TOPIC 2022 / 4
Cf. PUBLICATION: Nuclear Deals and Nuclear Arms in Ukrainian War. An annotated documentary on the military conflict around the Zaporizhzhya NPP, in: Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 7, 2023/1, 46 pages.
With the Ukraine war on 24.2.2022, for the first time in the history of modern warfare, a nuclear power plant (NPP) is at the centre of a military conflict. Right at the beginning, the Russian military occupied the NPP ruins of Chernobyl in the north of Ukraine, a few days later the NPP Zaporizhzhya in the south, the largest nuclear reactor in Europe. On 10 July 2022, the Ukrainian company Energodatom called on the military to take it back by force (energoatom, 10.7.2022). Since then, the NPP has been under repeated grenade fire (over 300 impacts until the end of December 2022), although representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived on site in early September.
In his report to the UN Security Council, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said: “We are playing with fire, and something catastrophic could happen.” (digitallibrary.un.org, 7.9.2022: 3) Therefore Grossi proposed demilitarisation of the area around the NPP, but so far without success. This is partly due to the fact that the IAEA bowed to pressure from the G7 and took Ukraine’s side in this conflict. As a result, Russia took full possession of the nuclear power plant by Decree of 5.10.2022. This made it obvious that the grenade attacks were (also) coming from the Ukrainian military. Since then, Moscow has threatened that a provoked nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant would be similar to the use of a tactical nuclear weapon and lead to a nuclear response.
The original version of this documentary from September 2022 has been shortened and divided into three focus topics due to lack of space: This issue 4/2022 ocuses on important News on Zaporizhzhya NPP and provides translated quotes from Ukrainian and Russian sources with links to the original documents. Issue 5/2022 is titled Nuclear Deals in the Ukraine War and confronts the reader with the interests of the nuclear industry and the potential misuse of NPPs as tactical nuclear weapons. Issue 6/2022, titled World free of Nuclear Weapons shows ways out of the threatening nuclear confrontation: Since 22.1.2021, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has come into force, banning both research and the deployment of nuclear weapons.
Possibly the nuclear industry and the IAEA as its interest group have become nervous so that they seek to set up new facts. This explains why the IAEA declared in the middle of the Ukraine war that nuclear power was on the rise worldwide. This makes it all the more important to inform the public that it is not a “clean” technology and can be misused for weapons in the context of dual-use research. The public is hardly aware that about 60 km northwest of the Ukrainian NPP Zaporizhzhya is located the largest radioactively contaminated area in the world, the decommissioned chemical plant Prydniprovsky (PCP). There, 15 times as much nuclear waste is stored as in the Chernobyl NPP ruins, partly in the open air. … The three focus topics can be read at length in the above-mentioned publication by the author: Nuclear Deals and Nuclear Arms in Ukrainian War, in: Forschungshorizonte Politik & Kultur, Vol. 6, 2022/11, 42 pages
INFORMATIONS (own texts with “quotations”, of Ukrainian and Russian sources into English: S.R.)
SOURCES (author, title, URL etc.)
Zaporizhzhya (ukr. Запоріжжя, russ. Запорожье) is the sixth largest city in Ukraine with 710,000 inhabitants (2022), founded in 1770 under the name Aleksandrovsk / Alexander Fortress, renamed in 1921 (Zaporizhzhya means “beyond the rapids”). Today it is the fourth largest industrial centre in Ukraine.
Decision by the Soviet government (Council of Ministers) to build the Zaporizhzhya NPP (ZNPP), 50 km from the city of the same name. Two years later, construction began on the first of six pressurised water reactors of the type VVER-1000/320 (water-water energy reactor).
During this period, six reactors of the Zaporizhzhya NPP were commissioned, with an operating life of 30 years. According to information from UATOM and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, reactor units 1-4 will finally go offline 10 years later (as of 2019). They would have passed a stress test after the accident at the Fukushima NPP in Japan (11.3.2011).
The State Specialised Enterprise “Chernobyl NPP” (SS ChNPP) of Ukraine is now responsible for the Chernobyl nuclear ruin. The website provides detailed information, including the history of the NPP, among other things: After the most recent unit 4 of the Chernobyl NPP exploded and unit 2 was damaged in 1991, Ukraine shut down unit 1 in 1996 and unit 3 in 2000. The construction of two more reactors was already stopped in 1988. The Zaporizhzhya NPP therefore became the most important nuclear plant in Ukraine.
