Power severed to Chernobyl, threatening irradiated fuel pools


Fighting around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power facility has severed a power line used to supply power to the two on-site irradiated fuel pools that house 20,000 capsules of radioactive waste. This waste is not just used and highly-radioactive fuel, but also ruined and radioactive material from the exploded reactor that melted down in 1986.

Without electricity grid power, the site is relying on emergency diesel generators to power the site. That fuel can supply electricity to circulate the water that cools the radioactive waste for about 48 hours. If the emergency diesel runs out, the irradiated fuel could begin to heat up and would melt down, releasing as much radiation as the initial 1986 meltdown and explosion, which contaminated most of Europe.

Ukrainians have asked for a ceasefire so that the power line may be repaired. A Ukrainian spokesman has said Russia’s response was that they will kill anyone trying to get near the line. As of the time of this writing, Russia’s position has not changed. There has been no way to communicate with Chernobyl staff, who have been working for 12 days in this extremely tense and risky situation. Radiation monitors at the Chernobyl site are also down.

UPDATE: The IAEA claims the fuel in the pools has cooled to a level sufficient to pose no imminent safety threat. Some contend that operational reactors pose much more of a threat.

UPDATE March 10: Simplyinfo.org has a good technical summary, informing the irradiated fuel pool danger, as well as updated photos for Zaporizhzhia.

Webcam photo of nuclear waste (ISF-2) of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Webcam is currently offline.

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