Ukraine is considering shutting down the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant due to the deteriorating security situation, said Oleh Korikov, the chief state inspector for nuclear and radiation safety of Ukraine.
If conditions requiring the plant to be shut down arise, the plant and power unit No. 6 will be shut down,” Korikov said on Wednesday.
Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power station in Europe.
“The continued deterioration of the situation, the prolonged lack of power supply from an external source of electricity will force us to deploy standby diesel generators, and it is extremely difficult to top up the diesel fuel supply during the war,” Korikov added.
Korikov said maintaining the diesel generators running would not be sustainable.
For context: In an interview last month, Energoatom CEO Petro Kotin explained why diesel generators are not a sustainable alternative.
Diesel generators are backups to cool fuel and keep things operational, but there are caveats to using them for an indefinite time and it’s a “dangerous” situation to be in, he explained.
“Reliability questions could be an issue … because in this case, they could be required to work for an indefinite time, and they have limited capacity to constantly be in work mode,” Kotin added.
Korikov’s concerns are along the same lines as tensions continue at the plant.
“Four huge diesel fuel tanks are needed per day,” Korikov explained. “Potentially, we can find ourselves in a situation with no diesel fuel; it can give rise to an accident, damaging the active zone of reactors and releasing radioactive products into the environment. It will not only affect the territory of Ukraine but also produce cross-border effects.”
Currently, the plant “generates electricity and supplies it for its own needs” through an exceptional process called islanding where the plant — although disconnected from a power grid — uses its own energy to power cooling systems, according to Korikov.