Ukraine appealed to Russia for a temporary ceasefire on Wednesday to allow repairs to be made to a power line to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It warned there could be a radiation leak that could spread to Russia and Europe if the electricity outage continued.
Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces made it impossible to immediately repair the high-voltage power line to the plant, Reuters reported. It was captured by Russian forces on the first day of the invasion.
There are 100 workers and another 200 Ukrainian guards, who’d been in charge of security at the time of the assault remain trapped there, the BBC reported.
Energoatom said radioactive substances could be released if the plant cannot cool spent nuclear fuel. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said reserve diesel generators can power the plant for only 48 hours.
„After that, cooling systems of the storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will stop, making radiation leaks imminent,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
„I call on the international community to urgently demand Russia to cease fire and allow repair units to restore power supply.”
Energoatom said there were about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies at Chernobyl that could not be kept cool during a power outage, and that their warming could lead to „the release of radioactive substances into the environment.
“The radioactive cloud could be carried by wind to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Europe,” it said in a statement.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, IAEA said the loss of power does not have a critical impact on safety.
On Tuesday, the IAEA had warned that the systems monitoring nuclear material at the radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl had stopped transmitting data.
The still-radioactive site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster stands about 100 kilometers from Kyiv.
Botched safety test
Its fourth reactor exploded in April 1986 during a botched safety test, sending clouds of radiation billowing across much of Europe.