According to the post, power was lost at 11:22 local time Wednesday morning. Emergency diesel generators are providing power to critical safety systems at the site. The generators have enough fuel for 48 hours, and repair to the transmission lines is made impossible by continued combat operations in the area.
Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists says the 20,000 spent fuel rods are 20 years old. They do put out heat, and over time the water in the pool could start to evaporate. If the top of the fuel rods becomes exposed, that would be a potential local radiation hazard.
However, Lyman believes it would take many days after the loss of emergency power for that to happen. Also, the simple solution is to keep refilling the pool, say with firehoses or some other method.
“It’s inching towards a crisis, but there’s time to intervene,” Lyman said. “It’s a troubling development.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency warned Tuesday that it was increasingly concerned about the deteriorating situation at Chernobyl.
It said 210 technical personnel and guards at the site have been forced to work there for 13 days straight (that’s two weeks as of Wednesday). It also reported that it had lost radiation monitoring data from the site.
A version of this story first appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.