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HPS Monitoring Situation in Ukraine

The Health Physics Society (HPS) continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine with concern for the safety of civilians and for the nation's nuclear power stations.

HPS is the home for specialists in radiation safety. Our "Ask the Experts" website has received an influx of questions from around the world regarding nuclear accidents.

Please monitor for updates regarding the nuclear or radiological conditions in Ukraine and for general questions and answers regarding radiation.


Questions and Answers on Nuclear Power Plant Situation at Chernobyl

  • Are there still operating reactors there?

No, Chernobyl no longer has operating reactors, and they are in various stages of being decommissioned.

  • What happens if a shell hits the reactor/containment structure?

It is unlikely a stray conventional rocket or bomb would create anything greater than a localized increase in radiation levels.

  • Will explosions/vehicle traffic/grenades/people running around and shooting/etc. throw enough radioactivity into the air to cause health problems?

Any explosions or traffic could temporarily put small amounts of radioactivity into the air, and this seems to be the present case. This would be of short duration, and would be very unlikely to result in health problems, even in the immediate vicinity.

  • Are the soldiers fighting there at risk from the radiation?

No. Radiation should be a distant concern from the other intense horrors of war. Scientists and other researchers routinely go into the Exclusion Zone to examine wildlife and the environment. The site has also been opened for tourist visits.

  • What are the risks from the loss of electric power at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant?

Electrical power is a necessity at operating nuclear power plants. It is also needed for normal operations at Chernobyl, but the loss of power is unlikely to result in any releases of radioactive material. More specifically, concerns have been raised about the spent fuel pools on-site. According to the IAEA, the volume of cooling water in the pool is sufficient to maintain effective heat removal from the spent fuel without a supply of electricity. The site also has reserve emergency power supplies with diesel generators and batteries.

Fires/Shelling at Nuclear Power Plants

  • Are there operating reactors at Zaporizhhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)?

Yes. There are 6 units at the Zaporizhhzhya NPP. Per the IAEA, of the plant's reactor units, Unit 1 is shut down for maintenance, Units 2 and 3 have undergone a controlled shutdown, Unit 4 is operating at 60% power, and Units 5 and 6 are being held "in reserve" in low-power mode.

  • Did the fire at Zaporizhhzhya NPP cause a release of radiation?

According to the American Nuclear Society, a Russian projectile hit a training building several hundred meters away from the nearest reactor and ignited a fire that was extinguished by the on-site fire brigade. Damage assessments are continuing, but at this time the plant remains operational and there is no evidence that the fighting has physically impacted safety equipment.

  • Are the plant operators still at the site?

According to the IAEA, the nuclear power plant continues to be operated by its regular staff and there has been no release of radioactive material.


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