After Ukraine’s state independence, Kiev continued the initial Soviet energy policy of developing nuclear energy. The 1990 moratorium, which had stopped the construction of new reactors as a result of the Chernobyl accident, was lifted:
Since December 1991, the nuclear power plants were under the control of the Ukratomenergoprom corporation, and from January 1993, the “State Nuclear Energy Committee of Ukraine – Derzhkomatom of Ukraine”. After the commissioning of unit 6 of the Zaporizhzhya NPP (1995), it became the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with a capacity of 6 million KW. On 17.10.1996, the national enterprise National Energy Generating Company – “Energoatom” was founded.
INFORMATIONS (own texts with “quotations”, of Ukrainian and Russian sources into English: S.R.)
SOURCES (author, title, URL etc.)
One day before the start of the Russian invasion on 24.2.2022, the Ukrainian president declared a state of emergency in some regions, including Zaporizhzhya, under the direction of the military and the Interior Ministry. The official statement of the Zaporizhzhya Regional Council said:
“Official statement regarding the introduction of a state of emergency in the Zaporizhzhia region
From today, an operational headquarters will operate in the Zaporizhia region under the chairmanship of the Zaporizhia Regional State Administration Chairman Oleksandr Starukh and with the participation of the Zaporizhia Regional Council Chairman Olena Zhuk. It included representatives of the military, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, city mayors, and heads of local self-government bodies.
The situation in the region is under control. Residents of the Zaporizhzhia region are under the protection of the state, the Ukrainian army and territorial defense units.
The Decree of the President of Ukraine “On the introduction of a state of emergency in certain regions of Ukraine” approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine provides for:”
In summary, among other things: Restrictions on entry and exit, prohibition of mass meetings and strikes, restrictions including the banning of politicalF parties, curfews, house searches and control over the mass media.
Zaporizhzhia Regional Council, Official statement regarding the introduction of a state of emergency in the Zaporizhzhia region, Zaporizhzhya, 23.2.2022, zor.gov.ua/content/oficiyna-zayava-shchodo-vvedennya-nadzvychaynoyi-sytuaciyi-v-zaporizkiy-oblasti.
On the day the Ukraine war began (24.2.2022), the Zaporizhzhya regional council announced that all six reactors at the Zaporizhzhya NPP were online. The operating times of units 1-5 from the 1980s were extended after stress tests (see below on the history of the NPP).
“The Zaporizhzhia NPP operates normally
‘As of 9:30 a.m. on February 24, 2022, the Zaporizhzhia NPP is operating normally. Now, all 6 power units of Zaporizhzhya NPP are in operation. The total capacity of the generators is 5,170 MW,’ said the Acting General Director of Zaporizhzhya NPP Ihor Murashov.“
Four days after the start of the Ukraine war on 24.2.2022, Russia informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that it had taken military control over the area of the Zaporizhzhya NPP. However, the NPP itself remains under Ukraine’s supervision (until the annexation of the region on 3.10.2022):
“Earlier on 1 March, Ukraine informed the IAEA that all its nuclear power plants remained under the control of the national operator. In an update this morning, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) said it maintained communications with the country’s nuclear facilities and that the NPPs continued to operate normally. […]
The Director General has repeatedly stressed that any military or other action that could threaten the safety or security of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants must be avoided. He also said that operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure.”
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Update 6 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine, Vienna, 2.3.2022, www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/update-6-iaea-director-general-statement-on-situation-in-ukraine.
The president of Energoatom, Petro Kotin, told Ukrainian TV stations that only one of six reactor units was still in operation, but all reactors contained dangerous nuclear fuel that could be damaged by grenades. He reported resistance to the Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, with targeted shellfire hitting the science and training centre and the administration building, and destroying a training centre building and a scaffolding structure. At 4:30 h, the Ukrainians gave up their resistance, saying that the connection with Energoatom had been broken. Kotin literally:
“What threat is posed by what we have? Six reactors. There is fuel in each of them, a full load. Three reactor pools also have spent nuclear fuel. There is also a separated nuclear facility at the plant, a dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel that now has 150 containers of spent nuclear fuel.
Any projectile hitting it will cause a nuclear catastrophe. This is the main danger.”
На ЗАЭС работает один реактор, попадание снаряда приведет к ядерной катастрофе, Экономическая правда [ZNPP has a single reactor, a projectile hit would cause a nuclear catastrophe, Economic truth], Kiev, 4.3.2022, www.epravda.com.ua/rus/news/2022/03/4/683226/.
The Ukrainian magazine Energobusiness interviewed Petro Kotin, the head of the state energy company Energoatom. He reports on the situation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, saying that Russia has turned it into a military base.
