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ZNPP: two years in occupation. It's getting worse

Column of CEO of JSC "NNEGC "Energoatom" Petro Kotin for the online media outlet "Korespondent".

March 4, 2022 is a tragic date on the calendar of russia's war against Ukraine. That night, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe was attacked, shelled and eventually seized by the russian invaders. Will this date be the beginning of the countdown to other events, even more tragic and catastrophic for human history? The probability of that is higher than ever on the second anniversary of the unsanctioned action by the occupiers at the plant.

The article “The Zaporizhzhia NPP: the situation is becoming more dangerous” discussed the negative tendencies in the development of the situation at the ZNPP. It cited factors that have significantly deteriorated safety of the plant recently, in particular:

• the six-year warranty period authorized by the manufacturer to the nuclear fuel utilized in reactors at the ZNPP will be expired soon,

• non-admission of qualified (including licensed) Ukrainian personnel to work and complete termination of their presence at the plant,

• flagrant case of incompetent actions of the occupiers.

Based on the results of the analysis of all the facts (and there are already more than 150 of them for two years of occupation) of violations of normal operating, nuclear and radiation safety conditions, which have already occurred and are occurring daily, the specialists of Energoatom have carried out calculations of the safety indicators of the Zaporizhzhia NPP units. They confirm the steady negative trend of deterioration of the plant safety level as a result of the long-term russian occupation.

Therefore, as a result of the calculations, the current values of the main safety criteria – indicators of the core damage frequency (CDF) and the large release frequency (LRF) will significantly exceed the regulatory norms of both Ukrainian norms and the requirements of the IAEA “Fundamental Safety Principles of Nuclear Power Plants, 75-INSAG -3 Rev.1, INSAG-12”, used worldwide. The results have shown that:

for a cold shutdown of one power unit:

CDF = 2.17 x 10-5 per reactor-year,

LRF = 1.50 x 10-5 per reactor-year;

for hot shutdown:

CDF = 7.07 x 10-5 per reactor-year,

LRF = 6.73 x 10-5 per reactor-year.

At the same time, the calculations included only the facts of equipment failures and nuclear and radiation safety violations, as well as threats verified and confirmed by IAEA experts, in particular:

• deterioration of equipment reliability due to non-compliance with schedules and volumes of maintenance and repairs;

• an increase in the probability of human errors due to the lack of a sufficient number of qualified personnel, the use of unqualified staff from russian nuclear power plants, as well as due to the tense state of personnel related to the occupation of the plant and the town of Energodar;

• the current state of power supply lines of the ZNPP (only one of the planned seven lines is currently in operation), which increases the probability of a complete power outage of the ZNPP due to constant shelling by the occupying forces of the russian federation.

The mentioned calculations have been submitted to the IAEA. There are dry figures, without emotions and human tragedies that caused the seizure and occupation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP. We continue to hope for an objective assessment by the world community of the situation at the ZNPP, all risks, threats and consequences. It is necessary to speak frankly about them, to look for new mechanisms of influence on the aggressor country. And it is not only about sanctions.

We wouldn't very much like to get into a situation where, due to the lack of mechanisms in the world (inability) to punish the aggressor for nuclear terrorism and the crimes he committed at the ZNPP, the real state of things is deliberately ignored, and a blind eye is turned to problems that are difficult or unknown how to solve.

The world public must clearly understand that a nuclear reactor under the control of terrorists is an element of hybrid warfare only at the beginning, but later it is a real dirty nuclear and radiation weapon.

The world should not stand apart and calmly observe russia's nuclear terrorism. The only way to prevent a catastrophe is complete demilitarization and de-occupation of the ZNPP, restoration of full Ukrainian control there in order to ensure nuclear and radiation safety. This is exactly what the first point of the Peace Formula of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi says. I am convinced that this will definitely happen and russia will be responsible for everything.

Glory to Ukraine!