Radioactive substances could be released from Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant because it cannot cool spent nuclear fuel after its power connection was severed, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said on Wednesday.
It said fighting made it impossible to immediately repair the high-voltage power line to the plant, which was captured by Russian forces after the Kremlin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, reuters reports on Wednesday afternoon.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister warned that diesel generators could only operate for 48 ours stressing that after this period, the cooling systems will stop and radiation leaks would be imminent.
Reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the Chornobyl NPP. After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent. Putin’s barbaric war puts entire Europe in danger. He must stop it immediately! 2/2
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 9, 2022
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency:
#Ukraine has informed IAEA of power loss at #Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, @rafaelmgrossi says development violates key safety pillar on ensuring uninterrupted power supply; in this case IAEA sees no critical impact on safety.
— IAEA – International Atomic Energy Agency (@iaeaorg) March 9, 2022
According to the reuters report, Energoatom said there were about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies at Chernobyl that could not be kept cool amid a power outage.
Their warming could lead to “the release of radioactive substances into the environment. The radioactive cloud could be carried by wind to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Europe,” it said in a statement.
Without power, ventilation systems at the plant would also not be working, exposing staff to dangerous doses of radiation, it added.
On Tuesday, the U.N. nuclear watchdog warned that the systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl had stopped transmitting data.
The still-radioactive site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster lies some 100 km (62 miles) from Kyiv.
Its fourth reactor exploded in April 1986 during a botched safety test, sending clouds of radiation billowing across much of Europe, reuters recalls.
PS Snow weather front Philip and the cold air masses are coming from north-eastern Europe, that is from Ukraine, Greece’s meteorologists have said.