Three major crises of Ukrainian nuclear power plants under the war: cooling pools, sarcophagi, reactors

Under the Russian-Ukrainian war, Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are also threatened, and nuclear power plants rely on external power to maintain various safety mechanisms. The worst case of a power outage will cause the leakage of radioactive substances. For Ukraine, the focus now may be to protect the power plant. Cooling pools, reactors, and “sarcophagus” electricity from the Chernobyl power plant operate.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 can be said to be one of the worst nuclear power disasters in history. The No. 4 unit of the power plant exploded during the experiment, and then the accident handlers used a reinforced concrete protective layer called “sarcophagus” to put No. 4 on it. The reactor was covered, allowing the other units to continue to operate and maintain until the power plant was officially shut down in 2000.

It’s just that there is still a lot of nuclear waste in the Chernobyl power plant, which requires continuous cooling. The Russian army also occupied the Chernobyl nuclear power plant shortly after the invasion of Ukraine. The media The Verge reported that the used fuel rod cooling pool will be the biggest “loophole” in Chernobyl, and there are a large number of sources from other closed cooling pools in the cooling pool. Reactor fuel.

The cooling system of nuclear power plants relies on external power supply and needs to be connected to the power grid to operate. Therefore, once the power is cut off, the fuel may melt and release radioactive substances. Although there are many protection mechanisms in the middle, this kind of impossibility will only occur in the worst and worst case. Accidents recovered, but in the long run, the current situation in Ukraine is also increasingly worrying about nuclear power plants, as the non-stop conflict makes it difficult for workers to monitor radiation, communicate and clean up.

Especially last week, the Zaporo nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which is also the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, was also attacked by Russian artillery shells and caught fire. Fortunately, according to the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), since the Chernobyl power plant has been closed, it will not cause a major safety impact. Some experts also pointed out that the fuel rods in the cooling pool have been placed for many years and can maintain effective heat dissipation without electricity. On the contrary, although the Zaporo nodule power plant has not been powered off, it has been occupied by the Russian army for six days, and the situation is worrying.

On the 4th, the Zaporo nuclear power plant was attacked by Russian artillery fire. Fortunately, the fire was completely extinguished and the safety system of the reactor was not damaged. Said that the situation is close, and the shells and the out-of-control fire have the potential to knock the power out of the nuclear power plant.

And we can’t ignore the “sarcophagus” in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. This $1.7 billion sarcophagus can block 200 metric tons of radioactive material. Claire Corkhill, director of nuclear material decomposition at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, said that the ventilation system in the sarcophagus can be used. Keep the reactor and old sarcophagus from continuing to corrode, but require electricity to function.

Ukrenergo, the operator of Ukraine’s national grid, called on the Russian army to stop the conflict near the Chernobyl power plant so that the transmission lines can be repaired and the power grid restored. The original diesel generator of the Chernobyl power plant can only be rescued for 48 hours. Done.

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