At Ukraine’s Embattled Nuke: A LOCA is not La Vida

March 4, 2022

Interview with physicist Michio Kaku as panic erupted over Russian shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power station. He explains what a LOCA is.

Subsequent news has been somewhat reassuring, but jeez, people.


Russian invasion forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant on Friday in heavy fighting in southeastern Ukraine, triggering global alarm, but a huge blaze in a training building has been extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe.

The fire at a training building at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant sent global stock markets plunging.

Although the plant was now said to be safe and the fire out, officials remained worried about the precarious circumstances, with Ukrainian staff operating under Russian control in battlefield conditions beyond the reach of administrators.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Raphael Grossi described the situation as “normal operations, but in fact there is nothing normal about this”.

He paid homage to the plant’s Ukrainian staff: “to their bravery, to their courage, to their resilience because they are doing this in very difficult circumstances.”

Grossi said the plant was undamaged from what he believed was a Russian projectile. Only one reactor was working, at around 60% of capacity. He was trying to contact Russian and Ukrainian officials to sort out political responsibility.

An official at Energoatom, the Ukrainian state nuclear plant operator, said there was no further fighting and radiation was normal, but his organisation no longer had contact with the plant’s management or control over potentially dangerous nuclear material.

“Personnel are on their working places providing normal operation of the station,” the official told Reuters.

Russia’s defence ministry also said the plant was working normally. It blamed the fire on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs and said its forces were in control.

A video from the plant verified by Reuters showed one building aflame and a volley of incoming shells before a large incandescent ball lit up the sky, exploding beside a car park and sending smoke billowing across the compound.


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