“— To continue the question about the situation at Zaporizhzhya NPP (ZNPP), what is the current situation there?
— It has not changed. The staff is still working under pressure from the Russian military. There are hundreds of armed soldiers, heavy equipment, ammunition depots, etc. on the site. This means that everything that the IAEA should have rejected is happening: the physical presence of troops around the NPP, the security zone is violated, we no longer control it … Russia has turned the NPP site into a military base. The staff, being under pressure, cannot rest, although this is required by the safety regulations. The supply of food is also inadequate. All these facts are a direct violation of nuclear and radiation safety, and the IAEA should respond.
— Is there a rotation of staff?
— Yes. On the first day of the occupation, one shift lasted about 20 hours, while a normal rotation is 8 hours. […]”
Журнал “Энергобизнес”, Петро Котін: «Людей підвозять автобусами, вони пересідають у човен і пливуть до міста прип’ять, до ЧАЕС» [Magazine “Energobiznes”, Petro Kotin: “People are picked up by buses, change to a boat and go to the town of Pripyat, to the Chernobyl NPP”], Kiev, 20.4.2022, e-b.com.ua/petro-kotin-lyudei-pidvozyat-avtobusami-voni-peresidayut-u-coven-i-plivut-do-m-pripyat-do-caes-4014.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry condemned the Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, saying that it has been under the control of the military and Russian energy companies for three months. Kiev claims that despite this new shift in power, the NPP is under fire from Russian troops. It is urging the IAEA and the UN to work for the immediate withdrawal of the Russian occupiers:
“It states that the actions of Russian nuclear terrorists at the Zaporizhzhya NPP and in the temporarily occupied Enerhodar, constant missile attacks on the territory of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, including in the direction of NPPs, pose an unprecedented threat to the nuclear safety of Ukraine, Europe and the whole world.
The MFA called on IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to redouble their efforts to find ways to liberate Zaporizhzhya NPP from Russian invaders as soon as possible, return it to full control of Ukraine and restore the plant’s safety.”
Міністерство закордонних справ України рішуче засуджує захоплення Запорізької АЕС [Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the seizure of the Zaporizhzhya NPP], Kiev, 4.6.2022, www.energoatom.com.ua/news-archive-04-06-3.html.
The national energy company Energoatom reports a Russian provocation: the military forcibly gained access to the control centre of the NPP in order to take film footage. Energoatom publicly calls on the Ukrainian military to liberate and thus forcibly recapture the NPP Zaporizhzhya.
“Despite the efforts of the Russian scum, Zaporizhzhya NPP remains under the control of Energoatom and supplies electricity to the Ukrainian power grid, awaiting its soonest release with the help of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
A corresponding note about the criminal actions of the racists at the Zaporizhzhya NPP will be sent to the international nuclear safety authorities. ZNPP is Ukraine! Rashists and Rosatom, keep your hands off ZNPP!”
На Запорізькій АЕС просто зараз відбувається провокація за участі росЗМІ [A provocation involving Russian media is taking place at Zaporizhzhia NPP right now], Kiew, 10.7.2022, https://www.energoatom.com.ua/o-1007221.html:
INFORMATIONS (own texts with “quotations”, of Ukrainian and Russian sources into English: S.R.)
SOURCES (author, title, URL etc.)
The Russian Defence Ministry reports for the first time drone attacks by Ukrainian armed units on the Zaporizhzhya NPP under Russian control.
“For example, on 18 July, Ukrainian nationalist formations used two kamikaze drones to attack facilities at the Zaporizhzhya NPP (one drone was destroyed on approach to the NPP). Only by happy coincidence, this did not result in damage to the plant’s equipment and a man-made disaster.
Once again, we call on the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international organizations to exert influence on official Kyiv and take effective measures to prevent provocations at Ukraine’s radiation-hazardous facilities.”
Министерство обороны Российской Федерации, Заявление Межведомственного координационного штаба Российской Федерации по гуманитарному реагированию [Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Statement by the R.F. Inter-Ministerial Coordination Office on Humanitarian Assistance], Moscow, 20.7.2022, https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12429824@egNews
The Russian Ministry of Defence calls an emergency meeting: Between 16.20 – 17.24 Ukrainian armed formations had shelled the site of the Zaporizhzhya NPP and the town of Energodar with twenty 152 mm shells.
