A group of scientists published an “overview and assessment of major nuclear threats arising from Russian military occupation of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ)” in the latest issue of atw – International Journal for Nuclear Power.
The good news is that no major radioactive contamination has been recorded so far. The bad news is that it was just luck and next time we can be less lucky.
“Although all modelling results suggest the Ukrainian regulatory limit for 137Cs air pollutions of 0.800 mBq/m3 have not been exceeded, significantly more undue consequences could have occurred particularly… in the case of fires affecting waste dumps and/or waste storages. In the worst case, forest fires could directly impact the nuclear facilities at ChNPP (Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant). It could result in practically unpredictable consequences”, scientists report.
Forest fires have been a problem for Chernobyl zone already. You may see how it looked two years ago:
Now vegetation season begins and it mitigates this risk.
However, if war activities will resume in the area it can damage New Safe Confinement that confines the remains of the number 4 reactor unit. It could have grave consequences:
“Significant radioactive releases, similar to those after the 1986 accident, could occur from the instantaneous loss of negative pressure within either of the shelters due to shelling, explosions, or another event, such as an aircraft crash. Moreover, broken parts could fall on the original shelter and cause its collapse due to its limited stability.
Irrespective of high fissile materials amounts, criticality accidents are excluded reliably by ensuring sufficient spacing between SNF assemblies.
However, in the case of shelling or explosions, this condition cannot be guaranteed. It could result in an unplanned configuration/spacing of the assemblies with unpredictable consequences. If the SNFSF-1 or SNFSF-2 storage facilities are affected by explosive events from artillery shelling or missile strikes, the consequences might even exceed the those of the original reactor unit four accident, as the inventory of fissile materials in these facilities is several orders of magnitude higher”, – the authors cautioned.
That would affects those who live near Chernobyl Plant and who will have to inhale dust with radio nucleotides. Comparison with the original reactor unit four accident is not quite correct. In 1986 short-lived radio nucleotides were the main contaminants. Now only long-lived radio nucleotides remain inside of New Safe Confinement, they are less dangerous.
The only danger is radioactive dust and it could be a problem for Kiev and for the region near Chernobyl Plant, I guess.