On February 3, 2017, the NRC issued Indian Point a Green finding for a violation of Appendix B to 10 CFR Part 50. Specifically, the owner failed to perform an adequate operability review per its procedures after workers discovered water leaking from a service water system pipe.
On April 27, 2016, workers found water leaking from the pipe downstream of the strainer for service water (SW) pump 31. As shown in Figure 1, SW pump 31 is one of six service water pumps located within the intake structure alongside the Hudson River. The six SW pumps are arranged in two sets of three pumps. Figure 1 shows SW pumps 31, 32, and 33 aligned to provide water drawn from the Hudson River to essential (i.e, safety and emergency) components within Unit 3. SW pumps 34, 35, and 36 are aligned to provide cooling water to non-essential equipment within Unit 3.
Fig. 1 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)
Each SW pump is designed to deliver 6,000 gallons of flow. During normal operation, one SW pump can handle the essential loads while two SW pumps are needed for the non-essential loads. Under accident conditions, two SW pumps are needed to cool the essential equipment. The onsite emergency diesel generators can power either of the sets of three pumps, but not both simultaneously. If the set of SW pumps aligned to the essential equipment aren’t getting the job done, workers can open/close valves and electrical breakers to reconfigure the second set of three SW pumps to the essential equipment loops.
Because river water can have stuff in it that could clog some of the coolers for essential equipment, each SW pump has a strainer that attempts to remove as much debris as possible from the water. The leak discovered on April 27, 2016, was in the piping between the discharge check valve for SW pump 31 and its strainer. An arrow points to this piping section in Figure 1. The strainers were installed in openings called pits in the thick concrete floor of the intake structure. Water from the leaking pipe flowed into the pit housing the strainer for SW pump 31.
The initial leak rate was modest—estimated to be about one-eighth of a gallon per minute. The leak was similar to other pinhole leaks that had occurred in the concrete-lined, carbon steel SW pipes. The owner began daily checks on the leakage and prepared an operability determination. Basically, “operability determinations” are used within the nuclear industry when safety equipment is found to be impaired or degraded. The operability determination for the service water pipe leak concluded that the impairment did not prevent the SW pumps from fulfilling their required safety function. The operability determination relied on a sump pump located at the bottom of the strainer pit transferring the leaking water out of the pit before the water flooded and submerged safety components.
The daily checks instituted by the owner included workers recording the leak rate and assessing whether it had significantly increased. But the checks were against the previous day’s leak rate rather than the initial leak rate. By September 18, 2016, the leakage had steadily increased by a factor of 64 to 8 gallons per minute. But the daily incremental increases were small enough that they kept workers from finding the overall increase to be significant.
The daily check on October 15, 2016, found the pump room flooded to a depth of several inches. The leak rate was now estimated to be 20 gallons per minute. And the floor drain in the strainer pit was clogged (ironic, huh?) impairing the ability of its sump pump to remove the water. Workers placed temporary sump pumps in the room to remove the flood water and cope with the insignificantly higher leak rate. On October 17, workers installed a clamp on the pipe that reduced the leakage to less than one gallon per minute.
The operability determination was revised in response to concerns expressed by the NRC inspectors. The NRC inspectors were not satisfied by the revised operability determination. It continued to rely on the strainer pit sump pump removing the leaking water. But that sump pump was not powered from the emergency diesel generator and thus would not remove water should offsite power become unavailable. Step 5.6.4 of procedure EN-OP-14, “Operability Determination Process,” stated “If the Operability is based on the use or availability of other equipment, it must be verified that the equipment is capable of performing the function utilized in the evaluation.”
The NRC inspectors found additional deficiencies in the revised operability determination. The NRC inspectors calculated that a 20 gallon per minute leak rate coupled with an unavailable strainer pit sump pump would flood the room to a depth of three feet in three hours. There are no flood alarms in the room and the daily checks might not detect flooding until the level rose to three feet. At that level, water would submerge and potentially disable the vacuum breakers for the SW pumps. Proper vacuum breaker operation could be needed to successfully restart the SW pumps.
The NRC inspects calculated that the 20 gallon per minute leak rate without remediation would completely fill the room in about 29 hours, or only slightly longer than the daily check interval.
