Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

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Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station
Kernkraftwerk Saporischschja.JPG
Two cooling towers at left, one largely obscured by the other, and the six reactor buildings viewed from the Nikopol shore. The large building between the cooling towers and the reactors, and the two tall smokestacks, are at the Zaporizhzhia thermal power station, beyond the nuclear plant.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
Official nameЗапорізька атомна електростанція
Country Ukraine
Location Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Oblast
Coordinates 47°30′30″N34°35′04″E / 47.50833°N 34.58444°E / 47.50833; 34.58444
Construction beganUnit 1: 1 April 1980
Unit 2: 1 January 1981
Unit 3: 1 April 1982
Unit 4: 1 April 1983
Unit 5: 1 November 1985
Unit 6: 1 June 1986
Commission date Unit 1: 25 December 1985
Unit 2: 15 February 1986
Unit 3: 5 March 1987
Unit 4: 14 April 1988
Unit 5: 27 October 1989
Unit 6: 17 September 1996
Owner(s) Energoatom
Operator(s)Energoatom (De jure)
Rosatom (De facto)
Nuclear power station
Reactor type PWR
Reactor supplier Atomstroyexport
Cooling towers2
Cooling source Kakhovka Reservoir
Thermal capacity6 × 3000 MWth
Power generation
Units operational6 × 950 MW
Make and model6 × VVER-1000/320
Nameplate capacity 5700 MW
Capacity factor 58.68%
Annual net output
  • 29,299 GWh (2016)
  • 38,000 GWh
External links
Website [ dead link ]
Commons Related media on Commons

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station (Ukrainian : Запорізька атомна електростанція, romanized: Zaporiz'ka atomna elektrostantsiia) in southeastern Ukraine is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world. It has been under Russian occupation since 2022. It was built by the Soviet Union near the city of Enerhodar, on the southern shore of the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnieper river. It is operated by Energoatom, who operate Ukraine's other three nuclear power stations.


An annotated Landsat 9 photograph of Zaporizhzia Nuclear Power Plant, February 2022
Reactor units 1-6
Electricity pylons
Training building shelled
Radioactive waste storage
Cooling pond
Cooling towers
Kakhovka Reservoir Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant aerial.svg
An annotated Landsat 9 photograph of Zaporizhzia Nuclear Power Plant, February 2022
16. Reactor units 16
7. Electricity pylons
8.Training building shelled
9.Radioactive waste storage
10.Cooling pond
11.Cooling towers
12. Kakhovka Reservoir

The plant has six VVER-1000 pressurized light water nuclear reactors (PWR), each fuelled with 235U (LEU) [1] and generating 950 MWe, for a total power output of 5,700 MWe. [2] The first five were successively brought online between 1985 and 1989, and the sixth was added in 1995. In 2020, the plant generated nearly half of the country's electricity derived from nuclear power, [3] and more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine. [4] The Zaporizhzhia thermal power station is nearby.

On 4 March 2022, the nuclear and thermal power stations were both captured by Russian forces during the Battle of Enerhodar of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. [5] [6] [7] [8] As of 12 March 2022 the plant was controlled by the Russian company Rosatom. [9] Since its capture, the plant does not generate power and is mostly shut down. [10]


The spent nuclear fuel is stored in cooling pools inside the reactor containments for up to five years. It is then transferred to an on-site dry cask storage facility that was commissioned in 2004. [11] [12] The reactors and spent fuel pools depend on water from the Kakhovka Reservoir for cooling. The reservoir is created by the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam, which is a main conflict location of the two war participants. [13] [14]

The electricity generated is supplied to the Ukrainian grid through four 750 kV overhead transmission lines and one 330 kV line. [12] One of the 750 kV lines runs northwards across the Kakhovka Reservoir and on to the Dniprovska substation just south of Vilnohirsk in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. The other three 750 kV lines run south from the plant. One diverges from the others near the village of Zapovitne and runs to the Kakhovska substation just west of Nova Kakhovka. This is the newest of the lines and was commissioned in 2021. [11] Two lines continue south-southeast, diverging at the urban-type settlement of Mykhailivka. One continues southeast to the Pivdennodonbaska mines in Donetsk Oblast, while the other continues east and then north to the Zaporizka substation north of Znackove in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. [15] The 330 kV line runs to the neighbouring Zaporizhzhia thermal power station. [16]

