Thursday night (March 3) I was about to make my usual move to the living room to read dead-tree magazines and books with the cats, and a black and white, hard-to-decipher livecam picture showed up on my Twitter feed. A firefight at Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant!
I am in touch with a loose network of people with skills to interpret these reports, and we went into action. First thing was to figure out where the camera was at the plant and what we were looking at. Get a map of the plant. Figure out what we were seeing on the video and if it was genuine.
Twitter was panicking, as so often happens when anything happens with nuclear reactors or radiation mentioned, so I wanted to get out whatever information I could as fast as I could. Others were doing the same.
That was how the next couple of hours went – messages to people via social media, scrutinizing the videos and maps, discussing with others what various events might mean, answering questions on Twitter as I could, pushing out information we were reasonably sure of.
I didn’t look at my emails until Friday morning, and there was a pile of them from reporters wanting to interview me. So that was how I spent Friday. It resulted in some good news stories, so I don’t have to summarize the situation at the plant, except to say that the current situation seems to be that the Russians have control of the plant, but they are allowing the operators to change shifts and to run the plant properly.
Here’s an overview from an organization that has radiation monitors around the globe, tended by volunteers.
Nature: Ukraine nuclear power plant attack: scientists assess the risks.
Vice: Why Didn’t the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Fire End in Disaster?
BuzzFeed News: A Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Is Now A War Zone. Here’s What That Means.
Chemistry World: Fears for Ukraine’s nuclear facilities follow Russian troops taking charge of Chernobyl site.
The media, by and large, have been much more responsible this time around in reporting on nuclear issues. There have also been hits on a temporary storage site near Kyiv for hospital, research, and industrial wastes, and, this morning, a reported hit on the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology, which has a facility for producing medical isotopes. Here’s the story/thread on that from Matt Bunn, who keeps track of facilities like this.
One of the colleagues I keep in touch with for the business and grid side of nuclear power is Dan Yurman, who notes that the American Nuclear Society saw fit to admonish those who are speculating irresponsibly. My guess is that they’re talking about CNN, where the choice of nuclear commentator seems to be related to the level of fear they can generate.
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner