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Ecorubic 14:07 10 Aug 2022

Nuclear danger: what will happen to the Zaporizhzhia region and Dnipro and how to protect yourself in the event of a disaster at the ZNPP

We will tell you what to do in case of a nuclear accident.

What is the problem?

The russians are blackmailing the Ukrainians with a nuclear catastrophe

On August 5 and 6, the russian military once again shelled the Zaporizhzhia NPP. The enemy hit the 330 kV high-voltage communication line of the Zaporizhzhya NPP autotransformer. Also, "arrivals" were recorded right on the station's site, near one of the nuclear reactor's power units. The russists seriously damaged the nitrogen-oxygen station and the combined auxiliary building. Emergency protection was activated at one of the power units, and diesel generators were switched on. This unit is currently disconnected from the power grid.

The russian occupiers are using the captured Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant near Energodar for nuclear blackmail. They openly declare that they mined "all important objects of the Zaporizhzhia NPP." Andriy Yusov, the representative of the press service of the Chief Directorate of Intelligence, also reported confirmed information about Russian troops' mining of power units at the NPP.

The situation is exacerbated by the Russians' crazy threats to provoke a nuclear catastrophe:

"It will be either russian land or a scorched desert here" or "The station will be either russian or nobody's" — such statements are heard from the still alive russist general Vasiliev, who, we hope, is going to be commanding the russian "operation" at the ZNPP not so long.

ZNPP mining

Запорізька АЕС: що відбувається та які загрози — обстріли, пошкодження і заяви про мінування

The Insider media outlet, citing its own sources, claims that russian troops mined the premises of the first power unit of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and are probably using it to store ammunition and base soldiers. According to the information provided by the outlet, about 500 russian soldiers, as well as armored personnel carriers and anti-aircraft guns, are on the NPP's territory.

Another source reported that russian forces "store mines and ammunition in the immediate vicinity of power units, under overpasses, and part of the ammunition is stored inside the power unit." At the same time, this source is not sure "whether the power unit was mined or simply used to store explosives."

The Insider also reported that russian forces had installed Grad missile batteries near the village of Vodiane, about 4 km from the NPP reactors and about 2 km from the plant's spent fuel storage units. As a result, in mid-July and on July 5 and 6, Ukrainian channels and officials reported that russian forces were shelling Nikopol, a Ukrainian city across the river from the NPP, from behind the Zaporizhzhia NPP nuclear reactors.

The Board of the State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine warns: that the placement of a military arsenal on the ZNPP site in the event of its direct use or detonation may lead to damage to systems and elements crucial for the safety of ZNPP nuclear installations.

"Therefore, depending on the specifics of the operating state of the nuclear installation and the nature of the damage, in the most unfavorable case, severe damage to the nuclear fuel may occur within a few hours, with subsequent radiation pollution of the environment and radiation exposure of personnel and the population," Energoatom reports.

And what will happen in case of an accident?

Запорізька АЕС: що відбувається та які загрози — обстріли, пошкодження і заяви про мінування

The accident at the nuclear power plant, with which the russians are blackmailing the Ukrainians, can be caused by a fire, an explosion, or damage by shells, bombs, or missiles. There are other risks: the presence of the russian military at the site of the nuclear power plant and their unpredictable actions may make it impossible for the personnel to perform their direct functions of managing the power units, hinder the application of additional technical means introduced at the power units of the ZNPP taking into account the experience of the accident at the Fukushima NPP, and hinder Ukraine's emergency response units for extinguishing fires and responding to other possible accidents.

In addition, the actions of the russian military may lead to the impossibility of protecting personnel and the population of the temporarily occupied territory in the vicinity of the ZNPP in the event of a nuclear/radiation accident, etc.

