Steve Nesbitt, Grossi, Russia discussed on All Things Considered


Right So this is a Ukrainian plant that's been occupied by Russia since March, but Ukrainians continue to operate it, and it's been supplying power to both Russian and Ukrainian held territory. The current situation really started in August, there was this big uptick in shelling, both sides blame each other for that. But at the start of this month, that shelling led the last main power line connecting the plant to the grid to go down in about four days after that. A backup line went down. That means the entire plant has been cut off from the electricity grid for about four days, and that's not good because nuclear plants need power. And explain why that is. Right, so these plants obviously produce electricity, but they also require it to operate all their safety systems and most importantly, they're cooling systems. Pumps to keep water moving through the cores and keep them from overheating, need to keep running if they stop, a meltdown is possible. God, okay, but you said that they've been without power from the grid for four days now. Do we know how they've been keeping the plant safe during that time? Yeah, interestingly, this type of reactor is able to run in something called islanding islanding operation mode. That basically means that they keep the reactor on or keep one of the reactors on. But turn it way down so it's not producing a lot of power. It's a pretty cool trick and it can power the rest of the plant, but it can't go on forever because the other equipment just isn't designed to run at low power like this. And grossi also says the workers are a factor. They live in a nearby town that's lost power, water, and sewage. He's concerned that the staff will have to leave for their own safety. And that's another reason that the plants Ukrainian owners are discussing whether to shut it down. So if they do shut down the last reactor at the plant, does that mean this crisis will be over? So unfortunately not. And actually makes things a little bit worse in the short term. I mean, if you think of a nuclear plant like cooking on a stove, you might think it's like a stove you can turn down the stove and it just turns off. It's actually more like cooking on charcoal. So even when you're done, those coals stay hot. And that means water needs to keep going to the course. I spoke to a nuclear engineer named Steve nesbitt with the American nuclear society. He says, all plants are prepared for this kind of emergency. They have backup generators to keep the water pumping. We don't want to go on the diesel generators, but it's a situation you can abide by for a while. And in the case of separation, the IAEA says they normally have about ten days of fuel on site, but it might be a little less because we know they've had to run those generators a little bit. Okay, so if they shut the reactor down, the clock starts ticking, they'll need to get more fuel to the site for those generators. I don't want to speculate too much here, but what would be the worst case scenario at that point? Well, the worst case scenario is the reactors, the generators run out of fuel, the reactors heat up and there might be a meltdown. But just before we go, I want to say this won't be a Chernobyl like crisis. These are much newer reactors, they're safer, they have containment buildings that could potentially help. It doesn't want to test any of this stuff. And for that reason, they're calling on all sides to cut it out, knock it off right now. That is Ampere's Jeff brumfield. Thank you so much, Jeff. Thank you. Everyone knew Britain's Queen Elizabeth was likely to die soon. She was 96, yet for many, it's still a shock. And pyrrhus Philip Reeves filed this report from the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, where the queen is expected to lie at rest in the coming days. It's hard to grasp the

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