Flooding to depths of 3 feet, 10 feet, and the room’s ceiling affected all six SW pumps. Thus, the flooding represented a common mode threat that could disable the entire service water system. In turn, all safety equipment shown in Figure 2 no longer cooled by the disabled service water system could also be disabled. The NRC estimated that the flooding risk was about 5×10-6 per reactor year, solidly in the Green finding band.
Fig. 2 (Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Plant Information Book) (click to enlarge)
“Leak before break” is a longstanding nuclear safety philosophy. Books have been written about it (well, at least one report has been written and may even have been read.) The NRC’s approval of a leak before break analysis can allow the owner of an existing nuclear power reactor to remove pipe whip restraints and jet impingement barriers. Such hardware guarded against the sudden rupture of a pipe filled with high pressure fluid from damaging safety equipment in the area. The leak before break analyses can provide the NRC with sufficient confidence that piping degradation will be detected by observed leakage with remedial actions taken before the pipe fails catastrophically. More than a decade ago, the NRC issued a Knowledge Management document on the leak before break philosophy and acceptable methods of analyzing, monitoring, and responding to piping degradation.
This incident at Indian Point illustrated an equally longstanding nuclear safety practice of “leak before break.” In this case, the leak was indeed followed by a break. But the break was not the failure of the piping but failure of the owner to comply with federal safety regulations. Pipe breaks are bad. Regulation breaks are bad. Deciding which is worse is like trying to decide which eye one wants to be poked in. None is far better than either.
As with the prior Columbia Generating Station case study, this Indian Point case study illustrates the vital role that NRC’s enforcement efforts plays in nuclear safety. Even after NRC inspectors voiced clear concerns about the improperly evaluated service water system pipe leak, Entergy failed to properly evaluate the situation, thus violating federal safety regulations. To be fair to Entergy, the company was probably doing its best, but in recent years, Entergy’s best has been far below nuclear industry average performance levels.
‘We’ve to be constantly on our guard, but the fact that there is so much civil strife and civil-military dissonance [in Pakistan], it is an additional factor for us to take into account as we evaluate our own internal and external security threats,’ says former diplomat T.C.A. Raghavan in an interview with Karan Thapar.
As Pakistan undergoes a crisis, with the military going full throttle against former prime minister Imran Khan, what should India watch out for in such a scenario? On May 22, Karan Thapar spoke to former High Commissioner to Islamabad T.C.A. Raghavan to discuss how concerned India should be when our neighbour, a nuclear power, is going through constitutional, political and economic crises.
With Pakistan locked in an ever-increasing, widening and deepening web of crises – constitutional, political and economic – we ask how concerned should we in India be.
To answer that key question, we have one of our foremost experts in Pakistan – former High Commissioner to Islamabad and former Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs, T.C.A. Raghavan.
Let me repeat that essential question.
With Pakistan caught in a deepening and worsening web of crisis – constitutional, political, and economic – and additionally, with terrorism becoming an increasing problem, how concerned should we be in India?
Thank you for inviting me to your show. Evidently, because of the long adversarial nature of our relationship with Pakistan, we have to be very concerned about whatever is happening over there, and certainly, it goes without saying we have to be on our guard so that spillover developments from that internal churn do not impact us adversely. So yes, I would say we need to be certainly on top of all the developments in Afghanistan and very very watchful about the possible impact on us.
Let me quote to you what Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. has told the BBC just a couple of days ago. He says and I’m quoting him, “When your rightful neighbour, a nation that volatile even at the best of times, is experiencing severe political stress, bouts of large-scale unrest, and especially concerns about the cohesiveness of the army leadership, then you should be worried.” Would you go as strong as that we need to be worried in India, and not just concerned?
I would agree. I think that given the state, or the intensity, of the situation in Pakistan, there is every reason for us to be worried and that worry can have different dimensions because contrary to the view of some who think that chronic instability in Pakistan is something which serves our interest, I am in agreement with those [who believe] that such chronic instability is not good in terms of our national interests.
So certainly, given the fact that we know more this time, or we have heard more this time about the possible rifts in the army, about the extent of political polarisation, about the severe civil-military differences which have cropped up, there is every cause for us to not just be concerned but also worry.
Let’s discuss a couple of scenarios that could develop [in such a scenario]. Firstly, with the Pakistan Army distracted by its enormous troubles at home, is it likely that it could take its eyes off terrorist groups like the LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and the Jaish [Jaish-e-Mohammed], who in turn, sensing the opportunity, could step up the anti-Indian activity. Is that a credible fear at the moment?
