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Kakhovka attack threatens nuclear, metals and ags operations in southern Ukraine

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Kakhovka attack threatens nuclear, metals and ags operations in southern Ukraine


Supplies water for cooling at major facilities

Risks to commodities infrastructure rising on conflict escalation

Threatens irrigation in southern Ukraine

  • Author
  • Rosemary Griffin    Vladislav Vorotnikov
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power Energy Transition Oil Metals
  • Topic
  • War in Ukraine

An attack on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in southern Ukraine threatens water supplies to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and Kryviy Rih steelworks, as well as to key agricultural regions.

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Attacks on commodities infrastructure in Russia and Ukraine are increasing, as Ukraine attempts to regain territory lost since Russia invaded in February 2022.

Ukrainian hydropower company Ukrhydroenergo said June 6 that a Russian attack hit the plant.

"The Kakhovka hydropower plant was completely destroyed by an explosion in the engine room. The plant cannot be restored," the company said.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said that storage containing 450 mt of fuel oil was destroyed during the attack, according to a ministry statement. The ministry estimates that around 150 mt has leaked into the Dnipro river.

The reservoir also supplies water for irrigation in southern Ukraine, a key agricultural region.

Nuclear impact

The strike raises risks to operations at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as water from the reservoir at Kakhovka is used for cooling there.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does not see an immediate risk to the safety of the plant.

"The absence of cooling water in the essential cooling water systems for an extended period of time would cause fuel melt and inoperability of the emergency diesel generators," IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement to the IAEA Board of Governors June 6.

Water from the Kakhovka reservoir is used for residual heat removal from reactors and spent fuel ponds, as well as cooling emergency diesel generators, the IAEA said.

The reservoir's height is dropping by around 5 cm/hour. Water in the reservoir was at around 16.4 m at 8 am. If drops below 12.7 m then it can no longer be pumped, the IAEA said.

The main alternative source of cooling water is a large pond next to the site, which could provide sufficient water for cooling for some months.

On Oct. 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree to transfer the plant under the control of Rosenergoatom. Ukraine described this decree as illegal and called on Western countries to impose sanctions against Rosatom for the action.

The war in Ukraine has led to the shutdown of Zaporizhzhia, which was occupied by Russian troops in March 2022. The 6-GW plant comprises six reactors. It has repeatedly lost access to external power since the war began, relying on backup diesel generators for power.

Rosatom said that the attack will not affect operations at Zaporizhzhia, and the situation is under control, in social media posts June 6.

Rosatom said that at the time of the accident, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was out of operation, with five reactors in cold shutdown and one Zaporizhzhia-5 in hot shutdown.

ArcelorMittal's Kryviy Rih steelworks, along with other water consumers in the region will be subject to voluntary and enforced cuts in water usage, with supply to the population prioritized.

The war has already significantly affected the plant, slashing its metal and steel output by 80%-90%.