New mines detected around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant again

New mines detected around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant again

New mines have been detected around the Zaporizhzhia NPP and on its territory, the recent Ukraine intelligence repots say.

It became known that the russian troops have mined the following sites:

• outside the perimeter of the NPP (separate minefields);

• along its perimeter near the cooling pond;

• in designated places on its territory.

According to the military orders of the russian Federation, the mines were planted for "defensive purposes." 

Lets investigate the difference between the nuclear reactors of the Chornobyl NPP and the Zaporizhzhia NPP to understand the potential risk of radiation and its volume and the level of safety. Unlike the Chernobyl NPP, the Zaporizhzhia NPP is protected much more reliably. 

The reactor at the Zaporizhzhia NPP is placed in hermetic confinement that not only keeps radiation inside the power unit, but also protects it from external influences, such as natural disasters, plane crashes, terrorist attacks and explosions. The confinement has a certain safety margin, as well as its limit. It can withstand the fall of a light aircraft or an explosion near the power unit, whereas the strike with a powerful weapon, for example, a missile or a bomb, may well lead to its damage. However, damage to the confinement will not result in damage to the reactor. To damage the reactor, it is necessary to hit the same place several times with high-precision projectiles. The first one or two projectiles penetrate the hermetic confinement, and then the next ones, hitting the same hole inside, can damage the reactor. If a radiation release occurs through a hole punched in the shell, it will in any case be smaller than in Chornobyl, and the scale of the accident will be different. The biggest radiation release will occur only if the shells of all power units of the ZNPP are broken and a nuclear reactor is affected.

It cannot be ruled out that the consequences of such an accident will affect an area 100-200 km long. Weaker increases in the background radiation can be felt at a greater distance, because it depends on the direction and strength of the wind.

First of all, the surrounding areas are affected by the radiation cloud, followed by more distant ones. According to the data obtained during the simulation of the accident at the ZNPP based on the model under which an earthquake occurs, the radiation cloud picked up by the wind can spread over an area of 2 million sq. km. An exclusion zone near the NPP can reach 30,000  sq. km. Taking into account the location of the ZNPP, pollution will affect a large area of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, as well as Georgia, Turkey, and Bulgaria. In case of the prevalence of the west or south-west winds, the Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk (including TOT) regions of Ukraine, border regions of the Russian Federation (Rostov, Voronezh, Belgorod and Kursk regions) will be affected. Winds can carry radiation to Europe. The disaster can devastate most of Europe, the Russian Federation, and the Mediterranean. In case of the prevalence of the northern or northeast winds on the day of the accident, the nearby regions will be in the path of radioactive clouds (Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, Crimean peninsula). The level of this background radiation will not immediately lead to the death of people; no one will die immediately. But there will be an economic loss because of an exclusion zone. The consequences may not appear immediately, but in the long term they can be very serious. 

Two million Ukrainians will need to be immediately resettled from the cities of Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih and their adjacent areas. To eliminate the consequences of the accident, it will be necessary to involve more than a million people.

During the Chornobyl accident, fuel remained in the operating reactor. A lot of radionuclides - both short-lived and long-lived - were accumulated in the fuel. In the first days after the accident, radiation released was dominated by short-lived nuclides, which at that time had not decayed yet. The short-lived nuclides in the three non-operating power units at the Zaporizhzhia NPP have long decayed, so the level of radiation in them is lower. In the power unit, which was disconnected at the beginning of August 2022 due to shelling, some of short-lived nuclides, such as iodine-131, decayed, but not all.

For example, cesium-134 has a half-life of two years, cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. Thus, it is likely that the Russian Federation is using the Zaporizhzhia NPP to play on the West's fears about a nuclear disaster in Ukraine. It is also likely that the Russian Federation is trying to stop the desire of the West to provide military support to Ukraine for a counteroffensive. In addition, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation can effectively use the Zaporizhzhia NNP as a "shield" to prevent strikes against Russian forces and equipment by the Defense Forces of Ukraine.

If missiles strike the Dry Spent Fuel Storage Facility, radiation will be released, because spent fuel contains long-lived nuclides. But it will be local, within 10-30 meters.

Earlier we have publish two scenarios of possible consequences of a terrorist act at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The absence of a military response from the West to the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP  is for sure an explicit consent to a blow-up of the Zaporizhzhia NPP.

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