Russia is draining a huge Ukrainian reservoir, endangering the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant - in the event of a shutdown of the water supply, problems will begin with the cooling of the reactors. The fact that the reservoir is being drained was previously reported by the press service of the Zaporizhzhia Regional District Administration. On February 10, NPR published satellite imagery showing a discharge from the reservoir.
It is reported that water began to be released in November 2022 through the sluice gates of a hydroelectric power plant controlled by Russian troops - immediately after the withdrawal of the Russian Armed Forces from the right bank of the Dnieper. At risk are the supply of drinking water to hundreds of thousands of residents, the irrigation of over 200 hectares of farmland and the cooling system of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, writes NPR.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was aware of the potential risk associated with falling water levels in the reservoir.
“Even though the drop in water levels does not pose an immediate threat to nuclear and security safety, it could become a source of concern if allowed to continue,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement.
Radar altimetry data fixes the current level of the reservoir at around 14 meters, which is about 2 meters below its normal levels. Since December, the water level in the reservoir has fallen to the lowest level in 30 years of satellite observations. If the level falls below 13.2 meters, the cooling system of the Zaporizhia NPP, which runs on water from the reservoir, will be in danger, the Zaporizhia OVA said in a statement.
The rate of water level drop is so rapid that a new coastline is already appearing along the reservoir. Satellite images show hundreds of meters of suddenly appeared silty deposits.
Ukrhydroenergo said that the discharge is carried out by Russia deliberately. The NPR publication notes that the discharge is not a consequence of the undermining of the canvas on the dam, the floodgates were opened later - this can be seen if we compare satellite images from early February 2023 and November 2022, when the explosion was carried out.
The Zaporozhye regional military administration believes that the purpose of draining the reservoir may be partial flooding of the territory south of the dam in order to prevent Ukrainian troops from crossing the Dnieper River.