‘Could be felt far beyond Ukraine!’ Zaporizhzhia nuclear disaster ‘imminent’ amid fighting

Ukraine: Nuclear incident is 'imminent' says plant worker

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A nuclear disaster at a nuclear plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia is “imminent”, a CNN correspondent reports, as Russians have rejected calls for a complete demilitarisation of the area – leaving the nuclear plant more vulnerable to shelling and fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Despite calls by the international community and the UN to protect the nuclear plant, the plant is still exposed. According to a simulation by the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute, radioactive particles could spread to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries in a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

Speaking from Zaporizhzhia, CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley said: “Ukrainians have been conducting nuclear disaster drills in cities nearby.

“And both sides have said that some kind of incident is imminent and could cause massive radioactive contamination or a meltdown.

“A cataclysm that could be felt far beyond Ukraine, even in nearby Russia.

“Now that is really the military picture but there’s also a technical issue here, potentially endangering the nuclear power plant, which is that Russian technicians have been brought in by Moscow to run it alongside Ukrainian technicians who are effectively hostages there.”

“Although many believe that they should be staying on in order to protect the facility,” CNN’s Kiley said.

“And there are also Russian plans – they’ve announced plans – to shift its product of electricity to Crimea.

“Now, if they were to try to do that, a number of potential chain reactions could unfold.

“And it’s one of those breakdowns in the cooling system, particularly for these reactors, that the technical authorities are most worried about.”

If technicians fail to avert a nuclear disaster, there could be localised increases in reactivity with the reactor, leading to a rupture of fuel channels. That rupture could ultimately result in a melting of the reactor core. 

In a desperate bid to ease tensions between Russia and Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on both sides to stop hostilities around Europe’s largest nuclear plant.

42 countries joined him in urging Russia to pull out its troops from the Nuclear Power Plant.

Scientists of the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine performed a simulation of the spread of radiation from a hypothetical accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP under the meteorological conditions of 15-18 August 2022.

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If a nuclear disaster were to happen in that timeframe, “the highest concentrations of radioactive aerosols can be observed within the territory of Ukraine, especially in the zone closest to the emission source, with a radius of 50-100 km in almost all directions from the ZNPP,” the report says.

The radiation could spread to European countries like the Baltic States, Poland and the eastern part of Belarus, the scientists add.

“Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Mr Guterres warned.

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