Ukraine nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia on fire

In summary: Ukrainian government requested NATO to help protect its nuclear facilities, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine is on fire. The mayor of the nearby town of Energodar said in an online post that the plant was on fire after an attack by Russian troops. There's been fierce fighting between Ukrainians and Russian troops near the plant, and it's not clear what is on fire. Officials say it's possible the plant was targeted on purpose.
  • #1
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Let's keep this non-political, similar to the Fukushima thread. Thanks!

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-ukraine-nuclear-power-plant-001225198.html

March 4 (Reuters) - The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the largest of its kind in Europe, was on fire early on Friday after an attack by Russian troops, the mayor of the nearby town of Energodar said in an online post.

Mayor Dmytro Orlov had earlier reported fierce fighting between Ukrainians and Russian troops near the plant in southeastern Ukraine."As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire," Orlov said on his Telegram channel, citing what he called a threat to world security. He did not give details.
 
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  • #2
I can't tell from that article -- what exactly is on fire? The support buildings? The generators that can supply emergency backup electrical power? The containment building itself? It makes a difference.

And if it is either of the last two, does it seem like they were targeted on purpose, or the result of lousy aim with clumsy weapons?
 
  • #3
Yeah, not enough information to jump to scary conclusions. There are many things in a nuclear power plant that can burn without causing a heightened risk of release of radioactivity. Nevertheless, shelling can be indiscriminate. Who knows what damage was done?

It would have been prudent for Ukraine to shut down the reactors when invasion first seemed likely. That would help to mitigate some, but not all, of the risks.

For more on the topic:
Experience gained from fires in nuclear power plants: Lessons learned
https://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/Publications/PDF/TE_1421_web.pdf
 
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  • #4
I tried a Google search for more informative sources, but so far it seems to be the same brief info from the local mayor, repeated at all media outlets. I guess we need to wait for more details...
 
  • #5
Was this what Putin meant when He said: "consequences of what we have never seen before"?
 
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  • #6
Guess I should follow my fellow citizens and pile up iodine pills. Just to be sure. And I have to go to the drug store anyway.
 
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  • #7

March 1 - Ukraine (Energoatom) asks IAEA for 30km safe zones around nuclear plants​

https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Ukraine-asks-IAEA-for-30km-safe-zones-around-nucle

March 2 - Russia tells IAEA it controls area around Zaporozhe plant​

https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Russia-tells-IAEA-it-controls-area-around-Zaporozh

In a statement issued on Wednesday 2 March, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been sent an official letter by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the International Organisations in Vienna saying that Russian forces had taken control of the territory around the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant, the country’s largest facility with six reactors at the site.

The letter also said personnel at the plant continued their "work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation. The radiation levels remain normal."

Russian forces took control of the Chernobyl site and exclusion zone last week, with the Ukrainian staff on duty at the time continuing to work at the site. The IAEA says that "no casualties or destruction at the industrial site were reported".

Energoatom site - https://www.energoatom.com.ua/en/

Energoatom called for a no-fly zone over nuclear plants
https://www.energoatom.com.ua/en/press_center-19/company-20/p/ua_calls_the_fact_of_chnpp-48958
Kyiv. March 3. Ukraine calls on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to appeal to NATO with a request to deny access to airspace over its nuclear facilities as well as intensify efforts to prevent acts of nuclear terrorism, such as the seizure of the Chornobyl NPP and the Exclusion Zone.
https://www.energoatom.com.ua/en/press_center-19/company-20/certificate_of_npp_operation-241/p/on_february_22_ukrainian_nuclear_power_plants_generated_281_82_million_kwh_of_electricity-48929
23.02.2022
As of February 23, 13 out of 15 power units of Ukrainian NPPs are in operation.
At Rivne NPP power unit 1, the 8th day of the intermediate scheduled outage is underway.
At Khmelnytskyy NPP power unit 2, the 6th day of the scheduled outage is underway.
Dispatching generation schedules are: for ZNPP – 5 760 MW, for RNPP – 2 355 MW, for SUNPP – 2 680 MW, for KhNPP – 980 MW.

So, it appears that Zaporizhzhia is still operating. Even if they shutdown the reactors, they would need to cool the cores for days before offloading the fuel to the spent fuel pool (SFP), and then the SFP needs cooling. It would not be good to have the reactors shutdown without the residual heat removal system offline.

