More Ukraine reactors lose power


Military action around both the Rivne and Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plants — not previously embroiled in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — caused both plants to lose access to offsite power supplies earlier this week as Russian missile attacks continued to target power lines and other key infrastructure in Ukraine.

Beyond Nuclear has been warning since before the Russian invasion began of the severe risks to operating power plants should offsite power be lost. This has already happened several times at the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the southeastern region. All of those reactors have now ceased operation for safety reasons. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in a region now “annexed” by Russia, has also been occupied by Russian forces since March 4 and the fate of Ukrainian operating personnel, as well as safety conditions there, are largely unknown. The International Atomic Energy Agency has a small but permanent presence at the site.

When offsite power is lost — needed to cool the reactors — the facilities rely on backup diesel generators. However, these can be unreliable and also must depend on a steady supply of diesel fuel. Ukraine relies on nuclear power for more than 50% of its electricity, so the downing of power lines by Russian forces not only puts the nuclear power plants in peril, but reduces access to electricity, a severe (and doubtless deliberate) hardship imposed on the Ukrainian population as they head into the deep freeze of winter. (Headline photo of Rivne app by Victor Korniyenko/Wikimedia Commons)


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