Ukraine war latest: Chernobyl radiation leak risk increases after power cut, warns Kyiv

Ukraine warned that the risk of a radiation leak from the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant had risen after its electricity supply was cut off.

“The only electrical grid supplying the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and all its nuclear facilities occupied by the Russian army is damaged [with the plant losing] all electric supply,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said in a tweet on Wednesday.

He called on the international community to demand a ceasefire from Russia to allow repair units to restore power supply.

Kuleba said that, while reserve diesel generators have a 48-hour capacity to power the Chernobyl plant, “after that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent”.

“Putin’s barbaric war puts . . . Europe in danger,” Kuleba added in his tweet. “He must stop it immediately.”

In the wake of the invasion, Russian army convoys, seeking to capture Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, rolled into the Chernobyl exclusion zone, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.

Russian forces have sparked international concern in past weeks by taking control of Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe and one of four active atomic power stations in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom on Wednesday sounded the alarm about a potential radioactive leak from Chernobyl saying “damage by the occupiers” knocked out electricity at the decommissioned nuclear power station.

“About 20,000 spent fuel assemblies are stored at the spent nuclear fuel storage facility — 1. They need constant cooling. Which is possible only if there is electricity,” Energoatom said in a statement.

“If it is not there, the pumps will not cool. As a result, the temperature in the holding pools will increase” and will release radioactive substances into the environment.

“The wind can transfer the radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe,” Energoatom added.