A Soviet era electricity transmission line to power Chernobyl nuclear power plant

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

A well-preserved Belarusian power transmission line from Soviet times is set to immediately restore power to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. 

The news comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Chernobyl nuclear power plant situation with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, as per news agency BelTA.

The agency said that President Lukashenko had instructed the Ministry of Energy to ensure electricity supply to the Chernobyl NPP.

“The Energy Minister was instructed to organise this work in order to immediately supply electricity there. We have a power transmission line from Soviet times; it was preserved. And it must be immediately restored,” the BelTA news agency quoted the head of state as saying.

Lukashenko said that he had sent Belarusian specialists to the Chernobyl NPP to provide power supply to the plant.

Belarusian help is not needed

The national energy company Ukrenergo said it does not need the help of the Belarusian side in repairing the power lines of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant damaged by shelling.

Ukrenergo” does not need the help of the Belarusian side in repairing the high-voltage lines damaged by Russian shelling that fed the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” wrote the company in its Telegram channel.

“We have everything ready to immediately repair the lines and restore the power supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which has been de-energised for more than a day. Just stop the shelling and give access to our repair crews,” the message said.

Fear of sabotage

Russia fears that Ukrainians or mercenaries may take advantage of the situation and harm the plant resulting in radiation. The NPP is under Russian control.

Belarus too has asked the military and border guards to keep an eye on the mercenaries on the territory of Ukraine. As per him, the mercenaries are heading along the Belarusian border towards Chernobyl.

Chernobyl NPP is completely de-energised

The Chernobyl NPP is entirely de-energised, said the system operator NPC Ukrenergo on March 9. 

“Fighting continues, which makes it impossible to repair work and restore power supply,” the Ukrainian energy utility NAEK Energoatom said in a statement.

NAEK Energoatom said that the blackout of all nuclear facilities in the exclusion zone is associated with damage to the 750 kV power transmission line of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant – SS “Kievskaya”, which also led to a blackout in the city of Slavutych. 

“KHOYAT-1 (spent nuclear fuel storage) contains about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies. They need constant cooling, which is possible only if there is electricity. If it is not available, the pumps will not cool. As a result, the temperature in the pools will increase exposure; there will be soaring and release of radioactive substances into the environment. The wind can transfer a radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Europe, said Energoatom statement. 

Due to a blackout, ventilation at the facility would not work, and all personnel would receive a dangerous dose of radiation. “The fire extinguishing system also does not work. This is a huge risk in the event of a fire that can occur as a result of a shell hit. Currently, hostilities continue, which makes it impossible to carry out repairs and resume power supply,” Energoatom said.

“But we can see for ourselves, and their data coincide with ours: the supply of electricity to the Chernobyl station has been cut off. You understand very well that the station itself produces electricity, but it also consumes a lot of electricity in order to work,” Lukashenko told Putin.

NPP workers under stress

Since Russian troops seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on February 24, the situation has been deteriorating, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The head of the agency, Rafael Grossi, said on Tuesday, March 8, that, according to the Ukrainian side, about 210 technicians and local security personnel were on duty at the nuclear power plant continuously for almost two weeks since there was no personnel change under Russian control.

According to the Ukrainian regulator, they receive limited amounts of water, food, and medicine, deteriorating their situation. In addition, the IAEA is no longer in touch with its monitoring equipment, which ensures that all nuclear materials are in place. 

Chernobyl NPP not at risk

Ukraine has already informed the IAEA about the shutdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the loss of external energy supply. 

However, a Ukrainian specialist specified this will not critically affect the safety of people and the situation at the nuclear power plant is calm.

The specialist said that the safe external power supply of all nuclear sites from the network is one of the seven mandatory elements of nuclear safety. At the same time, the IAEA agreed with the Ukrainian side: shutting down the plant will not have a critical impact on the main safety functions. Russian specialists have taken measures to switch the station to backup diesel generator power sources.


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