Europe’s largest nuclear plant has misplaced entry to its main supply of cooling water. Thankfully, its reactors ought to be protected for at the very least just a few months with the water accessible on the location.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Following the destruction of a vital dam in Ukraine, water ranges at a big reservoir are dropping quick, and that is creating new issues on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear energy plant. NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel has extra on why the plant wants water to remain protected.
GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Nuclear energy vegetation generate quite a lot of warmth. Protecting them cool takes numerous water, which is why the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant sits on considered one of Ukraine’s largest reservoirs, or it did till this week. One thing destroyed a dam holding again the reservoir. In only a matter of days, the water degree has already dropped by 20 ft. The Zaporizhzhia reactors aren’t in disaster simply but. Olexiy Kovynyev, a former operator on the plant, says it has a big synthetic pond it may well draw from.
OLEXIY KOVYNYEV: It is about two miles, perhaps, in diameter. It’s extremely large water physique.
BRUMFIEL: Plant operators have been slurping all of the water they’ll out of the falling reservoir and into the pond. The Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company believes it ought to be sufficient for a number of months. That is additionally partially as a result of the reactors want much less water proper now.
KOVYNYEV: Now the plant is shut down, so all six reactors are on this shutdown state.
BRUMFIEL: However even shut down, radioactive gasoline can proceed to supply warmth for years. With the reservoir unavailable, the plant might want to discover extra water sooner or later. The IAEA says choices embody wells, the native water system and even cell pumps for bringing water in from elsewhere. Establishing these different programs will take manpower, although, and the plant’s workforce has dwindled underneath a brutal Russian occupation. Jacopo Buongiorno is a nuclear engineer at MIT.
JACOPO BUONGIORNO: The query is, have they got sufficient folks to carry out these actions that must be carried out should you get to those form of situations? I feel they do, however who is aware of?
BRUMFIEL: If the reactors do run out of water, then the gasoline inside might begin to soften down. That would result in some sort of radioactive launch. However Buongiorno says as a result of the reactors have already been shut down for months, it will not be anyplace close to the kind of catastrophic meltdown that befell on the Ukrainian Chernobyl web site in 1986.
BUONGIORNO: There may be simply not sufficient warmth at this level. So these situations are simply not within the playing cards.
BRUMFIEL: Nonetheless, he says, any meltdown would completely break the Zaporizhzhia reactors, leaving Ukraine and not using a very important supply of electrical energy. Geoff Brumfiel, NPR Information.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content will not be in its ultimate type and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might fluctuate. The authoritative report of NPR’s programming is the audio report.