Historical perspective of a nuclear power plant at risk in a war zone


  • L. Sajo-Bohus Universidad Simón Bolívar
  • J. A. López University of Texas at El Paso
  • Miguel Castro-Colin Bruker AXS GmbH




Nuclear reactor, Nuclear power plant, Reactor damage, Radioactive matter release


The past seven decades the design and structural material of nuclear installations has improved and their safety precludes the possibility of severe accidents in GEN-III and III⁺ nuclear power plants (NPP). Zaporizhzhya GEN-III⁺-NPP (Ukraine), is used as subject of discussion. This NPP suffered a military attack this 2022. We discuss the possibility of a severe nuclear accident and the release of radioactive material, as a consequence of an adverse structural damage. Clearly, damage to a GEN-II, -III⁺ reactor dome by military ordnance can only be estimated from data gained during past nuclear accidents in a war zone, or in the neighborhood of military targets. We report historical experiences of reactors in a war zone or under direct military attack. Based on the available data we will discuss possible scenarios applicable to a nuclear installation in Ukraine. The concrete containment of buildings protecting the nuclear vessel and its LEU-fuel loaded core, are not designed to withstand military attacks. We will discuss possible consequences of a severe structural damage due to weaponry. Estimations will be made considering the VVER-1000 Zaporizhzhya ZNPP, class GEN-III+ built near the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine. This reactor has a 2m-plus-steel-reinforced containment. It is also discussed that spent-fuel temporal reservoirs in war zones, are higher-risk structures with higher likelihood of severe radioactive material release than NPP reactors.


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How to Cite

Sajo-Bohus L, López JA, Castro-Colin M. Historical perspective of a nuclear power plant at risk in a war zone. Supl. Rev. Mex. Fis. [Internet]. 2023 Mar. 8 [cited 2023 Oct. 2];4(1):011002 1-10. Available from: https://rmf.smf.mx/ojs/index.php/rmf-s/article/view/6724