Ukraine Nuclear Power Plants Under Increased Attack
Russian bombing has forced the Rivne nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine to reduce power. Bombing nearby risked damage to the power grid, the reduction of power was done as a safety margin in case the regional grid suddenly went down.
The Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine saw a reactor go into automatic shutdown after Russia bombed the power plant. Plant staff reported no damage to critical systems at the plant. Reactors can go into SCRAM (a safety-related automatic shutdown) due to extreme movement or fluctuations in reactor system readings.
The more concerning development this week was a new report that Russia is draining the lake that supplies cooling water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russian occupiers opened water discharge gates on the downstream dam to drain the lake. The region around the nuclear plant and on that side of the river is occupied by Russian forces preventing Ukraine from doing anything to mitigate the problem. The lake was currently at 14 meters, if it drops to below 13.2 meters, the plant would risk being unable to cool the reactors.
Operational reactors require significant amounts of constant cooling water from a nearby water source. Reactors that are shut down continue to need cooling water to keep the reactor core cooled and for spent fuel pool cooling. Losing cooling water becomes a significant emergency even if the entire plant is shut down. Officials said the plant isn’t in immediate danger but are closely watching the water level on the lake. It is worth noting that the main cause of the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi was the inability to cool the reactors. While that was different circumstances the risk is the same.
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