Effects of a nuclear incident in Ukraine could reach the Czech Republic

As fighting continues around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, meteorologists have created a map of potential radioactive fallout.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 20.08.2022 15:38:00 (updated on 22.08.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The effects from a nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine would reach the Czech Republic, according to a model of a potential radioactive fallout released by the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute on social media.

Concerns over a potential incident at the plant were renewed this week as fighting continues at the area. The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is the largest in Europe, and has remained under Russian control since March.

While the most dangerous impact of an incident at the plant would affect those in the immediate area of Ukraine's Donbass region, fallout could be felt around much of Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, according to Ukraine's Hydrometeorological Institute. The Institute used weather data from August 15-18 to simulate potential effects of an explosion at the plant.

"According to the results of the calculations during August 15-18, 2022, the highest concentrations of radioactive aerosols could be observed within the territory of Ukraine, especially in the zone closest to the emission source, with a radius of 50-100 kilometers in almost all directions from the power plant," the Institute wrote on social media.

"Significant concentrations of radionuclides could reach the city of Kyiv. Partially radioactive impurities might also spread to neighboring states (the eastern part of Belarus, Poland, the Baltic States)."

According to the map released by the Institute, the simulated radioactive fallout could also reach Slovakia and eastern portions of the Czech Republic. Prague and Bohemia appear to be spared, at least in the simulation.

The edge of the simulated fallout cloud dissipates over Olomouc and Ostrava, which are about 1,000 kilometers from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is more modern than the one at Chernobyl, and its reactors don't have the same design flaws. Like all nuclear plants, numerous safeguards have been put in place to prevent an explosion resulting from a natural disaster such as an earthquake.

However, as the Fukushima nuclear disaster showcased, these safeguards can fail if multiple incidents hit the plant in succession. And nuclear power plants have not been designed to sustain the impacts of war.

"Like all nuclear power plants, Zaporizhzhya contains various redundant safety systems, which under normal circumstances are highly effective," the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's James​ Acton told CNN.

"The problem is that nuclear power plants are not designed for war zones and, under plausible circumstances, all these systems could fail."

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