Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Loses Cooling Water Source

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in war-torn Ukraine lost an important source of cooling water for its six nuclear reactors, spent fuel pools, and essential safety equipment when the Kakhovka dam was breached on Tuesday. Fortunately, the reactors have been shut down for many months, reducing their cooling needs, and the plant may have sufficient water reserves at present. However, this could become a major safety concern over time.

In February, Dr. Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientist, published a paper about what would happen if the Zaporizhzhia plant lost access to the reservoir’s water supply.

He wrote that the water in the plant’s cooling pond would eventually become depleted, at which point the plant would need to tap into alternative water sources such as the city’s fire water system. However, this system would also have to be replenished, potentially by using a suction dredge ship stationed in the Dnipro River.

The International Atomic Energy Agency chief has said that the plant’s cooling pond above the Kakhovka Reservoir may have enough water to cool the plants’ systems for “some months” and called for the pond to be protected.

Dr. Lyman’s paper, “One year later, new dangers threaten Ukraine’s embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant” was published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.


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UCS Media Alert

June 6, 2023

Contact: Lisa Nurnberger,, 443-668-9219