Publicatie Laka-bibliotheek:
The vulnerability of nuclear plants during military conflict. Lessons from Fukushima Daiichi, Focus on Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

AuteurGreenpeace Int., Jan Vande Putte, Shaun Burnie
Datummaart 2022

Uit de publicatie:

The vulnerability of nuclear plants during military conflict
Lessons from Fukushima Daiichi
Focus on Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
2 March 2022

Briefing - Greenpeace International
by Jan Vande Putte (radiation protection advisor & nuclear campaigner for 
Greenpeace East Asia & Greenpeace Belgium) and Shaun Burnie (senior nuclear 
specialist, Greenpeace East Asia)

Ukraine has a complex and large-scale nuclear power infrastructure. It is a 
country with 15 operational nuclear reactors of which 9 were in operation on 
February 28th 2022. In addition, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), with 
its unit 4 reactor that was destroyed in 1986, 1 is in Ukraine. It is obvious 
that in a time of war, the operation of these systems are at risk of disruption 
with the potential for significant, even severe consequences.
Nuclear power plants are some of the most complex and sensitive industrial 
installations, which require a very complex set of resources in ready state at 
all times to keep them operational. This cannot be guaranteed in a war.

An operational nuclear power plant requires at all times electricity supply to 
power pumps and water supply to cool its nuclear fuel, both in the reactor and 
in the adjacent spent nuclear fuel pool. Even when the reactor is shut down, 
there is an enormous amount of residual heat in the fuel core which requires 
continuous cooling. Without cooling, the water in the reactor core (and spent 
fuel pool) begins to heat. In the case of an operational reactor the heating is 
rapid. The water reaches boiling point and begins to evaporate, and the hot 
nuclear reactor fuel assemblies are at risk of being exposed to air which then 
would lead to a thermal reaction of the nuclear fuel assembly cladding and 
reactor core fuel melt. In the case of nuclear fuel in the spent fuel pool, the 
highly exothermic chemical reaction is called a runaway zirconium oxidation 
reaction or autocatalytic ignition, with resultant release of a very large 
volume of radioactivity.