In the worst-case scenario, a global catastrophe awaits us. Nuclear energy expert Ludvig Lytvynskyi said:

"Regarding the level of danger – it can be different. A serious danger can arise if a nuclear installation is hit – a nuclear disaster is possible, as in Chornobyl or Fukushima. Before that, there can be local radiation accidents. The russians are well aware of what they are doing. They are simply putting pressure on us and blackmailing us and the whole world. They have no intention of causing a serious radiation accident. They intend to increase this pressure with every step," he said.

For example, to assess the disaster's possible consequences at the ZNPP, experts were guided by the consequences of the 1986 accident at the Chornobyl NPP:

"There were 2,200 fuel assemblies at the 4th reactor of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, at the ZNPP six reactors, and the storage of spent nuclear fuel containing up to 18,000 fuel assemblies (9-10 times more). That is, the consequences of the accident at the ZNPP may be ten times stronger than in 1986 at the Chornobyl NPP," wrote Lala Tarapakina, adviser to the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources.

In the event of a disaster, the area of ​​the potential exclusion zone will be up to 30,000 km² (like 10 Chornobyl exclusion zones), and the Zaporizhzhia region will actually be lost for living and farming. At the same time, the area of ​​potentially contaminated territory will be up to 2 million km², and the degree of contamination of other regions of Ukraine and Europe, russia, and Belarus will depend on the wind.

"The number of liquidators can be from 1 million people, and the victims — tens of thousands, depending on the current number of people on the territory of Zaporizhzhia region, the number of evacuated/displaced people – from 2 million people. The Dnipro River will also be polluted for an immeasurable number of years. An accident can cause the release of radioactive cesium-137 in quantities dangerous to human health, soil, and water bodies. The main part of the emissions will fall on Ukraine, but the EU, Belarus, and russia will also be affected," Tarapakina comments on the situation.

Concerned and worried

Zelensky condemned the alleged russian shelling as an "open, brazen crime" and "an act of terrorism." He called on the international community to recognize russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and to impose sanctions against the russian nuclear industry.

The narrative of the international community, even after such nuclear blackmail, remains well known to us. Thus, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Raphael Grossi, as always, expressed grave concern over the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which occurred the day before, and stated that this action highlights the risk of a nuclear disaster.

What is the solution?

Hopefully, it is just blackmailing

The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has already concluded that russian forces are likely using the NPP to play on Western fears of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine in an attempt to reduce Western willingness to provide military support to a Ukrainian counteroffensive and to effectively use the NPP as nuclear weapons and shields to prevent Ukrainian attacks on russian forces and equipment.

Запорізька АЕС: що відбувається та які загрози — обстріли, пошкодження і заяви про мінування

Don't panic!

The Collegium of the State Inspection of Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine reassures that communication with the station personnel is constantly maintained, and information on the power units' parameters and modes of operation is updated and made public daily. It is possible thanks to remote control and radiation monitoring systems with the provision of data transmission to the IAEA IRMIS system.

Operational personnel of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continues to work and monitor the state of safety of the power units, and personnel rotation takes place permanently. At the same time, no changes in the radiation status at the site of the ZNPP, in the sanitary protection zone, and the observation zone were recorded.

What about other plants?

Despite the war, the other four nuclear power plants are working normally. As of the morning of August 10, the radiation background at the industrial sites of the South Ukrainian, Khmelnytskyi, and Rivne NPPs is at the level of natural background values ​​measured before the NPP started. Emissions and discharges of radioactive substances into the environment do not exceed the established permissible values.

Just in case: everyone should know the safety rules!

Запорізька АЕС: що відбувається та які загрози — обстріли, пошкодження і заяви про мінування

The Ministry of Health noted that every Ukrainian should know the basic rules of behavior in the event of an emergency of any nature, particularly in the event of a radiation accident.

In the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant, the following should be done:

Stay indoors or go inside urgently. Radioactive dust settles on the outside of buildings, so it's best to stay as far away from building walls and roofs as possible. It is safest to stay in the basement or inside the building.

