Wars are dangerous, reactors much less so

March 30, 2022, 11:55AMANS Nuclear CafeJacopo Buongiorno, Steven Nesbit, Malcolm Grimston, Lake Barrett, Matthew L. Wald, and Andrew Whittaker
The six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

On March 4, Russian forces set fire to an office building at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, raising fears about reactors being damaged. The attack stirred up memories of the Chernobyl accident in 1986, a reaction that longtime nuclear opponents are taking advantage of to rekindle their cause. However, the reactors operating in Ukraine today are profoundly different from the design used at Chernobyl, and are, by nature, difficult to damage.

Let’s set the record straight and explain the risks of nuclear power plants in war zones.

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