Yesterday (26 April), on the 36th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear accident, a report from Ukrainian state nuclear power operator, Energoatom, that two Russian cruise missiles passed low over its Zaporizhzhya power plant highlighted the continued danger posed by military action to Ukraine’s reactors.
This is not the first time in the current conflict that Ukrainian nuclear facilities have been threatened with disaster, with rocket attacks on radioactive waste disposal facilities, on a transformer supplying power to a nuclear plant, and on a training facility at Zaporizhzhya, which was destroyed, and at Chernobyl, there were repeated reports of random detonations during its occupation by Russian forces; the Russians claiming that these were the result of the destruction of unexploded ordinance within the site.
On 25 April, Ukrainian authorities reported through the International Atomic Energy Agency that 7 of the country’s 15 operational reactors at 4 power plants remain connected to the grid, included two at Zaporizhzhya, Europe’s biggest reactor complex which is controlled by Russian forces.
Although safety and monitoring systems remain operational in most instances, remote data monitoring has still not been restored from Chornobyl. The NFLA remains fearful that a future miscalculation, or an act of malice, may still result in a functional reactor or a nuclear waste pool being directly targeted, or that some vital operational system may be fatally damaged by a projectile resulting in a melt-down.
“War is tragic enough, with its inevitable trail of human suffering and physical devastation, but in circumstances where fighting is waged in close proximity to working, or already damaged, nuclear power plants it takes a new and frightening dimension”, said Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the NFLA Steering Committee.
“No one wants to see a repeat of Chornobyl caused by a random act of violence destroying a reactor or making a ‘dirty bomb’ of a nuclear waste pool. Such an incident would not only endanger the lives of those in the conflict zone but could potentially threaten the whole population of Europe.
“The NFLA therefore hopes that the UN Secretary General’s recent mission to Moscow may yet kickstart a further round of negotiation to bring an end to this terrible conflict, and we shall also continue to press the British Government to pull back from its erroneous policy of building new nuclear power plants, which, as Ukraine has demonstrated, can so easily become a target for modern weapons.”
For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07583097793