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Chernobyl plant disconnected from the power grid. Here’s what that means

What happened at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine?

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A Soviet-era top secret object Duga behind a radioactivity sign in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

A Soviet-era top secret object Duga, an over-the-horizon radar system once used as part of the Soviet missile defense early-warning radar network, seen behind a radioactivity sign in Chernobyl, Ukraine, on Nov. 22, 2018.

Efrem Lukatsky, Associated Press

The Chernobyl plant in Ukraine was disconnected from the power grid, raising concerns that a nuclear leak could occur in the next 48 hours.

What happened: “Because of military actions of Russian occupiers the nuclear power plant in Chornobyl was fully disconnected from the power grid. The nuclear station has no power supply,” said Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo in a statement.

Why it matters: Electricity is needed to cool, ventilate and enflame the extinguishing system at Chernobyl, warding off any nuclear leaks, per The Washington Post.

  • In a worst-case scenario, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said that the lack of power could lead to a leak that would send a “radioactive cloud” across Europe, per The Daily Beast.

Yes, but: The International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday morning that it saw “no critical impact on safety.”

  • The “heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply,” the IAEA said in a tweet.


What’s next: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for a ceasefire with Russia so that Ukraine could repair the nuclear plant.

  • “The only electrical grid supplying the Chornobyl NPP and all its nuclear facilities occupied by Russian army is damaged,” he tweeted. “I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.”