One of the two reactors of its nuclear power plant Zaporizhia that remained operational was shut down due to Russian bombing, Ukrainian operator Energoatom announced.
“As a result of yet another shelling by Russian (…) forces against the Zaporizhia nuclear plant site, emergency protection was activated and the fifth power plant was shut down,” Energoatom said on Telegram.
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Energoatom added that “power unit 6 is still operating” and provides the electricity needed by the nuclear plant.
The IAEA mission left for the nuclear power plant amid shelling
At the same time, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission left Zaporizhia and is heading to the nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, despite reports of heavy shelling there.
The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said he had been informed “of the increased military activity in the area” but added that he would not change his plans to visit the nuclear plant and meet with its staff.
However, Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of is shelling Enerhodar today and specifically along the road that the mission of the International Organization will follow.
“The Russians are launching artillery strikes against the route the IAEA mission will take to get to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant,” which is in Russian hands, the city’s exiled mayor Dmytro Orlov complained on Telegram. He estimated that the mission cannot “continue its way” to the station “for security reasons”.
“We demand that Russia stop the provocations and allow the IAEA access to this Ukrainian nuclear facility,” Orlov stressed.
Already, since dawn, the Russians “opened fire on Enerhodar with mortars, automatic weapons and rocket launchers,” Orlov had reported on Telegram. His post was accompanied by photos of damaged buildings and plumes of black smoke.
It’s not Chernobyl but…
No one knows what the extent of the destruction will be from a possible missile strike on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, with however, concern for new… Chernobyl is more evident than ever.
As the Telegraph notes, Zaporizhia is much sturdier in construction than Soviet-era Chernobyl and has been strengthened in recent years, but it is certainly not built to withstand bombing, which is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.
Its builders have predicted that in the event of a power outage, which is necessary to cool the nuclear reactors – two of the six are operating – and prevent a catastrophic explosion, the many diesel generators located on the site will come into operation, such as and it happened on Thursday.
After the American 9/11, the Ukrainians added a cement and steel power line, two meters thick, in case of a terrorist attack and a plane crash at the nuclear plant. There is also another internal explosion-proof steel firewall, but whether it can prevent destruction from a missile strike is unknown.
The conversions were made based on the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for the construction of nuclear plants.
According to experts, it makes no sense for any side to deliberately destroy the nuclear power plant, but in the worst-case scenario, where all power systems would cease to function, it is possible that either the reactors or the stored spent fuel could catch fire as it shuts down. their cooling.
As Amelie Stotzel, a doctoral candidate at King’s College London, an expert in nuclear safety, told the British newspaper, in this case, the radioactive ash can travel to other places, depending on the direction of the wind. The extent of the destruction will depend on what kind of fuel is being burned or which part of the reactor.
However, she is reassuring and points out that this is not likely to increase radioactivity in Europe. “It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say it’s going to be Chernobyl number two and we’re all going to die. Such a thing is not possible,” he said characteristically.
Things will be much worse if a reactor explodes. But the chances of that happening are very small, according to the Telegraph, thanks to the design of the reactor. For an explosion to occur, the dual cooling mechanism must stop working or the water must evaporate or leak.
“Then the fuel will overheat and can lead to its core collapsing. In the worst-case scenario, we’ll see a build-up of hydrogen, which can lead to an explosion, but for that to happen, a lot of things have to go wrong,” Stotzel said.
A spokesman for the American Nuclear Association pointed out that all of this is unlikely to happen and that even “in the extremely unlikely event of a radioactive release”, there would be no threat to the world because the amount of radioactivity that would be released would be minimal compared to Chernobyl .
“It is extremely difficult to imagine a scenario where there is widespread radioactivity in the atmosphere that would threaten public health,” he said.
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