  • stay in a room without windows or doors
  • close windows and doors
  • seal the holes with improvised means (scotch tape, water-soaked cloth, etc.)
  • turn off ventilation systems (air conditioners or heaters) in your home.

If you have pets, keep them close and not let them outside.

How to act in the shelter?

  • As soon as you get to the shelter, if possible, carefully remove the clothes you were wearing, and change clothes – there is a risk of radiation contamination.
  • Also, if possible, wash exposed skin with soap and water, and treat and wash wounds thoroughly if you have them.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or respirator until the radioactive cloud dissipates. Turn off ventilation and tightly close all doors; close the gaps near windows and doors with a wet cloth.
  • Listen to the radio and do not go outside until the authorities give the signal. After that, open the windows to ensure air circulation.
  • Eat only food from sealed containers and drink only bottled water that has been sealed.
  • Don't forget the pets, and remember: regardless of your social status, everyone is equal in this situation.

It is necessary to remain in shelter until the official authorities give other instructions. Wait for messages from the State Emergency Service, the police, and local authorities and use verified sources of information.

What to do after exiting the shelter?

 

Since nuclear weapons have different energy potentials, it is impossible to answer the question "when" unequivocally. It all depends on the bomb's power, the wind's direction, and your distance from the explosion's epicenter. That is why it is so important to have a means of communication with you so that you know when the competent authorities will announce that you can leave the shelter.

You can find out for yourself how safe it is outside the shelter if you have a dosimeter. A radiation level of approximately 0.5 microsieverts per hour (up to 50 micro roentgen per hour) is considered safe, and the safest is up to 0.2 microsieverts per hour (corresponds to values ​​of up to 20 micro roentgen per hour).

Remember:

The closer the destruction, the higher the radiation danger.

Protect yourself. Hardly anyone keeps a gas mask at home, but if there is one, it is better to use it. If there is no gas mask, you should wear tight clothes with a hood and glasses that protect the eyes from alpha and beta radiation. Try to wear clothes with long sleeves.

Remember that there may still be radioactive dust in the air and on surfaces: try not to walk on dirt roads, choose asphalt ones. Keep street clothes and shoes away from the place of sleep: radioactive dust, just like ordinary dust, accumulates on the collar, hair, elbows, shoulders, and stomach.

Greens and salads from open beds are dangerous. After washing, you can use such products only from greenhouses covered with glass or polycarbonate. You cannot collect and eat mushrooms and berries with radiation; they are natural "accumulators" of radionuclides and heavy metals.

When should potassium iodide (KI) be taken?

KI works by filling a person's thyroid gland with stable iodine. In contrast, the harmful radioactive iodine from the discharge is not absorbed, thereby reducing the risk of developing thyroid cancer in the future. KI is prescribed only in cases of exposure to radioactive iodine in the environment and protects only the thyroid gland. A single dose of KI (potassium iodide) protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. To protect the thyroid gland, as a rule, a single dose in the prescribed sizes is quite sufficient. In some cases, people can be exposed to radioactive iodine for more than a day. If this happens, health or emergency personnel may advise you to take one dose of KI (potassium iodide) every 24 hours for several days:

People aged 2 years and over: 125 mg (half a tablet).

Children under 2 years of age: 40 mg (1/6 tablet).

Children younger than 5 years old cannot take iodine internally. In this case, the necessary dosage of iodine should be diluted with water and applied to different areas of the skin with an iodine net.

Children aged 2 to 5 years: 20 drops.

Children younger than 2 years: 10 drops.

Do not take potassium iodide (KI) or give it to others unless your health department, emergency responders, or your doctor recommends it.

Side effects of KI (potassium iodide) may include stomach or gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, rash, and inflammation of the salivary glands. When taken as directed, potassium iodide may occasionally cause adverse health effects related to the thyroid gland. These rare side effects are more likely if a person:

takes a higher than the recommended dose of KI,

takes the drug for several days in a row,

already has thyroid disease.

Read more recommendations here.

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