Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights vulnerability of nuclear power plants

John Yang:

Judy, the latest warnings come from Ukrainian authorities, who say the Russian attacks have left Chernobyl disconnected from the power grid. Chernobyl, as many know, was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.

And even if it no longer produces electricity, it still stores spent nuclear fuel, which must be cooled. There are backup generators providing power to do this, but they run on diesel and only have a 48 hour supply. And, last week, a training area near another nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the largest in Europe, briefly caught fire during a Russian assault.

Joining us now is science correspondent Miles O’Brien, who has covered the aftermath of Chernobyl and other nuclear accidents.

Miles, the name of Chernobyl, of course, haunts any discussion of nuclear energy. What is the real threat of what is happening there now?


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