Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company warned on Wednesday that radioactive material could be released from the decommissioned Chernobyl facility because it cannot cool spent nuclear fuel after its power supply was cut.
According to Energoatom, Russian forces have shut down Ukraine’s power plant – the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
“Due to military actions by the Russian occupiers, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was completely disconnected from the power grid,” said system operator NPC Ukrenergo. according to Interfax Ukraine.
“The nuclear power plant has no power supply. The military actions are ongoing, so there is no way to restore the lines,” it said.
The plant operator warned that without electricity, the cooling systems required for the fuel would fail.
“As a result of the temperature in the spent fuel elements, radioactive substances are released into the environment. Wind can transmit a radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe,” the company said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday urged international leaders to pressure Russia to “cease fire and allow repair units to restore power.”
“Backup diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power Chernobyl NPP,” he says wrote on Twitter.
“After that, the cooling systems of the spent nuclear fuel storage facility will be shut down, making radiation leaks imminent. Putin’s barbaric war is endangering all of Europe. He has to stop this immediately!”
Ukrainian authorities do not know the level of radiation at Chernobyl, Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Wednesday.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, “indicated that data transmission from safety monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been lost,” the agency said in a statement.
“The agency is investigating the status of security monitoring systems at other locations in Ukraine and will provide more information soon,” she added.
The IAEA uses the term “safeguards” to describe measures it employs on nuclear materials and activities – with the aim of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons through early detection.
More than 200 workers and guards remain trapped at the site, where the situation for staff “was getting worse,” the IAEA said, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.
The UN agency urged Russia to allow staff to rotate, saying rest periods and regular shifts are vital to the site’s security.
“I am deeply concerned by the difficult and stressful situation faced by workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this poses to nuclear safety,” Grossi said.
“I urge the forces that effectively control the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there,” he added.
The facility has been under Russian control since the first day of the Russian invasion on February 24.
On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had lost contact with the plant’s safety monitoring system. According to CNN, the site is currently not operational.
More than 2,000 employees still work at the facility because it needs constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster that killed hundreds and spread the radioactive contamination westward across Europe.
The decommissioned facility is located in an exclusion zone that houses decommissioned reactors and radioactive waste facilities.
Last week, Russia also seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhia, drawing accusations of “nuclear terror” from Kyiv.
Zaporizhia has six reactors that are more modern and safer than Chernobyl.
The IAEA said two of those reactors are still operational, plant personnel work shifts and radiation levels have remained stable.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/03/09/ukraine-nuclear-company-warns-of-chernobyl-radiation-risk/ Ukrainian nuclear company warns of nuclear radiation in Chernobyl