Update on Ukraine

April 29, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, thanks IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi for the agency’s support, including its April 26 mission to Chernobyl. (Photo: IAEA)

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, led a mission to Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant this week to address ongoing radiological safety concerns at the shuttered site following five weeks (February 24–March 31) of Russian military occupation.

A reactor physicist explains Chernobyl

April 28, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screen shot from the ANS webinar, “A Reactor Physicist’s Explanation of Chernobyl,” featuring Christopher Perfetti (inset). (Source: ANS)

On the 36th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the American Nuclear Society held the webinar, “A Reactor Physicist’s Explanation of Chernobyl,” led by Christopher Perfetti, an assistant professor in the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico. (Here we use the more common Russian spelling of Chernobyl, rather than the Ukrainian spelling, Chornobyl.)

Online fundraising event for Ukraine to be held April 27–28

April 26, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

An open online event titled “Challenges of Ukraine’s nuclear energy in wartime” will be held on April 27 and 28. The event is sponsored by the International Conference on Nuclear Decommissioning and Environmental Recovery (INUDECO). Organizers include the Slavutych (Ukraine) City Council, the Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Nuclear Society.

Register now. There is no fee for registration. However, funds raised from participants will be donated for humanitarian purposes. Fundraising is open now.

Europe is showing renewed interest in nuclear energy “despite danger,” says the Washington Post

April 26, 2022, 7:06AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The war in Ukraine has intensified interest across Europe in building new nuclear energy plants or extending the lives of old ones to liberate the continent from its heavy reliance on Russian oil and natural gas,” Washington Post reporters Steven Mufson and Claire Parker write in their recent article, before describing what they view as the potential dangers of nuclear energy. They also quote the American Nuclear Society in regard to the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine.

ANS to host virtual event, “A Reactor Physicist’s Explanation of Chernobyl”

April 21, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

The ANS Reactor Physics Division is hosting a webinar titled “A Reactor Physicist’s Explanation of Chernobyl” from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Tuesday, April 26, the 36th anniversary of the accident at the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

Register Now. The webinar is exclusively for ANS members.

Update on Ukraine

April 1, 2022, 3:20PMNuclear News
The New Safe Confinement structure over the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Photo from 2018.

Ukraine’s nuclear operator, Energoatom, announced yesterday that the Russian military has withdrawn from the Chernobyl plant and surrounding area. “According to the staff of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are now no outsiders on-site,” Energoatom stated in an online post. Russian forces took control of Chernobyl on February 24, day one of the invasion.

In a separate post, the company said that the Russians had formally agreed to return the responsibility for Chernobyl to Ukraine. It shared a scan of a document, with the heading “Act of acceptance and transfer of protection of the Chernobyl nuclear plant,” purportedly signed by a representative of Russia’s National Guard, a representative of Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, and a Chernobyl plant shift manager.

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.

Update on Ukraine

March 25, 2022, 7:10AMNuclear News

International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Wednesday that he remains “gravely concerned” about Ukraine’s nuclear sites amid the ongoing Russian invasion and stressed the urgency of reaching an agreement on a framework that would enable his agency to provide technical assistance to ensure the safe and secure operation of those facilities.

Update on Ukraine

March 18, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) informed the International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday that all safety systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine were fully functional, one day after the site lost connection to a third external power line linking it to the national electricity grid.

Off-site power restored at Chernobyl — before power lines damaged again

March 14, 2022, 8:37AMPress Releases
Energoatom, photo of Rovno (Rivne) NPP. Rivne NPP | Energoatom

External power supplies were restored to the decommissioning Chernobyl facility following repairs of damaged power lines — before being reportedly damaged again, according to Ukraine's transmission system operator Ukrenergo.

Grossi returns from talks with Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers in Turkey

March 11, 2022, 9:13AMNuclear News
At the press conference, Grossi explained that the IAEA has stopped receiving safeguards information from certain monitoring systems installed at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, as indicated by the red dots.

IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi traveled to Antalya, Turkey, on March 10 to meet with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear facilities. After returning to Vienna, Grossi held a press conference at which he said that a “common denominator” had emerged from the discussions and that both sides agree that something needs to be done. “They are both ready to work and to engage with the IAEA,” he said. “So this is a very important building block.”

Philippines to embark on nuclear energy program

March 9, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

Some 19 months after ordering a study to determine the feasibility of introducing nuclear energy into the Philippines’ power generation mix, President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the adoption of a “national position for a nuclear energy program” to address the country’s projected phaseout of coal-fired plants. (The Philippines participated in last November’s COP26 conference, where it affirmed its commitment “to shift away from the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel.”)

Update on Ukraine

March 4, 2022, 9:28AMNuclear News
Energoatom’s Zaporizhzhia plant, in southeastern Ukraine. (Photo: Energoatom)

Latest on Zaporizhzhia: As of this morning, Russian military forces have taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The Russian military began shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, resulting in a fire at the site on Thursday.

Ukrainian nuclear plants are “ready for safe operation,” Energoatom chief says

February 24, 2022, 9:48AMUpdated February 24, 2022, 3:10PMNuclear News
A map of Ukraine and the nuclear sites around the country.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine today in what news sources are calling the largest military attack of one state against another on the European continent since World War II. These developing events follow an extraordinary meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels on February 22, when NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia’s recent actions constituted “serious escalation” of tensions in the region and that Russia had shifted from covert attempts to destabilize Ukraine to overt military action. Well before this juncture was reached, news outlets had questioned the readiness of Ukraine’s nuclear power fleet to operate safely in a country at war and ensure energy security, while Energoatom, which operates all of Ukraine’s nuclear power reactors, has issued assurances of safety and security.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News April through June

January 7, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

This is the third of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the April-June time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

Unit 1 at Kursk plant is retired

December 22, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Reactor operators in the control room at Kursk I-1, as the unit is powered down for good. (Photo: Rosenergoatom)

After 45 years of producing electricity, the first unit at Russia’s Kursk nuclear power plant has been retired, plant operator Rosenergoatom announced on Monday. Kursk I-1, one of the facility’s four 925-MWe light water–cooled graphite-moderated reactors, model RBMK-1000 (a Chernobyl-type reactor), was permanently shut down at 00:24 Moscow time on December 19.

The man held responsible for the Chernobyl accident has died

November 2, 2021, 3:41PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Bryukhanov

Viktor Bryukhanov, the man blamed for the Chernobyl disaster, has died at age 85.

Bryukhanov was in charge of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine when the devastating accident occurred in 1986. Afterward, he was held responsible and was imprisoned.

Bryukhanov's death, on October 13 in Kiev, Ukraine, was announced by a representative of the now-closed nuclear plant, according to a report in the New York Times. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, in addition to having had several strokes following his retirement in 2015.

The sentencing: In 1987, Bryukhanov was found guilty of gross violation of safety regulations, creating conditions that led to the steam explosion that released a radioactive dust cloud into the atmosphere. Reports also mentioned that he failed to ensure correct and firm leadership in the difficult conditions of the accident and displayed irresponsibility and inability to organize. He was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp along with a five-year sentence for abuse of power, which ran concurrently.

Radiation-mapping robots deployed at Chernobyl

October 13, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Inside the New Safe Confinement covering the sarcophagus of Chernobyl’s Unit 4. (Photo: SSE Chornobyl NPP)

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol were given access to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, advancing a project to train robots and artificial intelligence systems to measure radiation and create 3D maps.

A slideshow of the team’s visit to Chernobyl’s Unit 4 control room and New Safe Confinement structure, where they deployed radiation mapping and scanning sensors, including a LIDAR-equipped robot call Rooster, appears on Gizmodo.