To be realistic that fear has always existed with Pakistan because whatever might be one’s opinion of the Pakistan military, the fact is they are not effective in controlling the structures which they create, and that applies both to the politicians who grow rogue and also to terrorist outfits. So that threat of terrorist attack either with or without the complicity of the Pakistan military has always been there, and will certainly continue to be there. Given the chaos in Pakistan, does that [the threat] go up by a few notches? Possibly, it does.
When you say ‘go up by a few notches’ and ‘possibly’, does that mean it’s gone up fairly considerably or just marginally?
It’s very difficult to make that evaluation. I don’t think we can be in a position where we can relax a bit because Pakistan is fully stable, or there is a harmonious situation prevailing within it. We need to be more concerned because of [Pakistan’s] internal turmoil.
We have to be constantly on our guard, but the fact that there is so much civil strife and civil-military dissonance [in Pakistan], it is an additional factor for us to take into account as we evaluate our own internal and external security threats.
At this point, let me ask you a specific question in connection with the issue that we are discussing. Are you worried about the G20 meeting in Srinagar, which begins today (May 22) and will continue till May 24. Could that G20 meeting in Srinagar provide a tempting target for terrorists, who, as you know, have already stepped up their activity, fairly worryingly in the recent weeks, in the Poonch-Rajouri area. I know Srinagar is not quite there, but it [the G20 meeting] is a tempting target. Should it be concerned?
Certainly, high-profile events in Jammu and Kashmir, or for that matter elsewhere in India, do create a window of opportunity for terrorists, who want publicity, in terms of attacks, [who] time those certain times for maximum impact. So yes, I would say the G20 meeting adds to the overall security threats that we confront.
Was it wise to hold the meeting or was this something that we have to do and bite the bullet and get on with it?
I would say that it is a call which the government has to take. Certainly, we cannot be deterred by the possible threats of terrorist attacks from embarking on something which we want to do. I think to do so would be a cop-out and would not be in the traditions of Indian governance.
This question, for instance, came up in the past, once, at the inauguration of the Srinagar–Muzaffarabad Bus, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had gone there to inaugurate the bus. And [back then, too] there were major terrorist attacks. And, there was the view that this was in a way providing a target. But the fact is, you wanted to do it because you felt that was the direction to take. So you cannot let terrorist attacks or the fear of terrorist attacks deter you from embarking on a course of action you have decided.
Let me put a second scenario that could develop as a result of the critical confusion in Pakistan. As Pakistan Army’s image and standing within the country gets steadily weaker, do you think there’s a possibility it might seek to assert control by signalling strengths on the Kashmir front, leading to either an increase in cross-border activity, or even a breakdown of the ceasefire on the LoC [Line of Control], which has held fairly remarkably well over the last two years?
But that factor is always there at a time of civil-military strife. Or when the image of the Pakistan Army is dented, that is a general consideration. It is always there. But that’s not to say that the general consideration is always valid. We don’t have to embark on the root of the self-fulfilling prophecy that this is something inevitably which is going to happen because logically it appears so. I do think that while there may be greater dissonance in the Pakistan military today than there has been in the past, but there will also be a larger awareness in the higher command of the military as to is it in their overall interest to create a situation with India by stepping away from the ceasefire or by any other steps. I think, possibly, there will be enough people within the Pakistan military who feel that would not be in their overall interests.
So, you are not as concerned about the second scenario as you were [concerned] about the first. Have I understood that correctly?
I’m generally concerned. Because you cannot rule out any particular scenario. I’m just cautious about going down, as I said, the root of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and imagining or thinking that the worst is about to happen, or has happened. It’s good to be prepared for different situations but not necessarily act as if the worst case scenarios are upon you.
Let me at this stage slightly widen our discussion. We are talking about an increasing, widening, and a deepening web of crises in Pakistan, but I define them, initially, as constitutional, political, and economic. I want to now raise a possibility of a developing crisis, but I am not sure if it’s a full-fledged crisis, within the Pakistan army. Doubts are emerging that General Munir, the Army Chief, may not be fully in control. Why people have these doubts is because after Lieutenant General [Salman Fayyaz] Ghani was sacked as Corps Commander on May 9 and 10, websites in Pakistan, not foreign websites, showed two different generals as his successor.
