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American Nuclear Society: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant not a “Second Chernobyl”

Russian troops stand near the Zaporizhzhia NPP
Russian soldier stands near the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Illustrative photo: Energoatom
According to the USA’s prominent American Nuclear Society, no situation at the Zaporizhzhzia Nuclear Power Plant, where Russia has been accused of planning a nuclear accident, will carry radiation danger for the population

According to a statement from the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the organization is closely monitoring the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine. The ANS, an international professional organization of engineers and scientists, has been considering “worst-case scenarios,” including bombardment and deliberate sabotage of the reactors and spent fuel storage canisters at the ZNPP.

Despite these potential threats, the ANS experts “cannot foresee a situation that would result in radiation-related health consequences to the public.”

The ZNPP’s six reactors have been shut down for over ten months and are no longer generating enough heat to cause a prompt radiological release. The plant is designed to withstand both natural and man-made hazards, with thick, steel-reinforced concrete containment buildings protecting the reactor cores and keeping any radioactive materials isolated from the environment.

In the unlikely event that these containment structures were breached, any potential release of radiological material would be restricted to the immediate area surrounding the reactors, the ANS says.

The ANS statement also addressed comparisons between the ZNPP and past nuclear disasters, stating that any comparison between ZNPP and the nuclear accidents at Ukraine’s Chernobyl power plant or Japan’s Fukushima is both inaccurate and misleading. The organization emphasized the need for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to be given immediate, unfettered access to all areas of the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant.

The IAEA, according to the ANS, is the most reliable source for up-to-date information on the ZNPP.

What’s the worst that can happen at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant? Four scenarios

The Zaporizhzhia NPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has been occupied by Russians since 4 March 2022. The invaders turned it into a military base and placed weapons and explosives on the reactors. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on 22 June that Russia is probably preparing to commit a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which could lead to a radiation leak.

His warnings were echoed by Ukraine’s spy chief Budanov, who said on 20 June that there was a threat of a bombing or accident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, as the occupiers had additionally mined the cooler. Five days later, he claimed the threat was greater than ever, as the Russians had fully developed and approved the plan to blow up the nuclear power station. Ukrainian intelligence also said that Russians had decreased their presence near the station,  instructing the personnel remaining at the plant to “blame Ukraine in case of any emergency.” However, on 6 July, Budanov said that the risk of such an attack was “slowly decreasing.”

 

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