Edit/update:
Information on Ukraine's nuclear energy program.
https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-t-z/ukraine.aspx

Find the section on Nuclear Power Industry which lists the plants and provides a map
https://world-nuclear.org/informati...es/countries-t-z/ukraine.aspx#ECSArticleLink3

Zaporizhzhia (Russian Zaporozhe) NPP has 6 VVER-320 units (VVER-1000 reactors), each with a reference (nominal net) output of 950 MWe. The site has a reference capacity of 5700 MWe.

A Fukushima type event would harm the two areas Russia controls in Donestk and Luhansk, as well as potentially Crimea.

On 24 February (2022) Ukraine disconnected its grid from Belarus and Russia, and requested emergency synchronization to the European power grid.

March 4 - According to the IAEA, just one of the six reactors (unit 4) at the Zaporozhe nuclear plant is currently producing electricity. It is operating at about 60% of its total capacity. The statuses of unit 1 (maintenance outage) and units 5 and 6 (held in reserve, operating in low power mode) are unchanged following the events on 4 March. Units 2 and 3 have undergone a controlled shutdown.
 
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  • #8
Ukraine is reporting no increase in radiation levels.
 
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  • #9
fresh_42 said:
Guess I should follow my fellow citizens and pile up iodine pills. Just to be sure. And I have to go to the drug store anyway.
Do they really have iodine pills in the drug stores? Even when I lived in Sweden during Chernobyl in April 1986, I never heard of coworkers or neighbors actually taking iodine pills.

I'll experiment the next time I go to a US drug store and ask for them.
 
  • #10
berkeman said:
I can't tell from that article -- what exactly is on fire? The support buildings? The generators that can supply emergency backup electrical power? The containment building itself? It makes a difference.
Russian troops are shelling Europe's largest nuclear power station in Ukraine, a plant spokesperson says.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”

The plant accounts for about one quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.

Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.

Firefighters cannot get near the fire because they are being shot at, Tuz said.
-- https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/europ...st-nuclear-power-plant-on-fire-after-shelling
 
  • #11
A fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine, the largest of its kind in Europe, broke out in a training building outside the plant's perimeter after an attack by Russian troops, the SES said. It said the 'fire condition' at the power plant itself was 'normal'

Separately, the plant's director told Ukraine 24 television that radiation security had been secured at the site.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-04/russia-ukraine-war-invasion-updates/100880512
 
  • #12
I'm ready for a boring year. Just one year where nothing interesting happens.
 
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  • #13
StevieTNZ said:
Thanks Stevie, that provides a little more information but still not much. I guess we will have to wait a day or two to learn what-all the damage is and what the consequences may be...
Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
 
  • #14
In my recent internet surfings (not from a specifically reliable source, FWIW), I have read that it is an administration building that is on fire. Wish I had better more reliable info, but you got what you got.
YMMV

--diogenesNY
 
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  • #15
diogenesNY said:
In my recent internet surfings (not from a specifically reliable source, FWIW), I have read that it is an administration building that is on fire. Wish I had better more reliable info, but you got what you got.
YMMV

--diogenesNY

Yeah, that's kind of what I'm thinking, but we need reliable reports to be able to tell.

It would be pretty insane or incompetent to lob a shell into an active nuclear reactor containment building, so hopefully that is not what happened.
 
  • #16
As of about 10 minutes ago, the building was described as 'a training building' outside the perimeter of the plant and that the main building and the reactors are not in danger.

The Whitehouse (U.S. government) reported 'no increase in radiationhas been detected.'

(Wife & I were watching news on her tablet and she cleared history, so I can't supply any links. :cry:)

Cheers,
Tom
 
  • #17
According to Al Jazeera, Ukrainian authorities have said the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was now secured.

“The director of the plant said that the nuclear safety is now guaranteed. According to those responsible for the plant, a training building and a laboratory were affected by the fire,” said Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, on Facebook.

Also: "The nuclear reactors at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station are reportedly being safely shut down." -
 
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  • #19
anorlunda said:
Do they really have iodine pills in the drug stores? Even when I lived in Sweden during Chernobyl in April 1986, I never heard of coworkers or neighbors actually taking iodine pills.
Probably not in stock, but you can order them there. It has been in the news these days that people started buying them.
 
