The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released a statement saying that “the water level in the reservoir that is supplying Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has been falling throughout the day,” however, “the facility has back-up options available and there is no short-term risk to nuclear safety and security.”
Early Tuesday, the Nova Kakhovka dam burst, allowing water from the Kakhovka Reservoir to empty into he Dnipro River, which has caused significant flooding in Kherson along the river banks. Concerns were raised because the ZNPP pulls water from the reservoir to feed its cooling mechanisms, in which falling water levels could put them at risk. An exact cause of the burst remains unclear at this time, but Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of blowing it up.
IAEA experts present at the ZNPP reported that “between 10 am and 8 pm local time, the reservoir fell by a total of 83 cm to 15.44 metres,” further warning that “If and when the level goes below 12.7 metres, the ZNPP will no longer be able to pump water from the reservoir to replenish the reserves at the site.”
Due to a fluctuating water loss rate, an exact time table for this to happen is unknown.
There are back up measures in case water falls below the 12.7 meter mark, such as pulling water from an alternative cooling pond, which “is currently full and has enough in storage to supply the plant for several months as its six reactors are in shutdown mode,” as well as pulling water from the city of Enerhodar. This is all dependent, however, that none of the safeguards are damaged by shelling.
Overall, IAEA Director General Grossi said that operators of the ZNPP are well prepared, having undergone drills following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.