Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: everything you need to know | Ukraine


What is the meaning of this power plant?

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, built between 1984 and 1995, is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the ninth largest in the world. It has six reactors, each generating 950 MW, and a total output of 5,700 MW, enough power for around four million homes.

In normal times, it produces a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity and almost half of the energy produced by the country’s nuclear power plants.

The plant is located in southeastern Ukraine in Enerhodar on the banks of the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnieper. It lies about 200 km from the disputed Donbass region and 550 km southeast of Kiev.

location map

What happened Friday morning?

A fire broke out in a training building outside the factory in the early hours of Friday after it was shelled by Russian forces, Ukrainian authorities said.

The first report came from a plant employee, who posted on Telegram that Russian forces had fired on the facility and that there was “a real threat of nuclear danger at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe”.

Ukraine’s foreign minister confirmed the reports at 2:30 a.m., tweeting that the Russian military was “firing from all sides at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. The fire has already broken out. He called for an immediate ceasefire to allow firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

Shortly after, the Ukrainian state emergency service reported that radiation at the plant was “within normal limits” and that fire conditions at the plant were “normal”. He said the fire started in a building outside the power station.

They later reported that the plant’s third power unit had been disconnected at 2:26 a.m., leaving only one of the plant’s six units, unit four, still in operation.

Early reports of the power station incident sent Asian financial markets soaring, with stocks tumbling and oil prices rising further.

A fire breaks out at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine – video
A fire breaks out at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine – video

Is there a radiological threat?

Ukrainian authorities said on Friday morning that the facility was secure and that “nuclear safety is now guaranteed”.

Earlier, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Ukraine’s regulator had told the agency there were “no reported changes in radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant site.” .

The United States also said its latest information showed no indication of high radiation levels at the plant. US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the reactors “are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are shut down safely.”

Russia has already seized the defunct Chernobyl plant, 100 km north of Kiev. Some analysts have noted that the Zaporizhzhia plant is a different and safer type from Chernobyl, which was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

The risks of an explosion, nuclear meltdown or radioactive release are low, said Tony Irwin, honorary associate professor at the Australian National University.

Irwin, who operated nuclear power stations in the UK for three decades, is a former director of the Australian Open Pool Light Water Reactor (OPAL), Australia’s only nuclear reactor.

He said the PWR reactors are “much safer” than the Chernobyl reactors and do not appear to be damaged yet. The reactors have large concrete contaminants and built-in fire protection systems, he said, adding:

“Obviously it’s not a good idea if you start firing massive missiles at reactors,” he said. “The REP [pressurised water reactor] type is a much safer type of reactor because it is a two-circuit design reactor. The water that keeps the reactor cool is on a circuit separate from the second, which actually feeds the turbine and the exterior.

“These reactors also have backup emergency cooling systems. In addition to normal reactor cooling, they have a passive system, they have high pressure injection systems, they have low pressure injection systems.


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