On June 21, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, warned that Russia had mined the cooling pools of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Equally ominously, on June 30 the Guardian newspaper reported: “Russia is reducing its presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate (GUR) has claimed, with staff told to relocate to Crimea and military patrols scaled back.
“The agency’s chief, Kyrylo Budanov, has alleged Moscow has approved a plan to blow up the station and has mined four out of six power units, as well as a cooling pond. Last week Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Russia was plotting a “terrorist attack”.
“According to the GUR, several representatives of Russia’s state nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, have already left. Ukrainian employees who stayed at the plant and signed contracts with Rosatom had been told to evacuate by Monday, preferably to Crimea, it said.
“The intelligence agency named three senior individuals – the plant’s chief inspector, the head of the legal department and the deputy in charge of supplies – who had already departed. It said the number of Russian soldiers at the station and in the nearby town of Enerhodar had been reduced.”
Further, according to another source, Russia has sent a letter to the UN saying it has no plans to blow up the plant. Taking into account the reports that he is reducing Russian staff there, this probably means Putin is already getting his cover story together.
In October of last year, Zelensky warned that Russia had mined the Nova Kakhovka dam. The world was silent and we know the result.
What would be the result of exploding mines in the cooling pools? The same Guardian article writes: “Former plant workers told the Guardian it would be difficult to damage the reactors, which were protected by thick steel and concrete. But they said the small cooling pond – which the Russians have allegedly mined – was more vulnerable, as was a dry storage area used for spent nuclear fuel.
“An explosion in the cooling pond could lead to a partial nuclear meltdown similar to the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the US state of Pennsylvania, Oleksiy Kovynyev, a former senior engineer, said. In this scenario, most radiation would be contained.
“But he added: ‘Of course, if you are an absolute maniac and open the ventilation channels this would throw out radiation.’ Kovynyev said the dry storage area at the plant contained 24 spent ‘fuel assemblies’, sealed in 120 ‘hermetic’ steel casks.”
Will the world be silent again? We urge you and whatever group you are in to speak up now. Try to get the word to the media. Build a people’s movement throughout the region and beyond. Call on environmental groups to take a clear stand. Try to get the word into Russia itself. Even Russians who support this war must be made to understand that they are endangered by Putin causing even a partial meltdown of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Demand that the UN insist on sending a team of the IAEA to thoroughly inspect and permanently operate the plant.
Sound the alarm now, before it is too late.
NOTE: Since this article was published, we received an article from “Open Democracy” which further clarifies the issue. The article casts doubt on Ukraine’s claim that Russia has planted mines in or around the cooling pools. It seems unlikely that Ukraine would be making those claims up, especially considering the removal of Russian staff from the plant. According to this article, a full scale meltdown appears extremely unlikely. However, a serious release of radiation into the environment, especially into the groundwater, is entirely possible.