Plutonium’s Fatal Attraction

Antinuclear

In February 2022, on the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces took over the Chornobyl Zone of Alienation, an exclusion zone surrounding the plant created in the weeks after the Chornobyl accident. A month later, the Russian Army occupied the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, and since then, the plant has been repeatedly under fire. At the start of the invasion, the world seemingly received an education in nuclear power. News reporting illuminated that containment vessels protecting nuclear reactors had been stress-tested for tornadoes, tsunamis, and planes landing on them, but not for something so banal and human as a conventional war.

The public also came to understand that nuclear reactor complexes require a steady supply of electricity to keep running and to prevent overheating, and also that nuclear power plants hold years of highly-radioactive spent nuclear fuel—chock full of plutonium, among other harmful isotopes—which…

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