War in Ukraine: What a nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporizhia power plant could look like

War in Ukraine: What a nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporizhia power plant could look like

According to modeling by a Ukrainian institute, a radioactive cloud resulting from a possible nuclear catastrophe in Zaporijia could very quickly spread to Europe. Which of course is reminiscent of Chernobyl.

The situation at the Zaporijia nuclear power plant southeast of Kyiv, which has been under threat since the Russian invasion began in February, is causing growing concern in Ukraine and internationally. During a phone conversation with Emmanuel Macron on Friday, Vladimir Putin agreed that the facility would soon be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Several international personalities have already spoken out in favor of this mission in Zaporijjia, in particular NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

And the inspection is considered an emergency: in the event of a disaster, a possible radioactive cloud could spread to Europe.

Only three days to reach Poland

This radioactive plume, modeled by a Ukrainian hydrometeorology institute, would move rapidly from the facility beyond Ukraine’s borders through Europe. According to these forecasts, it would only take three days to reach Poland or the Baltic countries.

A possible radioactive cloud could spread very quickly from Zaporijjia to Europe in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. A possible radioactive cloud could spread very quickly from Zaporijjia to Europe in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. © BFM TV

“The risk is the fallout of radioactive materials onto the ground. Depending on their radiotoxicity, they can end up in food,” explains Emmanuelle Galichet, Head of Nuclear Science and Technology Education at Cnam.

A possibility all the more worrying given that this situation was observed at Chernobyl several decades ago.

However, the situation is different from Chernobyl

However, Emmanuelle Galichet reminds us that the two facilities are not identical and that the particle levels modeled are much lower than at Chernobyl.

“In Zaporijia you have a dome that protects the environment and the population from this possibility of an explosion and a radioactive cloud, which Chernobyl didn’t have,” she explains.

“Any radioactive accident at the Zaporizhia power plant can affect the countries of the European Union: Turkey, Georgia and more distant regions. It all depends on the direction and strength of the wind,” he said. in turn, warned Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose government has decided to organize drills in the event of a nuclear disaster.