Nine days into its destructive military operation, Russia captured Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power plant.
What is the significance of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power plant ?
- The Zaporizhzhia NPP is located in the city of Enerhodar, on the banks of the Dnieper river, just 200 kilometers from the conflicted Donbas region where Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting.
- It is also 550 km south-east of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
- It is one of the four nuclear power plants in Ukraine and also the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
- It produces one-fifth of the country’s electricity and contributes half of the country’s nuclear power generation.
- All the reactors in the plant are VVVER-1000 or Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR), originally designed in the Soviet Union.
- The reactors in the Zaporizhzhia plant are Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR), which have a two-circuit design.
- This means that the nuclear-contaminated steam does not generate the final energy, but is used to power another circuit with non-contaminated steam, which in turn makes the turbines run. Experts have pointed out that these reactors also have a back-up cooling system for emergencies.
- The operator of the power plant said that background radioactivity levels at the plant site were 0.1 microsieverts per hour, much below the accepted levels of radiation. In comparison with the levels during the Chernobyl disaster — 300 sieverts — this is many millions lower.
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