  • #20
Current situation:
State of the power units:

  • Unit 1 is in outage.
  • Units 2, 3 have been disconnected from the grid, and the cool down of the nuclear installations is being carried out.
  • Unit 4 is in operation at 690 MW power.
  • Units 5, 6 are being cooled down.
Changes in the radiation situation have not been registered
source: https://snriu.gov.ua/en/news/updated-information-about-zaporizhzhia-npp-0800
 
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  • #21
My current information from the news is that the fire is out and there was only an administrative building on fire, not the reactor building itself.
 
  • #22
Astronuc said:
So, it appears that Zaporizhzhia is still operating. Even if they shutdown the reactors, they would need to cool the cores for days before offloading the fuel to the spent fuel pool (SFP), and then the SFP needs cooling. It would not be good to have the reactors shutdown without the residual heat removal system offline.
DrClaude said:
Current situation:
  • Unit 1 is in outage.
  • Units 2, 3 have been disconnected from the grid, and the cool down of the nuclear installations is being carried out.
  • Unit 4 is in operation at 690 MW power.
  • Units 5, 6 are being cooled down.
So can we summarize the available disaster scenarios please? Let me give it a shot and you guys can let me know if I'm missing or misunderstanding them. Ranked from most to least severe:
  1. Chernobyl was a runaway nuclear reaction caused by internal mismanagement of the reaction. This scenario is/was not possible here, regardless of other safety issues at Chernobyl.
  2. What can you do to an in-operation reactor (Unit 4)? What are the impacts? Blowing-up the reactor vessel itself seems unlikely, but what if you destroyed the cooling and couldn't insert the control rods for some reason? I'm guessing this would be worse than Fukushima?
  3. Fukushima was overheating a shut-down reactor due to loss of cooling. This scenario is available for units 2, 3, 5 and 6. Presumably the potential impact reduces drastically over time. Are we talking half per day?
  4. Weeks or months after shutdown can it still have a weak Fukushima-style accident? Or, if you destroy the cooling and abandon the site, what happens?
  5. What does "in outage" mean? (Unit 5). No fuel/no risk? Or long shutdown with fuel similar to scenario 4?
 
  • #23
What worries me is: who the heck is running that facility? Hopefully not soldiers. And even a regular shutdown is a complicated procedure.
 
  • #24
fresh_42 said:
What worries me is: who the heck is running that facility? Hopefully not soldiers. And even a regular shutdown is a complicated procedure.
The workers are running the plant, under Russian guard.
 
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russ_watters said:
Ranked from most to least severe:
1. Chernobyl was a runaway nuclear reaction caused by internal mismanagement of the reaction. This scenario is/was not possible here, regardless of other safety issues at Chernobyl.

The Zaporizhzhia units are VVER; i.e., pressurized water reactors, not Chernoblyl style RBMK. Regardless, once the reactor is shut down it is hard to imagine a scenario where it re-starts on its own.

2. What can you do to an in-operation reactor (Unit 4)? What are the impacts? Blowing-up the reactor vessel itself seems unlikely, but what if you destroyed the cooling and couldn't insert the control rods for some reason? I'm guessing this would be worse than Fukushima?

Loss of cooling leads to overheating. If something prevents the scram that just shortens the time to excessive overheating.

3. Fukushima was overheating a shut-down reactor due to loss of cooling. This scenario is available for units 2, 3, 5 and 6. Presumably the potential impact reduces drastically over time. Are we talking half per day?

The decay heat decreases exponentially with time. At full power the decay heat is about 7%. After one day shutdown, 0.6%, two days, 0.5%; a week, 0.3%. A month, 0.02%,

4. Weeks or months after shutdown can it still have a weak Fukushima-style accident? Or, if you destroy the cooling and abandon the site, what happens?

These reactors are around 3000MW core, so a month after shutdown they are making 5 or 6 MW. That can do damage if it has nowhere to go. At some point the decay heat can be removed by air convection around the vessel.

5. What does "in outage" mean? (Unit 5). No fuel/no risk? Or long shutdown with fuel similar to scenario 4?

Good question. If the fuel has been offloaded it is still onsite, in the spent fuel pool rather than the vessel. It still needs cooling to remove the decay heat.
 
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  • #26
This is the sort of poor information/analysis we need to be countering:
USA Today said:

Russian troops halt attack of nuclear power plant but remain in control. How dangerous could this be?​

Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affair Dmytro Kuleba said warned if Zaporizhzhia blew up it "will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl."
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news...uclear-power-plant-attack-dangers/9373044002/

The paper evidently spoke to an engineering professor at USC who described the sort of thing he feared (a loss of generator power), but made no other attempt to answer the title question of the article.
 
