation around the plants and the stability of external power supplies,” the association notes.

Most concerns around the safe functioning of the country’s power plants amid war have centered on the the nuclear power plant located in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, which also happens to be Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

The Zaporizhzhia plant was occupied early on in the war by Russian forces (when it was attacked in the early hours of March 2 last year, it became the first operating civil nuclear power plant to come under armed attack) and it has repeatedly found itself at the epicenter of fighting since then, with both sides accusing each other of shelling near the facility and risking another potentially catastrophic nuclear accident.

There have been a number of occasions now when shelling near the plant has damaged external power lines to the facility, meaning that Ukrainian workers still running the plant have had to rely on emergency generators for the power needed for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions.

The IAEA’s Director-General Rafael Grossi described the unstable conditions that the plant is forced to operate in as “extremely concerning,” noting that “this is clearly not a sustainable way to operate a major nuclear facility.”

He has often repeated calls for the establishment of a demilitarized zone around the plant but, for now, that remains a distant prospect, although the IAEA was able to convince Russia to allow its inspectors to remain permanently on site to monitor safety at the plant. The IAEA has also sent inspectors to other nuclear facilities in Ukraine…………………………………………..

April 27, 2023 - Posted by | safety, Ukraine

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