The world's reaction to the blowing up of the dam in Nova Kakhovka was insufficient. And next will be the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. “It's a pre-announced crime,” says Ukrainian expert.
On June 22, 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian intelligence and the Security Service of Ukraine had received information about a possible terrorist attack by Russia at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant.
Two days earlier, Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, reported that the Russians had mined the power plant's cooling tank. And that means more risk.
As of September 2022, only one of the six UAE units is in hot shutdown, the rest are in cold shutdown (we explain what this means below). Despite this, all reactors still need water for cooling to prevent fuel meltdown and possible release of radioactive materials.
During the occupation (from the beginning of March 2022), Russia turned the nuclear power plant in Enerhodar – the largest in Europe – into a military facility. The UAE and the territory close to the plant have been mined for several months. On April 27, the UK Ministry of Defense revealed that Russian soldiers had set up combat positions on the roofs of several of the six reactor buildings.
At the beginning of 2023, four of the six units of the Zaporizhzhia NPP were in cold shutdown mode, which minimizes the risk of an industrial disaster.
Olha Koszarna, an independent expert on nuclear safety, points out that on February 10, the State Nuclear Supervision Inspectorate of Ukraine issued an order to switch reactors 5 and 6 to cold shutdown mode. However, only unit 6 was switched over. After blowing up the dam in Nova Kakhovka on June 8, the Inspection again issues an order regarding unit 5 to immediately switch the reactor to cold shutdown mode.
“The Russians will not do that,” says the expert.
In hot shutdown mode, the block still uses water – albeit to a lesser extent than if it were operating at full capacity. And it uses water from the cooling pond, which is filled from the Kakhovsky reservoir – blown up in early June 2023. After the disaster in Nova Kakhovka, the cooling reservoir is much more difficult to fill with water.
“And when, for example, we lose water in the secondary circuit due to the exploding of stanchions [vertical gates, such as those found on airlocks, used to block water. They block the flow of water from the pool to the tank – ed.] in the coolant pond or in auxiliary pipelines that bring this water to cool the reactor, then it takes 8 days from loss of cooling to core meltdown, and if the reactor is in hot shutdown mode – 27 hours – explains expert Olha Koszarna.
After Budanov's speech, instructions on how to save oneself from a possible threat began to appear on social media. Hardly credible. In a short time, potassium iodide, Lugol's solution, disappeared from pharmacies in Kyiv. We have already written that the consequences of the failure at the power plant in Enerhodar can only be local.
The State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of Ukraine has issued recommendations in which experts emphasize that
“none of the event scenarios at the Zaporozhian NPP require iodine prophylaxis.”
Currently, there is no reason to use iodine tablets or solutions. Unwise use of potassium iodide tablets can endanger your health. Swallowing iodine tincture, Betadine, or Lugol's solution can cause severe burns to the mucous membranes and poisoning. Iodine prophylaxis involves saturating the thyroid gland with stable iodine to prevent it from absorbing radioactive iodine isotopes and exposing it to radiation.
The center reminded that radioactive iodine is produced only when the power unit is operating at full capacity. That is, when a nuclear unit produces electricity. In the UAE, blocks do not produce it for at least 9 months.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine also warns against unreasonable prophylaxis and provides a plan of action in the event of a possible disaster. The resort asks you to remain calm because panic and fear is what Russia is counting on.
“The blowing up of the Kakhovska dam is proof that the occupiers are using an industrial disaster to stop the counter-offensive of the Ukrainian armed forces”
In the event of a terrorist attack on the Zaporozhian nuclear power plant, Ukraine deployed a staff consisting of power engineers, emergency services, police and medical personnel, Ukraine's Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko reported, reports hromadske. Klymenko stressed that citizens should remain calm and follow the authorities' announcements. Transport is waiting for those willing to evacuate. The minister noted that in the event of an accident, the radioactive background would persist for about a day. Within 24 hours it will decrease by 80%.