(UnitedVoice.com) – In April 1986, Ukraine was a part of the former Soviet Union when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant experienced a catastrophic disaster. Massive amounts of nuclear radiation spilled into the region because of a Soviet design flaw that led to an explosion that triggered a partial meltdown of the reactor core. As horrifying as the consequences were, could the region and beyond be facing another nuclear disaster?
On Thursday, February 24, Russia attacked the Chernobyl nuclear power plant as it waged war against Ukraine. Russian forces overtook the facility, forcing plant operators to cut the power to the region. The Russian attack shocked the Western world, fearing another Chernobyl catastrophe that could impact much more of the world than in 1986.
Could Cherynobl Become a Massive Unnecessary Catastrophe?
The Ukrainian government classified Cherynobl as an exclusion zone for safety purposes in 2016 due to the meltdown in 1986. The recent damage Russia inflicted on the nuclear power plant was so significant plant operators had to disconnect it from the electric grid, creating a whole set of problems. Not only is the region without power, but the power plant doesn’t have electricity, and gas-powered generators are sustaining it temporarily. Once the generators run out of fuel, it’s all downhill from there.
Concerns are mounting. If coolers put in place 30 years ago fail, their loss could cause imminent radioactive contamination impacting much of Europe and Russia. Regulators say the 2,000 spent fuel assemblies stored at Chernobyl require constant cooling. Without electricity, pumps can’t supply the cooling required to control the reactor temperatures. Without cooling, radioactive substances will eventually be released into the atmosphere.
Regulators added Putin’s attack on the nuclear facility was barbaric and put all of Europe in grave danger. They believe the Russian forces who took control of the site are already at risk of radiation exposure. Still, Putin hasn’t allowed maintenance teams to begin repairing the facility.
Chernobyl Not Alone
Chernobyl wasn’t the only nuclear power plant attacked by Russia. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant sits 400 miles southeast of Kyiv and is Europe’s largest nuclear facility. Russia also attacked it. Fortunately, the Russians didn’t damage the facility.
Immediately after the news broke, the US embassy in Kyiv declared the attack on a nuclear facility was a war crime. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country made it through a night that could have changed the story and history of Europe forever.
Nuclear experts say the issue in Chernobyl may have been overhyped. Several nuclear energy experts say that the fuel rods have been cooling for over 20 years and pose little to no risk because time and physics are on safety’s side.
Putin might have escaped Russia’s unnecessary risk of wartime actions this time. Let’s hope there’s not a next time.
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