“It is a happy coincidence that the Ukrainian shells did not hit the oil-and-oil facility and the oxygen plant nearby, thus avoiding a bigger fire and a possible radiation accident at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. What makes this provocation by the Kiev regime especially cynical is that it took place at the time of the United Nations-sponsored international conference in New York on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.“
Министерство обороны Российской Федерации, Срочное заявление Министерства обороны Российской Федерации [Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Emergency Declaration of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation], Moscow, 5.8.2022, https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12431834@egNews:
The UN representative of the Russian Federation, Vassily Nebenzia, addresses the UN Security Council in a letter. He claims that since 18 July 2022, armed Ukrainian forces have been trying to retake the NPP Zaporizhzhya with multiple rocket launchers, small arms artillery and drones. Within the past month, there had been 12 attacks with about 50 artillery explosions and five kamikaze drones:
“The shelling resulted in damage to the power plant auxiliary support systems and to vital services of the city of Energodar.
The Ministry of Defence believes that Ukraine and its United States handlers are trying to play the card of causing what they regard as a minor breakdown at the nuclear power plant, disrupting its normal and safe operation, and blaming Russia.“
United Nations, General Assembly Security Council, A/76/924-S/2022/633, Letter dated 18 August 2022 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, digitallibrary.un.org/record/3985324?ln=en:
The picture above was sent by the UN-representative of the Russian Federation, Vassily Nebenzia as attachment to his letter to the UN Security Council. In it, he reported new damage to the NPP caused by Ukrainian military shellfire. One shell had damaged pipes carrying cooling water between units 2 and 3. Other impacts had occurred at the guardhouse, the welding facility and near the oxygen-nitrogen station. Communication lines were damaged, as was the storage facility for fresh nuclear fuel.
United Nations, General Assembly Security Council, A/76/933-S/2022/648, Letter dated 26 August 2022 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council, digitallibrary.un.org/record/3986839?ln=en.
The State Nuclear Regulatory Authority of Ukraine presents the situation differently. It claims that the shells fired at the NPP were fired by the Russian military.
„Yesterday, as a result of shelling by Russian troops, all power lines connecting Zaporizhzhya NPP to the Ukrainian power grid were damaged.
Units 5 and 6 were shut down by emergency protection systems.
In addition, as a result of the occupiers’ shells hitting the overpass connecting NPP Unit 2 with the special building designed for radioactive waste management and decontamination, the pipelines of network water and chemically desalinated water passing through the overpass were damaged.“
The Ukrainian authority claims that Russia had fired at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, which is under its military control. It was responsible for disconnecting it from the Ukrainian energy grid.
Державна інспекція ядерного регулювання України, Ситуація на Запорізькій АЕС (станом на 8:00 26 серпня 2022 року) [State Nuclear Regulatory Commission of Ukraine, situation at Zaporizhzhya NPP (as of: 26. August 2022, 8:00 Uhr)], Kiev, 26.8.2022, snriu.gov.ua/news/situaciya-na-zaporizkij-aes-stanom-na-800-26-serpnya-2022-roku
The Ukrainian energy company Energoatom published a map based on weather forecasts. It marks those areas that could be contaminated by a reactor accident. According to the map, part of southern Ukraine, Crimea and southwestern regions of Russia are at risk of radioactive contamination:
“The population in potentially dangerous areas should be given iodine prophylaxis and restricted from being in the open without an acute need, and in case of an acute need, respiratory protection equipment should be used.
It is also recommended to seal rooms (windows and doors), turn off air conditioners, fans, close ventilation openings, chimneys, etc., introduce special operating regimes for schools and kindergartens, organize sanitary barriers at entrances to rooms, which include removal of outer clothing and shoeing.
In addition, it is recommended to take measures to seal and pack food, water, linen, documents and valuables in potentially hazardous areas, limit hiking in the forest and do not violate the ban on hunting and fishing in local water bodies […]. “
Украинские Национальные Новости, Радиационное облако накроет часть россии: Энергоатом о возможных последствиях аварии на ЗАЭС [Ukrainian National News, Radiation cloud to cover part of Russia: Energoatom on possible consequences of ZNPP accident], Kiev, 28.8.2022, www.unn.com.ua/ru/news/1991926-radiatsiyna-khmara-nakriye-chastinu-rosiyi-energoatom-pro-mozhlivi-naslidki-avariyi-na-zaes.
cf. also: Енергоатом, https://t.me/energoatom_ua/9248.
