Since early March, when Russia seized the plant, international and domestic experts have issued serious warnings, not only for the safety of the plant’s workers, but also for fear of a nuclear disaster that could affect thousands of people in the surrounding area.
Ukraine relies heavily on nuclear power — about half of its electricity comes from 15 nuclear reactors at four plants across the country, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Zaporizhzhia NPP, with six reactors, is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. It was built mostly in the Soviet era and became a Ukrainian property after declaring its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Until recently, only two reactors were connected to Ukraine’s national grid to provide power, although the units have been out of service at various points – and for various reasons – since the invasion.
Where is it and who controls it?
At the start of the invasion, Ukrainian forces prevented Russian forces from capturing a second nuclear facility – the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine – and forced them to retreat to Dnipro, according to Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, which operates nuclear power plants. in Ukraine. The front line hasn’t moved much in months.
Replacing each of the Zaporizhia reactors would cost $7 billion, making the plant a target for the Russians to take it over without getting damaged, hoping to serve their electricity market, according to an analysis by Defense and Security Intelligence. If Russia maintains this, Ukraine will lose 20% of its capacity to generate electricity domestically.
What does its position on the front line mean?
Local reports said shelling in the surrounding towns as well as near the power plant is common.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of stockpiling weapons and launching attacks from the plant, knowing that Ukraine could not return fire without risking hitting the nuclear facility. Russia, in turn, claims that Ukrainian forces are targeting the site.
However, there are still risks, one of which is potential damage to nuclear waste stored outdoors — in tubs and in barrels, according to Cotten of Energoatom.
Kotin also warned that Russian attempts to switch the plant from the Ukrainian grid to the Russian power grid would require all reactors to be disconnected from power for a certain period, and to rely on never-fail emergency power generation — a “very dangerous” prospect, he said. CNN in an interview on August 22.
What parts of the factory were affected by the conflict?
The main restricted security zone of the plant, where the reactors and nuclear fuel are located, is surrounded by the waters of Dnipro to the northwest and the city of Enerhodar to the east.
The satellite image below shows the plant’s facilities, which are vital to the accompanying timeline of events since the war began. They showed how narrow the Zaporizhzhia NPP was in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe.
Reporting and writing: CNN Staff and Henrik Peterson
Digital design and graphics: Natalie Crocker and Byron Manley
photo rate: Clint Wahab
Editors: Anna Brand, Nick Thompson and Eve Bauer
“General web ninja. Total explorer. Problem solver. Unapologetic troublemaker. Coffee guru. Pop culture maven. Student. Organizer.”