Chernobyl Could Be 48 Hours From Radiation Leak, Ukraine Says

Emily Brown

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Chernobyl Could Be 48 Hours From Radiation Leak, Ukraine Says

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has warned the Chernobyl nuclear power plant could be at risk of leaking after just 48 hours.

Kuleba's warning came after reports emerged that Russian forces had disconnected the power plant from the grid, leaving it without power.

The issue was confirmed by Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s national energy operator, today, March 9, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the site was no longer transmitting data.

The site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Credit: Alamy
The site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Credit: Alamy

In a post on Facebook, Ukrenergo explained the power plant was 'fully disconnected from the power grid', with military operations in the area meaning there was 'no possibility to restore the lines'. Russian troops seized the plant amid the invasion into Ukraine, prompting the IAEA to voice concern for staff working under Russian guard.

A 750Kw power line connecting the site to the grid has been severed, according to Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company. As a result, the company warned, there could be a release of radioactive substances into the air from the plant if power is not restored.

The State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine, the country’s security and intelligence service, has explained there are 20,000 spent fuel assemblies at Chernobyl that require 'constant cooling', which is 'only possible if there is electricity'.

As cited by The Independent, the agency said: 'If it is not there, the pumps will not cool. As a result, the temperature in the holding pools will increase. After that evaporation will occur, that will lead to nuclear discharge. The wind can transfer the radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe. In addition, there is no ventilation inside the facility.

'All personnel there will receive a dangerous dose of radiation. The fire extinguishing system also does not work, and this is a huge risk of fire caused by shelling. The fight still goes on making it impossible to carry out repairs and restore power', the agency continued.

The foreign minister has called for a ceasefire to allow Ukraine to carry out forces to restore power to the grid, and in a post on Twitter he explained reserve diesel generators at Chernobyl have a 48-hour capacity to power the plant.

Ukrainian foreign minister warns of leak (Dmytro Kuleba/Twitter)
Ukrainian foreign minister warns of leak (Dmytro Kuleba/Twitter)

After that, though, 'cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent'.

Kuleba wrote: 'I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.'

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko has previously said he did not know the situation with radiation levels at Chernobyl as authorities have not been updated since the site was seized by the Russians.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information.

Topics: News, Chernobyl, Politics, Russia, Ukraine, World News

Emily Brown
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