In 2017, modernization work was completed on reactor unit 3, enabling a 10-year life extension to 2027. [3] In 2021, modernization work was completed on unit 5, enabling a 10-year life extension. [17]


1984 electrical fire

On 27 January 1984, a major fire started during commissioning of unit 1, before any nuclear fuel was in the reactor. An electrical relay caused PVC insulation to catch fire, molten PVC causing more fires below in a vertical shaft. More than 4,000 control units, 41 motors, and 700 km of cables were damaged. [18]

2014 unrest and safety concerns

The Zaporizhzhia power plant is located around 200 km from the war in Donbas combat zone, where fighting became intense in 2014. On 31 August 2014, a Greenpeace member, Tobias Münchmeyer, expressed concerns the plant could be hit by heavy artillery from the fighting.

On 3 December 2014, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk announced the occurrence of an incident several days before at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. [19] The cause of the incident was reported as a short circuit in the power outlet system and was not linked to the site's production. [20] One of the six reactors of the plant was shut down twice in December 2014. [21] This and lack of coal for Ukraine's coal-fired power stations led to rolling blackouts throughout the country from early until late December 2014. [21]

2022 Russian occupation of plant

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February 2022, Energoatom shut down Units 5 and 6 to reduce risk, keeping Units 1 to 4 in operation on 25 February. [22]

At 11:28 pm local time on 3 March 2022, a column of 10 Russian armored vehicles and two tanks approached the power plant. [23] [24] Fighting commenced at 12:48am on 4 March when Ukraine forces fired anti-tank missiles. Russian forces responded with a variety of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades. [23] During approximately two hours of heavy combat, a fire broke out in a training facility outside the main complex, which was extinguished by 6:20am, [25] [26] [27] though other sections surrounding the plant sustained damage. [23] [28]

The fire did not impact reactor safety or any essential equipment. [28] [29] [27] The plant lost 1.3 GW of capacity. [30] It was later learned that a large caliber bullet pierced an outer wall of Reactor No. 4 and an artillery shell hit a transformer at Reactor No. 6. [31]

Ukrayinska Pravda reported on 12 March 2022 that the plant's management was told by Russian authorities that the plant now belonged to Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear power company. [9] It continued to operate and supply data, including from a remote monitoring system, to the IAEA, [32] and continued to be operated by Ukrainian staff, under Russian control. [33] Satellite imagery from 9 July 2022 and 7 August 2022 shows that Russian forces established bases and defensive positions next to the reactor units, [34] along the central supply route [35] and on the periphery of the facility. [36]

On 3 September 2022 an IAEA delegation visited the plant and on 6 September 2022 a report was published documenting damage and potential threats to plant security caused by external shelling and the presence of occupying troops in the plant. [37] [38]

With the declared annexation of Zaporizhzhia oblast, Russia also declared legal takeover of the plant, while the actual control over its operations continued to be unclear as of October 2022. Russian forces detained a number of plant's Ukrainian employees—starting from its deputy director Valery Martynyuk, his assistant Oleh Oshek, and IT manager Oleh Kostyukov—without providing any justification for their detainment. [39] [40]

As of November 2022, Ukrainian cities had drawn up plans for evacuation centers and secured supplies of potassium iodide pills, and 10% of Ukrainian emergency medical teams had been reconfigured to respond to chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear risks. [41]

The destruction of the nearby Kakhovka Dam on 6 June 2023 was reported to have no immediate risk to the plant. [42] Generally five units have been in cold shutdown with one unit kept in hot shutdown, which the IAEA reported was necessary to produce steam for nuclear safety purposes, including the processing of liquid radioactive waste in storage tanks. The IAEA is urging the investigation of whether an external boiler can be installed as an alternative to keeping one unit in hot shutdown. [43] [44]

On January 19, 2024, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported the presence of mines along the perimeter of the power plant's territory, in the buffer zone between the inner and outer fences of the facility. According to the Agency it is "inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards." Mines that had been found there previously were removed in November 2023. [45]

See also

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