Source there: Державна інспекція ядерного регулювання України, Прогнозування наслідків потенційної аварії для енергоблоку ВВЕР-1000 на Запорізькій АЕС [State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, Forecasting the consequences of a potential accident for the VVER-1000 power unit at Zaporizhzhya NPP], 28.8.2022, Kiev, snriu.gov.ua/news/prognozuvannya-naslidkiv-potencijnoyi-avariyi-dlya-energobloku-vver-1000-na-zaporizkij-aes
From the IAEA report on the situation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP after the visit of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on 1.9.2022:
„163. The situation in Ukraine is unprecedented. It is the first time a military conflict has occurred amid the facilities of a large, established nuclear power programme. A nuclear accident can have serious impacts within the country and beyond its borders, and the international community is relying on the IAEA to perform a rigorous assessment of the situation and to keep it informed with accurate and timely information.“
The Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi spoke at length to the UN Security Council about seven safety pillars at the Zaporizhzhya NPP:
“The first important safety pillar that exists at any nuclear facility is not to violate its physical integrity. […] The second pillar, which is important, states
that all safety and security systems and equipment should operate normally and unhindered and be fully functional. […] The third pillar states that the members of the operating staff must be able to perform their duties without undue pressure or difficult circumstances. […]
The fourth pillar refers to the off-site power supply. I have also referred to that in the past, and, as everyone knows, that is crucially important in the sense that a nuclear power plant without any external power supply may lose crucial functionalities, including the cooling of its reactors and spent fuel. Without that, we could have a very serious nuclear accident. With regard to this pillar, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommends that the off-site power supply line redundancy be re-established and be made available at all times. For that to be possible, all military activities that may affect the power supply systems must be stopped immediately.
The fifth pillar states that there must be uninterrupted logistical supply chains and transportation to and from the site. […] The sixth pillar refers to the functioning of the radiation monitoring systems in order to ascertain the situation and whether there is radiation in the atmosphere. […] The seventh and last pillar states that there must be continued and reliable communications with the Ukrainian regulator and others.”
INFORMATIONS (own texts with “quotations”, of Ukrainian and Russian sources into English: S.R.)
SOURCES (author, title, URL etc.)
As reported by the Russian news portal INTERFAX.RU, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asked the IAEA for clarification on its report of 5.9.2022 on the current situation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. He is quoted in the following text passages:
” ‘There is a need for further clarification because the report has a number of issues. I will not list them now, but we have requested these clarifications from the IAEA Director General,” he told Interfax on the sidelines of the WEF taking place in Vladivostok, commenting on the IAEA report on the ZNPP situation.
Vasili Nebenzia, Russia regrets that the IAEA report does not identify the source of the ZNPP shelling, said earlier at a UN Security Council meeting.
‘We regret that your report on the implementation of IAEA safeguards in Ukraine for the period from April to September this year, which appeared just a couple of hours ago, does not directly indicate the source of the shelling,’ Nebenzya told the UN Security Council on Tuesday. – ‘We understand your position as head of the international regulator, but in the current situation it is essential to call things by their proper names.’ “
In the German business weekly Wirtschaftswoche, security experts assess the situation completely differently: according to Sebastian Stransky, there could not be a second Chernobyl because the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya is protected from the crash of a fighter plane by 1.5 m thick concrete layers:
“Let me be very clear: there will not be a second Chernobyl with a power plant like Zaporizhzhya. […] As I said, Zaporizhzhya is a pressurised water reactor. There, the control and cooling are carried out via water circuits with multiple safeguards. Chernobyl was a reactor with so-called graphite-moderated pressure tubes. Once ignited, the graphite used in these tubes burns like hellfire and is almost impossible to extinguish.”
Ukrainisches AKW. „Ein zweites Tschernobyl wird es mit Saporischschja nicht geben“ [Ukrainian NPP. “There will not be a second Chernobyl with Zaporizhzhya”], Wirtschaftswoche, 7.9.2022, www.wiwo.de/technologie/umwelt/ukrainisches-akw-ein-zweites-tschernobyl-wird-es-mit-saporischschja-nicht-geben/28663272.html
Two experts from the weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Tjade Brinkmann and Alexander Sarovic, also refer to the IAEA report. They confirm the current danger, but put it into perspective by referring to the existing safety system: “The IAEA has presented its report on the nuclear power plant – and expresses ‘grave concern’. Experts share this assessment, but see no acute danger. This is also due to the double safety systems.”
Cf. on the other hand the report of the responsible nuclear regulatory authority from Kiev of 12.9.2022.
