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.
The electric power transmission grid of the U.S. consists of thousands of miles of lines operated by hundreds of companies.
To do big things, like building the interstate highway system, or going to the moon, government usually has a plan. Electric companies and grid operators, which are responsible for keeping the lights on, always have a plan. But something unusual has happened in the past few months. About four dozen U.S. utilities, plus the federal government and many states, have promised to do something extremely big: to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, or cut them drastically. But they are not clear on how.