Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia: Attacks on Ukrainian nuclear plants are sparking panic not just in Ukraine. Experts call for a more measured approach and better crisis communication.
Chernobyl needs electricity. The remaining fuel rods still need cooling with electricity, 36 years after the accident at the nuclear power plant. And that is a problem in the face of the war in Ukraine. Power had barely been restored to the former power plant, which came under fire on Monday, when the Ukrainian state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo announced that the repaired power line had been damaged again by Russian forces.
In the Telegram channel of the Ukrainian operator Energoatomt, it said that its staff were no longer able to carry on because they were “physically and psychologically exhausted.”
Since February 24, the Russian army has attacked three nuclear plants , including the biggest one still operational in Europe, Zaporizhzhia. That assault took place on March 4.
This Monday, Energoatom said the Russian army had placed munition in close proximity to the first reactor and detonated it. DW was unable to verify this account.
Attacks on atomic power plants serve the purpose of spreading fear about a nuclear catastrophe, Anna Veronika Wendland told DW. The research coordinator at the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe is an expert in the history of technology and eastern Europe and an advocate of the peaceful use of atomic power.
The ruins of Chernobyl
Aside from fearmongering, Wendland says, “the taking over of infrastructure objects is the second factor that plays a big role for the Russian side.” She believes that the fear sparked internationally by such attacks is partly exaggerated or counterproductive.
The historian thinks the public should be better informed about the possible damage and the risks relating to Chernobyl, for example. The last remaining reactor at the site of the nuclear disaster was shut down over 20 years ago.