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Chernobyl runs out of electricity: what is the risk for the plant’s fuel?

The high voltage line that supplies the Chernobyl nuclear complex has been damaged and has left the facility without electricity. This situation means that the cooling of the fuel at the plant – whose last reactor closed in 2000 despite the 1986 accident – is put at risk.

Without electricity, the cooling of these fuel remains depends on emergency diesel systems. However, the Ukrainian authorities assure that these warehouses only have the capacity to operate for about 48 hours. After that time, the fuel would stop cooling.

However, this process is not immediate. In fact, it could be quite slow in a facility whose fuel has been refrigerated for more than two decades, so its temperature is not as high nor can it cause evaporation at the same rate as freshly used fuel.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was seized by the Russians on the first day of the invasion of Ukraine, and fighting in the area north of Kiev has ultimately affected the power line that supplies it. Ukraine demands a ceasefire to allow the line to be repaired. In addition, the workers of the captured complex have been without rotation for 13 days.

The conflict around nuclear power plants has been a constant since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Last week there were fighting at the Zaporizhia plant, the largest in Europe, with six active nuclear reactors.

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