Wie groß ist die Gefahr für einen nuklearen Unfall in Saporischschja? [Embattled NPP. How great is the danger of a nuclear accident in Zaporizhzhya?], Der Spiegel, 8.9.2022, www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/saporischschja-nach-iaea-bericht-wie-gross-ist-die-gefahr-fuer-einen-nuklearen-unfall-a-55714f47-9563-463b-9c9d-100b997c621f
The chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Institution of Ukraine (SNRIU) explains the role of the power supply for the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which has to be maintained because the last unit 6 was shut down the day before and the plant no longer has its own power source. Without an external power line, the cooling of the shutdown units is at risk. The authority accused the Russian occupants of the nuclear power plant of endangering this supply line through shelling:
“If the occupiers damage the only currently operating line, electricity will have to be generated by diesel generators. However, the fuel reserve to ensure their operation is limited – it is designed for 10 days.
‘It is now very difficult to bring new diesel fuel to the uncontrolled territory. In the event of a power outage and the end of diesel fuel reserves, even a severe accident is possible. We are talking about the melting of nuclear fuel with a possible release of radioactive products into the atmosphere, the volume of which is comparable to Fukushima and Chernobyl,’ aid Oleg Korikov.”
Державна інспекція ядерного регулювання України, За умови переведення енергоблоків ЗАЕС у «холодний зупин», важливо зберегти з’єднання станції із енергосистемою України – в.о. Голови Держатомрегулювання [State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, If ZNPP units are put into cold standstill, it is important to maintain the plant’s connection to the Ukrainian power grid – Acting SNRIU Chairman], Kiev, 12.9.2022, snriu.gov.ua/news/za-umovi-perevedennya-energoblokiv-zaes-u-holodnij-zupin-vazhlivo-zberegti-zyednannya-stanciyi-iz-energosistemoyu-ukrayini-vo-golovi-derzhatomregulyuvannya.
Professor Dr Clemens Walther, Head of the Institute for Radioecology and Radiation Protection, University of Hanover, gives an interview to Sabine Priess of Radio Berlin-Brandenburg. He mentioned four possible scenarios for a reactor accident, all of which he considers unlikely:
“Escalation level three would be that the reactors themselves are no longer cooled. […] So if the power supply is no longer there, you have to get the power for the coolant pumps from somewhere else. That means emergency generators or emergency power from outside. If both fail, the reactors – even if they are switched off – could overheat. This could damage the fuel elements and even lead to a meltdown. […] Anyone who now thinks of Chernobyl and the spread to Germany is going a step too far. Because a core meltdown in modern reactors does not necessarily mean that radioactivity will be released. The safety standard of the Ukrainian power plant is roughly comparable to those of European pressurised water reactors.
Escalation level four would be a direct hit and damage to all the reactor’s shells. You have to imagine it like an onion. Anyone wanting to damage the reactor would have to penetrate all the shells at the same time. But the shells would certainly withstand grazing shots or individual grenades. This scenario, in which radioactivity would be virtually under the open sky, is highly unlikely. […]
Besides, one has to ask oneself who could have an interest in this at all. Who would see an advantage in deliberately destroying the reactor?”
Cf. on the other hand the forecast of possible radioactive contamination of the area around the NPP and the warnings to the population, published by the State Nuclear Regulatory Commission of Ukraine on 28.8.2022 (see above); source: snriu.gov.ua/news/prognozuvannya-naslidkiv-potencijnoyi-avariyi-dlya-energobloku-vver-1000-na-zaporizkij-aes.
Nuklearexperte hält zweites Tschernobyl für “höchst unwahrscheinlich”[Nuclear expert considers second Chernobyl “highly unlikely”], Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, 14.9.2022, www.rbb24.de/panorama/beitrag/2022/09/akw-ukraine-radioaktivitaet-austritt-saporischschja-berlin-brandenburg.html.
The 35 member states of the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw completely from the nuclear power plant. In addition, Moscow alone is held responsible for the military attacks on the nuclear power plant. According to World Nuclear News:
“expresses grave concern that the Russian Federation has not heeded the call of the Board (of IAEA governors) to immediately cease all actions against and at nuclear facilities in Ukraine”.
The Board of Governors “deplores” Russia’s “persistent violent actions against nuclear facilities in Ukraine”, and “calls upon” Russia to “immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.”
According to this press report, Russia and China voted against the resolution. Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India and Pakistan abstained, while 26 states voted in favour of the resolution: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the USA.
The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection(BfS) reports on its website about the situation at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant::
“In view of the tense situation at the Ukrainian NPP Zaporizhzhya, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) is monitoring the situation on site particularly closely. In August and September, the power plant was again and repeatedly the target of attacks. However, there are no indications that radioactive substances could have escaped. […]
BfS does not see any acute danger of a release of radioactive substances in Zaporizhzhya, but shares the concern of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) about a permanently safe operation of the power plant.”
Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, Aktuelles, BfS verfolgt Lage am KKW Saporischschja [Federal Office for Radiation Protection, News, BfS is monitoring the situation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP,], Salzgitter, 19.9.2022, www.bfs.de/SharedDocs/Kurzmeldungen/BfS/DE/2022/0225-ukraine.html.
This URL was no longer accessible on 15.11.2022, it appeared almost word for word under the URL: https://www.bfs.de/SharedDocs/Kurzmeldungen/BfS/DE/2022/0225-ukraine.html
In his report on the situation at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, the Director General of the IAEA confirms renewed shelling of the nuclear facility after a few days of calm. The IAEA staff stationed there informed him of explosions on the NPP site on 26 and 27 September 2022, as a result of which the windows of a turbine hall were broken. According to Rafael Grossi, the dangerous situation can only be eased by establishing a military protection zone. He hopes to achieve this goal soon through diplomatic negotiations with Ukraine and Russia. The report states:
“IAEA experts present at the ZNPP reported to Agency headquarters that shelling took place at around 5 pm local time yesterday near the facility’s electrical switchyard, a few hundred meters from the plant’s training centre, but there were no reports of damage. Other explosions were heard further away.
Today at 8 am, two explosions occurred near a channel that carries water from a reservoir to the plant for its cooling system, an essential element for nuclear safety. There was no damage to plant structures and equipment, but windows in the turbine hall of reactor unit 2 were broken, the IAEA experts said. According to senior ZNPP operating staff, the cause of the blasts is currently unclear and is being investigated, the Agency experts added.”
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Update 106 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine, Vienna, 27.9.2022, www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/update-106-iaea-director-general-statement-on-situation-in-ukraine.
The Russian media portal Zaporozhye reports on the latest developments in the Russian-dominated administration of the Zaporozhye region, with the head of the electoral commission Galina Katyushchenko announcing that 85.4 of those eligible to vote had taken part in the “referendum on the reunification of the Zaporozhye region and the Russian Federation“, of which 93.11 per cent had voted “yes”.
In addition, the media portal reported the same day on the proposal of Vladimir Rogov, a member of the (Russian-dominated) Zaporizhzhya Region State Administration: “The Zaporizhzhya NPP should become the property of Russia as soon as possible after the region joins the Russian Federation, no separate statuses and subordinations of the nuclear power plant are required […].”
ZOV Запорожье [ZOV Saporoschje], Zaporizhzhya, 28.9.2022: Итоги голосования на референдуме о воссоединении Запорожской области и Российской Федерации [Results of the Referendum on the Reunification of the Zaporizhzhya Region and the Russian Federation], zp-news.ru/society/2022/09/28/39189.html;
Власти Запорожской области: ЗАЭС должна перейти в собственность России [Zaporizhzhya region: ZNPP should be transferred to Russian ownership], zp-news.ru/society/2022/09/28/39201.html.
On the same day that the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya and the Russian Federation signed the accession treaty in Moscow, the USA and Albania submitted a resolution to the 15-member UN Security Council condemning the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories. It failed because of Russia’s veto. Four other states, China, Brazil, India and Gabon abstained. The three permanent members of the UN Security Council, the USA, the United Kingdom and France, as well as the non-permanent members Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Albania, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates voted in favour.
On the same day, the Russian energy company Gazprom reported that there had been explosions at the two gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the North Sea. The cause of the supposed sabotage is still unknown. The Ukrainian energy company Energoatom announced that the head of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, Ihor Murashov, had been arrested (see above, 1.10.2022).
United Nations, Russia vetoes Security Council resolution condemning attempted annexation of Ukraine regions, UN News, New York, 30.9.2022, news.un.org/en/story/2022/09/1129102.
Gazprom says 800 million cubic metres of gas escaped from pipelines, Tass reports, reuters, 30.9.2022, www.reuters.com/business/energy/gazprom-says-800-million-cubic-metres-gas-escaped-pipelines-tass-2022-09-30/.
Russian President Vladimir Putin published a decree according to which the Zaporizhzhya NPP is to become Russian property. For this purpose, Rosenergoatom will be founded as a joint-stock company, a sub-organisation of the Russian state corporation Rosatom. All current employees of the nuclear power plant will be taken over.
ЗАЭС перейдет в собственность России [ZNPP to be handed over to Russia], Moscow, ria.ru/20221005/zaes-1821776300.html; Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 05.10.2022 № 711 [Decree of the President of the Russian Federation vom 5.10.2022 No. 711], publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001202210050022.
