Nuclear Safety Concerns over Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station

GS-2 mains : Economy 

Short Notes or Revision Notes 

Question : Discuss the nuclear safety concerns raised by the alleged strike on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station and analyze the potential risks associated with nuclear disasters. Highlight the measures and international frameworks in place to prevent nuclear accidents and manage their aftermath.


  • Russia demands Western response to alleged Ukrainian strike on Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station under Russian control.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it’s the first time the plant has been directly targeted since 2022, endangering nuclear safety.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station

  • Largest nuclear plant in Europe, located in southern Ukraine.
  • Seized by Russia in 2022 during invasion.
  • Stopped generating power in 2022 but requires constant electricity for cooling a reactor in “hot conservation” (not fully offline).

Nuclear Disasters

  • Defined as abnormal emission of radiation due to accidents at nuclear facilities.
  • Causes: lethal effects, large-scale radioactive releases, and reactor core meltdowns.
  • 99 accidents globally, with 57% occurring in the USA since Chernobyl.
  • Examples: Fukushima Daiichi (2011), Chernobyl (1986), Three Mile Island (1979), SL-1 (1961).

Concerns Related to Nuclear Disasters

  • Radiation Exposure:Acute and chronic health effects like radiation sickness, cancer, genetic mutations, and reproductive problems.
  • Contamination:Radioactive particles contaminate air, water, and soil, harming ecosystems, agriculture, and human health.
  • Displacement and Evacuation:Large populations may need to evacuate affected areas.
  • Economic Costs:Substantial cleanup, decontamination, healthcare, lost livelihoods, and environmental remediation expenses.
  • Intergenerational Impact:Genetic mutations and health issues can affect future generations.
    • Chernobyl example: doctors advised pregnant women to terminate pregnancies due to radiation exposure.
  • Psychological Impact:Stigmatization, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bullying, and suicides.
  • Disaster Response Challenges:Specialized equipment, trained personnel, and coordinated international efforts are needed to mitigate radiation spread and manage aftermath.

Safety Measures to Prevent Nuclear Disasters

  • Stringent Regulations:Comprehensive frameworks for licensing, operation, emergency preparedness, and environmental protection.
  • Risk Assessment and Management:Identify potential hazards and vulnerabilities, then implement mitigation strategies.
  • Design and Engineering Standards:Ensure rigorous standards to prevent accidents and withstand natural disasters.
  • Safety Systems:Multiple layers to prevent and mitigate accidents, including reactor shutdown systems, containment structures, emergency cooling systems, and backup power supplies.
  • Operator Training:Provide comprehensive training for nuclear plant personnel to ensure safe operation and emergency response.

International Regulatory Framework

  • Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS):Legally binding treaty establishing safety principles and obligations for operating nuclear power plants.
    • Requires national reports and peer reviews to assess compliance.
  • Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and Radioactive Waste Management:Addresses safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.
    • Participating states commit to safety measures throughout the radioactive material lifecycle.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):Promotes nuclear safety through standards, guidelines, and technical assistance programs.
    • Conducts safety reviews and assessments of nuclear facilities.
  • Early Notification and Assistance Conventions:Established after Chernobyl to facilitate international cooperation in nuclear accidents or emergencies.

Indian Regulations

  • Atomic Energy Act, 1962: Governs nuclear facility establishment, utilization, and radioactive source use.
  • Environmental Protection Act, 1986: Covers environmental protection aspects.
  • Radiation Protection Rules, 1962: Regulates radiation protection.
  • Mines Minerals Prescribed Substance Rules, 1984: Governs safety in mining and milling prescribed substances.
  • Atomic Energy Safe Disposal of Radioactive Waste Rules, 1987: Ensures safe waste disposal.


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