{{ subpage.title }}

Gabriella Turrisi

Europe's nuclear dilemma

Last Friday’s attack by Russian forces on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant triggered outcry over the potential for a Chernobyl-like disaster. The US called it a “war crime,” and the issue was debated in an emergency session of the UN Security Council, where Russia received a global dressing down.

The blaze resulting from artillery use at Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear facility was eventually controlled. But Ukraine’s nuclear regulator told the IAEA on Sunday that it is having problems communicating with staff at the plant, and that a Russian general now controls the facility.

Putin’s next target, according to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace, could be the three reactors at the Yuzhnoukrainsk power plant, which generates 10% of Ukraine’s electricity and is a major energy supplier throughout southern Ukraine. “Loss of cooling function to the reactor cores and spent fuel pools could lead to a disaster far worse even than the [2011] Fukushima Daiichi [disaster],” Burnie warns.

While the war is threatening Ukraine’s nuclear power operations — not to mention impacting world energy supplies and prices — it’s also raising questions about the safe use of nuclear energy. The continent has been accelerating its nuclear power usage — now officially, and controversially, labeled “green” by the European Commission, despite the threat of accidents and radioactive waste.

But the fast-changing security landscape poses a dilemma for European policymakers. How can they fight global warming while balancing their energy needs with this new security threat posed by Vladimir Putin?

Read Now Show less
Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Who's nuclear in the EU?

When Russian troops shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine on Friday, many feared it could cause a Chernobyl-like catastrophe. But even before this event, the status of nuclear energy within Europe has been a massive point of contention. Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, European Union states have bolstered their guidelines for nuclear power safety, but some have been trying to phase it out altogether. Last month, the European Commission outlined how nuclear energy could be labeled a “green” investment (presuming the plants can safely dispose radioactive waste). Critics labeled the move as “greenwashing,” and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer tweeted that “Nuclear power is neither ‘green’ nor sustainable.” So how might this latest scare in Ukraine change Europe’s nuclear calculus, if at all? We take a look at which EU states produce the most nuclear heat, and how that’s changed since 2011.

Nuclear energy is costly — and still highly unpopular a decade after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. But it also generates emissions-free electricity. Will countries embrace nuclear power to fight climate change?

Gabriella Turrisi

After Fukushima, can nuclear power actually help save the planet?

Ten years ago this week, a powerful earthquake off the coast of eastern Japan triggered a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A decade and dozens of decommissioned reactors later, nuclear energy still supplies about 10 percent of global electricity, but its future remains uncertain.

As more countries pledge to curb emissions to mitigate climate change, nuclear could serve as a clean(ish) and reliable source of energy. But investing more in nuclear comes with tradeoffs.

Read Now Show less

First Chinese-developed nuclear reactor starts operations

November 29, 2020 5:00 AM

BEIJING • China has powered up its first domestically developed nuclear reactor - the Hualong One - a significant step in Beijing's attempts to become less dependent on Western allies for energy security and critical technology.

China's first domestically made nuclear reactor goes online

November 28, 2020 1:50 PM

The reactor can generate 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.

Japan decides to release Fukushima contaminated water into sea: Reports

October 16, 2020 8:01 AM

Japan's government has decided to release treated water containing radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea.

Fukushima staff could use raincoats as coronavirus threatens gear production

February 18, 2020 3:22 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - Workers at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may need to wear plastic raincoats as the coronavirus outbreak threatens production of protective suits in China, the operator warned on Tuesday (Feb 18).

Japan panel recommends ocean release for radioactive Fukushima water

January 31, 2020 11:31 PM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A panel of experts advising Japan's government on a disposal method for radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant on Friday (Jan 31) recommended releasing it into the ocean, a move likely to alarm neighbouring countries.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

Latest