Ukraine

Ukraine Warns of Radiation Leak at Occupied Chernobyl Site After Power Supply Cut

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said there are about 20,000 spent fuels in the storage facility that need constant cooling, "which is possible only in the presence of electricity"

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Ukrainian authorities say the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, has been knocked off the power grid. Emergency generators are now supplying backup power.

The state communications agency says the outage could put systems for cooling nuclear material at risk.

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Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said there are about 20,000 spent fuels in the storage facility that need constant cooling, "which is possible only in the presence of electricity."

"If it is not there, the pumps will not perform cooling, which will increase the temperature in the holding pools," Energoatom said in a statement. "There will be steaming and release of radioactive substances into the environment." 

The cause of the damage to the power line serving Chernobyl was not immediately clear, but it comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The site has been under control of Russian troops since last week.

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenerho said that according to the national nuclear regulator, all Chernobyl facilities are without power and the diesel generators have fuel for 48 hours. Without power the “parameters of nuclear and radiation safety” cannot be controlled, it said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the grid supplying electricity is damaged and called for a cease-fire to allow for repairs.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it sees “no critical impact on safety” from the power cut at the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

The Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog said Wednesday that Ukraine had informed it of the loss of electricity and that the development violates a “key safety pillar on ensuring uninterrupted power supply.” But it tweeted that “in this case IAEA sees no critical impact on safety.”

The IAEA said that there could be “effective heat removal without need for electrical supply” from spent nuclear fuel at the site.

This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the crisis in Ukraine.

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