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5th March 2022 (6 Topics)

Russia-Ukraine conflict: Nuclear plant fire raises contamination scare


Russian troops seized the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.


About Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plants:

  • Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear energy.
  • In 2020, the 4 plants generated 13,107 GWe power, the third-largest in Europe after Russia and France.
  • Ukraine operates 15 nuclear reactors that generate around 54 per cent of the country's electricity needs.
  • Ukraine has four nuclear plants, and all 15 “water-water energy reactors”, or VVER, are located in these plants.
    • VVERs are water cooled and water moderated. 
  • As many as 12 of the reactors were developed in the 1980s, while one came up in 1995 and the last two in 2004.
  • The four plants are the Rivne plant in northwest Ukraine near the Belarus border, the Khmelnytskyi plant located around 180 km (110 miles) southeast of the Rivne site, the South Ukraine plant near Odessa, and the Zaporizhzhia plant.

About Chernobyl nuclear plant:

  • The Chernobyl nuclear plant, located around 108 km north of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
  • It had four reactors, and one of them exploded in 1986, spreading radiation across Europe.
  • It is now defunct, but the site is still considered radioactive.
  • Russian forces seized the area on February 24, the first day of the invasion.

About Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant:

  • The 6GW Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, located in Energodar, Ukraine, is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.
  • Zaporizhzhya is one of the four operating NPPs in the country and generates up to 42 billion kWh of electricity, accounting for about 40% of the total electricity generated by all the Ukrainian NPPs and one-fifth of Ukraine’s annual electricity production.
  • The Zaporizhzhya NPP consists of six pressurised water reactor (PWR) units commissioned between 1984 and 1995, with a gross electrical capacity of 1,000MW each.
  • The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power facility is situated on a 104.7ha site on the banks of the Kakhovka reservoir.
    • The Steppe zone of Ukraine was selected because of available infrastructure at the nearby Zaporozhe Thermal Power Plant, land unsuitable for agriculture and its distance from foreign territories.

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