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Without offsite power, the decay heat removal systems will rely on diesel generators to operate the necessary pumps and valves. In the US, the diesels have enough fuel to run at least seven days. In a war zone, there's no way of knowing. War is not a "design basis" for commercial power units. Extended loss of decay heat removal will lead to core heatup, fuel failure, possible melting.

I'm not sure of the Zaporizhzhia containment design. A US reactor can experience core melt without significant exposure to the public (See Three Mile Island).
 
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  • #28
russ_watters said:
Chernobyl was a runaway nuclear reaction caused by internal mismanagement of the reaction. This scenario is/was not possible here, regardless of other safety issues at Chernobyl.
The reactors at Zaporizhzhia are VVER-1000 (PWR type), not graphite moderated. Although a hexagonal lattice, the fuel is much the same as typical PWR fuel, where water flows through the assembly acting a moderator and cooling medium. I don't see a Chernobyl scenario developing here.

russ_watters said:
What can you do to an in-operation reactor (Unit 4)? What are the impacts? Blowing-up the reactor vessel itself seems unlikely, but what if you destroyed the cooling and couldn't insert the control rods for some reason? I'm guessing this would be worse than Fukushima?
I would imagine the operators would scram the reactor if they perceived a threat to the unit. Then it is a matter of maintaining cooling (removal of decay heat) after shutdown for a matter of some days.

russ_watters said:
Fukushima was overheating a shut-down reactor due to loss of cooling. This scenario is available for units 2, 3, 5 and 6. Presumably the potential impact reduces drastically over time. Are we talking half per day?
Concern about cooling diminishes each day from shutdown. Unit 2,3 have been disconnected from the grid, but I believe they were operating some days ago. It appears Units 5,6 were only recently shutdown.

russ_watters said:
Weeks or months after shutdown can it still have a weak Fukushima-style accident? Or, if you destroy the cooling and abandon the site, what happens?
Potentially a weak version of Fukushima. However, I don't think Putin would destroy these assets, but simply take control in conjunction with control of the entire nation.

russ_watters said:
What does "in outage" mean? (Unit 5). No fuel/no risk? Or long shutdown with fuel similar to scenario 4?
Outage usually means the reactor is shutdown for refueling and/or maintenance. I don't know the status of the outage.
 
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  • #29
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Hard to be sure, but these look like pre-stressed concrete containment buildings.

1646416968810.png
1646417225158.png
 
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The American Nuclear Society is putting out statements on Ukraine's NPPs as information becomes available. The following came in a memo this afternoon from the ANS President.

Zaporizhzhia NPP

As you are no doubt aware, last night Russian forces attacked and captured the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine. A Russian projectile hit a training building several hundred meters away from the nearest reactor and ignited a fire that was extinguished by the onsite fire brigade. Damage assessments are continuing, but at this time the plant remains operational and there is no evidence that the fighting has physically impacted safety significant equipment. Unit 1 was in shutdown for maintenance prior to military action. Units 2 and 3 are now in cold shutdown. Unit 4 is operating at 60%. Units 5 and 6 are operating in a low power/hot standby mode.

Of course, last night it was frustrating to see so-called “nuclear experts” on cable news networks hypothesizing about worst-case scenarios without providing the appropriate context about the robustness and multiple safety systems of modern nuclear plants. Ultimately, we alone cannot turn back the initial burst of nuclear “worry porn” that invariably occurs at times like these. However, we were successful in preparing our surrogates for appearances on major media outlets and provided scores of reporters with factual assessments of the situation on the ground.
https://www.ans.org/news/article-3733/update-on-the-invasion-of-ukraine/
 
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  • #33
Via CNN: The plant is occupied by Russian soldiers and plant workers have not had a shift change since sometime Thursday.
 
  • #34
My 2 cents
Given the unstable situation I would think it would be wiser to just have all reactors shut down and cool off so that if anything happens they can be left. I don't think it's adequate to ask civilian personal to perform important duty operations in a nuclear reactor under a stress situation with lack of sleep and active war going on in the background.
That would be my approach if I had any say over there.

I'm not among those "nuclear porn" admirers but war is war, better safe than sorry
 
  • #35
artis said:
Given the unstable situation I would think it would be wiser to just have all reactors shut down and cool off so that if anything happens they can be left.
I agree, that's ideal.
Keep in mind though that the operators have guns pointed at them and are being instructed by the Russian military.

Would you be the first, or the last, to 'commit suicide by another'??
 

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