nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhialocated in the homonymous region of the Ukrainian city of Energodar, it burned for several hours this Friday after being attacked by the invading Russian forceswhich sparked concern throughout Europe due to the danger of a potential atomic catastrophe.
In fact, when the fire had not yet been controlled, the mayor of this district, Dmitry Orlov warned on his Telegram account that this fact constituted a “threat to world security”.
After the attack, Energoatomthe Ukrainian state-owned company that operates the country’s nuclear plants, released a video showing the damage caused. In the images you can see broken glass, misplaced pipes, debris on the floor, and holes in the ceiling.
The Zaporizhzhia NPP (Nuclear Power Plant) began to be built by the Soviet Union in 1979 and the first of its six power units began operating in 1984, less than two years before the Chernobyl tragedy.
It is located in the steppe zone of Ukraine, on the shore of a water reservoir in the city of Kakhovka, located about 71 kilometers northeast of Kherson. It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of the largest in the world..
It has a total of six VVER-1000 type reactors, which work with pressurized water and can produce between 40,000 and 42,000 million kWh. of power, which represents a fifth of the average annual supply of electricity in the country. These reactors have a duration of between 40 and 60 years, or even more thanks to technological advances.
It is operated by the national company NNEGC Energoatom and in its cooling pools there are hundreds of tons of highly radioactive nuclear fuelwhich is why three of them have been closed when the armed conflict with Russia began.
According to what is known so far, the main fire broke out in one of those six VVER-1000 reactors found at the plantwhich is under renovation and does not operate, but inside it has nuclear fuel.
The conception of these pressurized water reactors, considered among the safest, comes from those used in nuclear submarines and differs from those of Chernobyl, controlled with graphite and initially conceived to produce plutonium instead of electricity.
The VVER-1000 are powered by fuel enriched in the fissile isotope Uranium-235. They work thanks to the steam heated in the core, but unlike other reactors, the steam contaminated by radiation is not used to turn the turbines, but to heat another circuit of non-contaminated steam that is responsible for generating this movement. This technique makes it possible to maintain a relatively low level of radioactivity for the plant’s employees.
Ukrainian authorities said on Friday that Russian shell fire caused a fire in a building dedicated to training and in a laboratory. After hours of uncertainty, the site was secured and the reactors “stopped safely,” according to US officials.
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