Is Zaporizhzhia the new Chernobyl? B92.net reveals whether we are in danger
Russian military operation in Ukraine has been going on for several months now. According to the current situation, it doesn't seem that peace will come soon.Source: B92
Recently, the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia has also been threatened, while accusations of attacks come from both sides.
The presence of weapons and their use near a nuclear power plant increases the risk of nuclear incidents and accidents. Experts from the Directorate for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Security of Serbia spoke to B92.net about the possible accident and its consequences for the world and Serbia.
Recently, the aforementioned nuclear power plant was shelled again, and the level of radiation in Ukraine can be monitored from all over Europe.
"As part of the monitoring of radioactivity in the environment, which is the responsibility of the Directorate for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Security of Serbia, and which is carried out through measurements by automatic measuring stations and laboratory analyzes performed by authorized laboratories in Serbia, we monitor the level of radioactivity in the environment of Serbia. In addition to these results, which give us information about the level of radioactivity in Serbia, through the European platform for the exchange of radiological data, EURDEP, we monitor the level of radioactivity throughout Europe, including Ukraine. Also, through the International Atomic Energy Agency's emergency notification system, we constantly monitor the situation at nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Through this system, we receive official information about whether damage occurred during military operations and whether radioactive substances were released into the environment," the Directorate states.
The Directorate adds that the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia was built in accordance with strict nuclear safety standards, which require that the plant maintain an adequate level of safety in the event of extreme external influences that could damage protective barriers.
"In the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant, the consequences would directly depend on the type of event, meteorological conditions and numerous other parameters. In such a case, we assess the situation on the basis of all available information and make a decision on protection measures. The most threatened areas in Ukraine would be those closer to the site of the accident, while the citizens of Serbia, due to the distance from the Ukrainian nuclear power plants, would not feel significant consequences. The protective measures that would be implemented in Serbia in that case would be, first of all, radioactivity control of products originating from contaminated areas, increased control of radioactivity in drinking water and domestic products, as well as increased control of environmental radioactivity. Products that do not meet the correctness criteria would be banned. In the event of an accident at one of the Ukrainian nuclear power plants, due to the great distance of our country, citizens of Serbia would not need taking iodine tablets, evacuation or shield, while self-initiated implementation of these protection measures can even cause damage. It is extremely important that, as in the case of other emergency situations, citizens follow the instructions of the competent authorities," added the Directorate.
Zaporizhzhia is the new Chernobyl?
Many accidents in the nuclear power plant are associated with the explosion in Chernobyl in 1986, when there was a release of radioactive substances in a quantity 400 times greater than when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. If there was another accident, would we be in danger?
"The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is of a completely different type than the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Unlike Chernobyl, the Zaporizhzhia power plant has a different type of protective barriers that are designed and manufactured to withstand extreme external and internal influences, while ensuring the retention of radionuclides within the protective barriers . At this moment, it is very ungrateful to comment on the consequences of potential events," experts say.
The Directorate adds that if radioactivity occurs in the environment, the state has mechanisms to act in such cases and protect the population. They also add that we do not feel any consequences of the Chernobyl disaster on the territory of Serbia.
"There are still some radioactive isotopes in the environment, primarily cesium-137, which were released from the Chernobyl reactor, but the concentrations of these isotopes are very low and we do not feel any consequences due to their presence."
The effect of radiation on human body
Exactly 36 years have passed since the Chernobyl disaster, and the forbidden zone has become a real nature reserve. Many animals live in the forest, and the radiation level is still high. How does it affect the body?
"Ionizing radiation damages the cells of the human organism, but this does not mean that every exposure to ionizing radiation will have negative consequences for health, primarily due to the ability of the human organism to largely "repair" damage caused by exposure to radiation. We are exposed to ionizing radiation from nature every day and the human body is capable of surviving in such conditions. Also, we should not forget the immeasurable benefit we have from the use of ionizing radiation in medicine, from its use in diagnostic procedures where x-rays or scanners are used, for example, to its use in the treatment of cancer, where eg gamma or x-knife is used," the Directorate explains.
The level of radioactivity in Serbia is currently normal, and the Directorate for Radiation and Nuclear Safety and Security of Serbia regularly informs the public about it.