The president of the National nuclear energy company “Energoatom”, Petro Kotin, addresses the employees of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, announcing that he has taken over the management of the plant:
“I appeal to you not only as the President of Energoatom. In accordance with the applicable laws, permits and regulations, I have decided to take over the duties of the General Director of the Zaporizhzhia NPP. The administration of the station has been transferred to Kiev since the abduction of ZNPP Director General Ihor Murashov. All further decisions on the operation of the station will be taken directly at the headquarters of NNEGC Energoatom.”
Енергоатом, Звернення президента ДП «НАЕК «Енергоатом», в.о. генерального директора Запорізької АЕС Петра Котіна до працівників ЗАЕС [Energoatom, Address of the President of SE NNEGC “Energoatom”, the Acting General Director of Zaporizhzhya NPP Petro Kotin to the employees of ZNPP], Kiev, 5.10.2022, www.energoatom.com.ua/o-0510222.html.
Shortly after midnight, three days after the Russian takeover of the Ukrainian NPP Zaporizhzhya, the nuclear facility briefly became a ticking nuclear bomb again: Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company “Energoatom” and the Director General of the IAEA report that the external power connection to the nuclear power plant has been interrupted (sources on the right). The diesel generators for self-sufficiency had started automatically. But this emergency power supply will only work for 10 days.
“Last night at 00:59, due to another shelling by Russian troops, the last connection line to the 750 kV power grid ZNPP-Dniprovska was damaged and shut down.
As a result, the Zaporizhzhya NPP was completely disconnected from the grid. The diesel generators were switched on in automatic mode. The available diesel fuel reserves for operation in this mode will last for 10 days.”
The Ukrainian company “Energoatom“ blames Russia for this and for the threat of reactor meltdown. The report makes this clear with an expressive picture:
Енергоатом, Сьогодні вночі о 00:59 через черговий обстріл російськими військами була пошкоджена і відімкнулась остання лінія зв‘язку з енергосистемою 750кВ ЗАЕС – Дніпровська [Energoatom, Last night at 00:59, due to another shelling by Russian troops, the last connection line to the 750 kV power grid of ZNPP – Dniprovska was damaged and interrupted], Kiev, 8.10.2022, www.energoatom.com.ua/o-0810221.html
Cf. also: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Update 114 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine, Vienna, 8.10.2022, https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/update-114-iaea-director-general-statement-on-situation-in-ukraine
The Russian Defence Ministry, on the other hand, accuses the Ukrainian military of firing on the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Kiev wants to bring it back under its control:
“During the day, the city of Enerhodar and the area adjacent to the NPP were shelled twice by the armed forces of Ukraine from Grad multiple rocket systems. […]. Repair works are being completed to restore power supply to the NPP and the city of Enerhodar.”
Министерство обороны Российской Федерации (Минобороны России), Новости, 8.10.2022 [Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, News, 8.10.2022], https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12440875@egNews:
In his speech, the head of the Ukrainian energy company Energoatom encourages the Ukrainian armed forces to recapture the Zaporizhzhya NPP by force.
“Our soldiers are taking back Ukrainian cities from the invaders step by step, advancing further and further. Recently they liberated the city of Kherson and part of Kherson region from Russian occupation! […]
The Russians no longer have a chance. Therefore, the liberation of Enerhodar and Zaporizhzhia NPP is a matter of time, patience, endurance and heroism of Zaporizhzhia nuclear workers and residents of the temporarily occupied territories.
We believe in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, victory will be ours!”
The Russian news portal RIA Novosti publishes an infographic on the impact sites on the site of the Zaporizhzhya NPP, which are said to be the result of shells from the Ukrainian army. Citing sources from the Russian Ministry of Defence, it says there have been a total of 329 impacts on the NPP site and the immediately neighbouring area since the beginning of August 2022. Another map presents a forecast of possible radiation damage after a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhya NPP.
Обстрелы Запорожской АЭС, Инфографика [Shelling of Zaporizhzhya, infographic], Ria Novosti, 6.12.2022, https://ria.ru/20221206/obstrely_zaes-1836562974.html?in=t
The infographic on the left: the NPP site would be extremely heavily contaminated (dark brown), the neighbouring areas would be at (very) high risk (brown and green). A large part of Ukraine would be affected by medium contamination (purple), and Central Eastern Europe would face an increased radiation risk (pink). In contrast, Ukraine’s forecasts of 28.8.2022 predict contamination of southern Ukraine and Russian areas (see above). Both predictions are to be taken seriously.