Ukraine Fighting Could Lead to Reactor Meltdown: U.S. Analyst

Armed men wearing military fatigues on Wednesday gather near armored vehicles as they guard a regional state building seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. A former U.S. government analyst said a broader Russian invasion of Ukraine could disrupt operations at nuclear reactors.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
April 16, 2014, 10:06 a.m.

A former U.S. gov­ern­ment policy ana­lyst is warn­ing a mil­it­ary con­flict in Ukraine could af­fect the elec­tric grid and en­danger the na­tion’s nuc­le­ar re­act­ors.

Ukraine op­er­ates 15 atom­ic en­ergy re­act­ors at four dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions. Those nuc­le­ar sites rely on out­side elec­tri­city to main­tain their cool­ing pumps, which pre­vent a re­act­or melt­down from oc­cur­ring.

In the event that Rus­sia at­tacks Ukraine, “fight­ing could dis­rupt” the nearby power plants or elec­tric­al grids that send elec­tri­city to the re­act­ors, wrote Ben­nett Ram­berg in a com­ment­ary ap­pear­ing in the Daily Star news­pa­per on Wed­nes­day.

Without elec­tri­city to op­er­ate the re­act­ors’ cool­ing sys­tems, there is a risk of nuc­le­ar melt­down oc­cur­ring, as was the case in the 2011 Fukushi­ma Daii­chi power plant crisis in Ja­pan.

Nuc­le­ar power sites main­tain emer­gency backup elec­tri­city gen­er­at­ors. However, they rely on dies­el fuel to op­er­ate, which is typ­ic­ally trucked in from out­side.

Fight­ing between Ukrain­i­an and Rus­si­an-backed forces could pre­vent dies­el-fuel ship­ments from reach­ing the gen­er­at­ors, which would shorten the amount of time they could provide aux­il­i­ary power to the re­act­or cool­ing pumps, said Ram­berg, who served at the State De­part­ment dur­ing the George H.W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

There is also the chance that re­act­or per­son­nel might flee their sta­tions if armed con­flict flares close to the sites, he poin­ted out. Ad­di­tion­ally, “com­batants could in­vade nuc­le­ar plants and threaten sab­ot­age by re­leas­ing ra­dio­act­ive ele­ments to in­tim­id­ate op­pon­ents,” Ram­berg said.

In any of these scen­ari­os, “ser­i­ous ra­di­olo­gic­al con­tam­in­a­tion” could oc­cur that might even dwarf the harm caused at Fukushi­ma and Chernobyl, Ram­berg con­ten­ded.

“War­time con­di­tions would pre­vent emer­gency crews from get­ting to an af­fected plant to con­tain ra­di­olo­gic­al re­leases” and “ci­vil­ians at­tempt­ing to es­cape ra­dio­act­ive con­tam­in­a­tion would not know what to do” in the event of an in­ter­rup­tion in gov­ern­ment ser­vices, he said.

Mo­scow last month an­nexed Ukraine’s Crimean Pen­in­sula and is widely sus­pec­ted to be be­hind pro-Rus­si­an mil­it­ant activ­ity else­where in the east­ern part of the coun­try.

Ram­berg re­com­men­ded that per­son­nel at Ukrain­i­an nuc­le­ar sites build up sup­plies of dies­el fuel and per­form ex­tra checks on their backup gen­er­at­ors to con­firm they are in good work­ing or­der.

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
4 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
6 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
6 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×