Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Safe Amidst Dam Explosion, Short-Term Risk Minimal


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catastrophic Nova Kakhovka dam explosion

Following the catastrophic Nova Kakhovka dam explosion and subsequent flooding in southern Ukraine, experts confirm that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located upstream approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the dam, remains stable and faces no immediate risk. The plant relies on water from the Kakhovka reservoir for cooling, which has been gradually depleting since the explosion.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Experts consulted by DW and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously assert that the explosion has had a negligible impact on the Zaporizhzhia plant’s security in the short term. Since the plant has been offline for the past eight months, it doesn’t require the typical volume of cooling water. When a nuclear plant is shut down, its water needs decrease significantly. Even after eight months, the residual heat is less than 10th of 1%, requiring only a small amount of cooling water.

In addition to its own cooling pond, the Zaporizhzhia plant has backup pools and mobile pumping units, providing engineers ample time to redirect water sources if necessary. IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi emphasizes that the risk to the plant remains low as long as the cooling pond remains intact, urging all parties to safeguard its integrity.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

In the short term, the plant can obtain water from the backup pools, which can be replenished from the on-site retention basin. However, in the long term, engineers will need to redirect the water source, potentially from the Dnipro River, requiring extensive pipe work.

French Institute for Radiation Protection

The French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety warns that a drop in the Dnipro’s water level could compromise the plant’s retention basin, leading to leakage or even the collapse of the surrounding dike. Monitoring of the water level and retention basin’s integrity will be crucial in the coming days.

While the immediate risk is deemed minimal, ensuring the long-term stability of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant may necessitate mitigation measures, such as reinforcing the dike and securing alternative water sources.


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