Ongoing Situational Report: Zaporizhzhia Power Plant

Written by Akshat Sharma

September 11, 2022

Safety | Situation Room

Travel Risk: HIGH

Arial view of the reactors at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
Image courtesy: The Tech Outlook |Licensed Under Creative Commons

A brief introduction to the situation

  • There are 15 reactors spread across four nuclear power plants in Ukraine with a combined power generation capacity of 13 Giga Watts. These are:
    • Khmelnytskyi, Netishyn
    • Rivne, Varash
    • South Ukraine, Yuzhnoukrainsk
    • Zaporizhzhia, Enerhodar
  • The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe. It has a total of 6 reactors that can generate 5,700 MW of electricity. On 3 March 2022, Russian forces attacked the plant and seized control of the area. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is currently investigating the power plant to give a comprehensive threat forecast.

What has led to the current situation?

  • The conflict at Zaporizhzhia is fuelled by the radioactive stations located in the city, which has led to its strategic importance. The plant is also a critical contributor to the nation’s power supply. Hence, Ukraine has been constantly trying to regain control of the region. This situation poses a serious threat of a nuclear disaster that can impact several countries in the region.
  • The plant, under Russian occupancy, is being operated by Ukrainian staff. The external power supply to the plant had been disconnected due to the ongoing conflict. This forced the plant to use its only remaining reactor to generate the power needed for essential cooling operations. On 10 September, one of the power supply lines was restored allowing for the reactor to be shut down. This power, whether supplied by a reactor within the plant or by an external source, is needed for cooling. Failure to do so might have resulted in a nuclear meltdown.
  • The plant is currently being switched over to a cold state.
  • Additionally, the nuclear waste stored on the site is at constant risk of damage by artillery fire. This may lead to a restricted yet risky radioactive discharge.

Is it Safe to Travel to Ukraine?

  • It is currently NOT safe to travel to Ukraine due to the current war climate between Kyiv and Moscow. The situation near the Zaporizhzhia power plant is further a high risk due to the threat of immediate radioactive exposure. The consequences of a radioactive disaster in Europe can be generational.

 Assessment

  • The impact of a radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia power plant is expected to be mostly restricted. However, in the worst-case scenario, the disaster may affect Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and parts of Germany
  • Travellers are advised to exercise increased caution while travelling to these countries. Maintaining a distance from the epicentre of the leak, i.e. the Zaporizhzhia Power Plant, will considerably lower the safety and security risks.
  • If present within the impact radius of a leak, travellers must evacuate the area immediately. If unable to evacuate, they must find a robust fallout shelter with thick walls able to withstand any radiation. A fallout shelter is recommended for a two-week period till radiations lose intensity. 
  • If exposed to radiation, the travellers should seek appropriate treatment immediately.
  • Consider a Sitata membership which will give you disruption and threat warnings while you’re on the ground along with emergency travel assistance should you find yourself in a troubling situation.

Conclusion 

  • The travel risk to Ukraine is currently HIGH. Many countries currently advise against travelling to Ukraine due to the lack of personal security.
  • For businesses that require a more detailed report on the situation, please refer to our in-depth country analysis report which is available from our support representatives.
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