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Science And Nature

Worries of disaster follow blast near another Ukrainian nuclear power plant

Some 155 miles from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is another atomic facility: the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant. Shortly after midnight on Monday, what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described as shelling led to a great time near that second plant. THE BRAND NEW York Times described the strike to be carried out by way of a powerful Russian missile.

That projectile and explosion occurred some 984 feet, or around 300 meters, from the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant industrial site, the IAEA said. The function temporarily disconnected three power lines and broke windows nearby.

Meanwhile, the Zaporizhzhia plant is still in the news headlines, mostly with regards to the status of its reference to the external power grid. Below is really a brief update with whats been happening with both plants, and what the stakes are.

The South Ukraine NPP

This power plant has three reactors, which continue steadily to operate normally, the IAEA said Monday, following that nearby strike and explosion.

But needless to say, a military strike near a nuclear power plant is hazardous for several reasons. Nuclear reactors, where in fact the actual fission process occurs and creates heat, are strongly reinforced to withstand impact. Nonetheless, the concern will be that it could breach the concrete containment vessel, observes Cheryl Rofer, a nuclear scientist who formerly worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in case a more direct strike were that occurs.

Whatever the strength of the containment vessels, ordinance hitting a nuclear power plant could still have serious follow-on effects. The essential reactor structurethe steel containment vessel, and everything thats within itis probably pretty robust and pretty safe, she says. But if you believe about connections and electronic equipment that runs everything, youre beginning to get into a bit more delicate group of things.

The majority of those things aren’t tested against missile strikes, she adds, that makes it hard to learn what the consequences of a far more direct hit will be.

[Related: Why do nuclear power plants need electricity to remain safe?]

And another hazard lurks at plants: Spent fuel rods have a home in cooling pools after theyre finished with their work in the reactor, but before each goes into more permanent storage.

Should they really wished to create a radioactive mess, they might just aim at the spent fuel pools, she observes. But that doesnt look like Russias goal. The hits are on the electrical connections, so theyre playing this game of, you want to scare you guys in the West.

But its a dangerous game. For just one, taking right out the electric connections themselves can result in a catastrophe, she says. All nuclear reactors require cooling systems, and an interruption to those may lead to a meltdown.

Mistakes happen, and sooner or later they could take action that might be worseoffhand, that might be hitting the spent fuel pools, she adds.

The Times reports that Petro Kotin, the principle of Ukraines nuclear utility company, Energoatom, described the attack as nuclear terrorism on television.

The Zaporizhzhia NPP

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants six reactors are actually completely shut down, and therefore its not making electricity. However, nuclear plants require a way to obtain electricity, even though those reactors are turn off, to power its systemsheres more on what they work.

While that plant have been getting power from the reserve line, that power line was recently disconnected, the IAEA said. Fortunately, Zaporizhzhia still has power from the newly-connected different line, and therefore it lost one connection shortly after gaining another.

The problem at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains fragile and precarious, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the IAEA, said in a statement. The other day, we saw some improvements regarding its power supplies, but today we were informed in regards to a new setback in this regard. The plant is situated in the center of a war zone, and its own power status is definately not safe and sound.

Rofer includes a similar reflection, saying: My bottom-line message is: Russia, stop shelling nuclear plants and obtain out of Ukraine.

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