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Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority

The Ukranian situation

DSA is continuing to follow the situation in Ukraine closely. We are now especially following the situation at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

Last updated: 01. november 2022 09:19


If there were to be a release of radioactivity in Ukraine, the consequences for Norway would be limited due to the distance between the countries.

Even with a large discharge in Ukraine, with the wind blowing towards Norway, it would mainly lead only to measures in Norwegian food production.

What if there were a nuclear accident in Ukraine?

If there should be a release of radioactivity in Ukraine, and the wind were blowing towards Norway, it would not lead to an acute danger for people in Norway. The distance is so great that the release would be greatly dispersed before it gets here.

A release at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant could reach parts of Norway within 16 hours if there were strong winds towards Norway. With normal strength winds blowing in the direction of Norway, it is likely that the release would reach us within one to two days.

Norwegians abroad must follow advice from national authorities.

Norway has good nuclear preparedness and we are well prepared should there be a release of radioactivity in Ukraine or elsewhere. We learned a lot after the Chernobyl accident and have good experience with several measures.

If the wind blows towards Norway, it could lead to foodstuffs in parts of Norway being contaminated. To ensure that food is safe, it may be appropriate to introduce measures such as keeping animals that produce milk indoors and changing the harvest time for vegetables.

It would not be necessary to take iodine tablets when the radioactive cloud passes. Children and adults can be outdoors in Norway because the concentration of any radioactive substances in the air would be low. Radioactive substances in the air are gradually dispersed and diluted. Radioactivity that falls to the ground, on the other hand, could remain for a long time, as we experienced after Chernobyl.

To prevent children from ingesting radioactivity from fallout if there were a release, DSA recommends that sandpits in affected areas of Norway are covered with a tarpaulin, which is then disposed of with the household waste.

It may also be relevant to give dietary advice. Dietary advice applies to food and drink that is not controlled by the authorities, such as fruit and vegetables from your own garden and private water supplies. The dietary advice could also apply to foodstuffs that easily absorb radioactive substances, such as reindeer, game, freshwater fish, mushrooms and berries.

Dirty bomb

A dirty bomb is a type of radiological weapon in which radioactive  material is dispersed using conventional explosives. When dirty bombs are detonated, damage arises primarily as a result of the conventional explosives and by causing fear and stress among those near the explosion site, and to a lesser extent, as a result of the radiation doses arising from the radioactive material.

It is difficult to estimate the consequences of dirty bombs. Such situations usually involve great uncertainty, and post-detonation clean-up and possible decontamination can require significant resources. In heavily populated areas, the dispersion of even relatively modest amounts of radioactive material can require significant resources for dose assessment and the extent of personal contamination, as well as necessary medical follow-up.

The greatest consequences are nevertheless considered to be the psychological stress and the public unrest such an event may cause. Even threats of such actions can cause public unease .

Nuclear power plants in Ukraine

Ukraine has four nuclear power plants (NPPs) with a total of 15 reactors. Rivne NPP has four reactors, Khmelnytskyi NPP has two reactors, South Ukraine NPP has three reactors and Zaporizhzhya NPP has six reactors.

Information on the status of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine can be found on the website of the Nuclear Safety Authority of Ukraine (SNRIU).

Norwegian nuclear preparedness

DSA is a national and international contact point for Norway, and will be notified immediately if an incident occurs.

Norway has notification agreements for nuclear incidents with several countries, with the European Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

We have good monitoring systems that will detect any radioactive pollution in Norway, and we can read measurement data from other European countries that participate in the European Commission's data exchange.

DSA has good contact with the Ukrainian authorities and the IAEA.

If a release occurs, the Norwegian authorities will give advice to the population via their own channels, the Norwegian media and social media.

Norwegian support for nuclear safety and security in Ukraine

DSA has cooperated with the Ukrainian Radiation Protection Authority for several years. As a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine, two new projects have been started. One project concerns investigation of radioactive contamination in the region around Chornobyl after the Russian occupation of the facility, as the movement of Russian military vehicles may have led to a significant increase in radioactive contamination in the region. DSA is contributing by providing professional expertise and two radiation monitors. In the second project, DSA is assisting in preparing regulatory documents that are important for the clean-up at Chornobyl after the Russian occupation of the area.

Norway has also for several years collaborated with Ukraine on nuclear security and safety at the nuclear power plants and with the border control authorities. As a result, we were able to quickly contribute with supplies of equipment when the war broke out. Norway has, among other things, delivered technical equipment to the Rivne NPP and radio communications equipment to the border control authority. We also contribute by providing equipment to replace that which was either stolen or destroyed during the occupation of the Chernobyl plant.