Ukraine faces risks as nuclear power plant is attacked by Russia


Yaretzy Martinez, Contributor

On February 24th, 2022, the lives of Ukrainians were changed forever because on this day, Russia chose to invade Ukraine. Ukraine has been facing many risks with this war, but recently they faced a bigger risk. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant near Enerhodar, which is in the country’s southeast, was attacked by Russian forces.

Ukraine currently has 15 working nuclear reactors, and these reactors produce half of the country’s electricity. Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant. It has 6 reactors and a capacity of nearly 6 gigawatts. This power plant has now been occupied by Russian troops. The power plant was hit by a missile which then caused a fire to break out. Thankfully, the fire was put out and it did not cause any direct harm to the reactors. Although it did cause scientists to acknowledge the potential danger that could happen if this power plant were to be attacked.

The chances of this nuclear power plant being hit and causing damage are low. This is because the reactors have a modern design that protects them more. Although the chances are low, it does not mean it can not cause damage. Nuclear power plants contain pools of water where spent fuel rods are kept as they cool down. This is a hazard because if one of these pools were to be damaged, it could cause the water to leak out or boil off which would lead to the rods overheating and causing a fire. This fire would be a hazard to people in the vicinity of the plant and to Russia as well. The wind is flowing toward Russia so this fire could potentially cause harm there as well. The chances may be low but never zero. It is important to keep this in mind.

The nuclear power plant had five of six reactors shut down on March 4th. When these reactors are shut down, they are highly radioactive and continue to produce heat. This means that the core of a reactor must be cooled when it is shut down. If it is not cooled, it has the potential to overheat. A similar situation happened with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, which caused power to be cut off and three reactors to melt down. If the core overheats, it can cause the same effect as the nuclear power plant in Japan which we clearly do not want to happen. The nuclear power plant is one of the many issues Ukraine is facing during this time. Many people fear that this conflict could result in World War 3. Ukraine is, and has been suffering; hopefully this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.