Ukrainian intelligence claims that Russia has begun removing staff and troops from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Ukrainian staff that signed contracts with Rosatom were also told to evacuate.
Claims that Russia has not just placed landmines around the plant’s cooling ponds but around the reactor buildings raised concerns that Russia plans to damage the plant in a terror attack.
Quoted in the Guardian article, a former plant engineer claimed destruction of the cooling system would only result in a partial meltdown and no release of radiation from the plant. This is wildly unrealistic as the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi confirmed. Without the ability to effectively cool the reactors, it would be unlikely that measures could be taken that would avert a full-on disaster. Zaporizhzhia does not possess a backup cooling system that can push the volume of water that the plant’s intake systems do. One factor that may help is that the reactors have been shut down for months. This only buys so much additional margin as was seen at Unit 5 at Fukushima Daiichi. This reactor was shut down for maintenance and testing but still had fuel in the core. It took a few days but this reactor began to go over pressure and build up heat due to the loss of cooling. At one point there were concerns Unit 5 would suffer a similar fate to the other reactors at Daiichi.
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