Lieutenant General Fayyaz Hussian Shah was being shown as the first successor, but over the last three to four days, Lieutenant General Syed Aamer Raza was being shown as the successor. This means that in course of 13 to 14 days, the Lahore Corps Commander has changed three times.
Does this indicate that there is tension within the higher ranks of the army and that General Munir, the army chief, has no control over it? [Does this mean] he perhaps doesn’t have the full loyalty of his generals. Secondly, if those doubts are credible, how worrying are they, how much more do they add to this mix of crises in the country?
These rumours about the Lahore Corps Commander have been there for the past week or so. I don’t think anyone really knows what is happening. As you pointed out that most of this information is coming from Pakistani journalists themselves, to some extent events playing out in Pakistan have greater transparency today than they have ever had before, but we still certainly don’t know what is the situation regarding the Lahore Corps Commander.
It’s also a fact that the current chief, who has been in this position only since November-end, has not had the time to stamp his authority on the higher command. Usually, that happens in Pakistan when he has been able to reshuffle the senior generals and get a team of his choice in place. That has not happened so far and it was expected that would happen by September-October, but the crisis developed and matured before that.
So yes, there is this question, whether the Pakistan Army Chief is fully in control. What does that mean? Are there serious rifts in the higher command? At the same time, my own feeling is that the Pakistan army remains a disciplined formation.
The army chief is certainly conscious of the fact that he has to put the full weight of his authority behind what he is doing, which is why he has been touring, quiet feverishly, different core headquarters over the past three or four days. So far, apart from the sacking of the Lahore Core Commander, there is uncertainty about who has been appointed in his place.
There is no other significant sign which suggests deep rifts or further rifts. My sense is that the higher command will rally around him, and certainly, the torching of the Core Commander’s house in Lahore has acted to consolidate the opinion within the military behind the chief to some extent at least. I think that the kind of noises that were emerging from ex-servicemen and former retired officers, those have gone down by quite a few steps. So overall, I think we see a situation where the command is going to hold together, but these are uncertain times for Pakistan and nobody is entirely sure.
Two quick questions, am I right in saying that this is the first time after literally decades that the authority of the Army Chief of the Pakistan army seems to be in question? And that hasn’t happened for a very long time. Secondly, do you believe that there are fissures between jawans and lower rank officers and the top generals over the issue of Imran [Khan] and is that is another weakening element for the army?
You are right. These kinds of fissures have erupted after some time, primarily, because the transition from one chief to another was in itself quite a messy affair, but it’s not as if these fissures are totally unknown, or we have to go deep into Pakistan’s history to look up for them. They have happened before, especially, during the times of civil-military imbalance or civil-military dissonance.
Musharraf, for instance, was sacked when he was returning to Pakistan, and someone else was appointed as Army Chief. Then there was a coup. There have been cases like this. General Munir was removed as DG ISI after only a few months in the post.
The present situation is unsual, but it’s not unprecedented.
On the question of fissures going down to the jawan level and to the junior officer level, to my knowledge, we have heard less about that. The real signs of dissonance have come from retired officers, colonels, brigadiers, a few general officers, and particularly, the signs of dissonance have come from the families of serving senior officers. Imran Khan has a wide appeal; he has almost a cult-like status. But it’s also an appeal which is spearheaded by the middle class which is dissatisfied with the old style of politics and they want change quickly and they think that Imran Khan can deliver that change.
We hear less about peasants’ commitment to his movement. That is the constituency from which the rank and file are recruited.
So we hear less about that. I don’t see that as a major factor. Certainly, there is some dissonance from retired officers, serving officers, families – the upper crust of Pakistan’s society.
Do we ought to be concerned about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons? Could they fall into the wrong hands because of the turmoil in the country, and perhaps the tensions within the top brass of the army? Or is that an exaggerated fear?
I think that the key question is, is the higher command in the Pakistani army intact? If it is not intact, [then] we go into a totally uncharted domain. Right now there are signs which we should be monitoring. But I don’t think there is a serious possibility of the military command structure breaking into a number of factions.
The social unrest will have less of a direct impact on us. There are exaggerated fears about the economy totally imploding, and refugees coming into India. Those fears are exaggerated.
The chronology of the current crisis began with Imran Khan’s removal in a vote of confidence, followed by a major climatic crisis, in the form of floods, and some of the flooded areas were quite close to the Indian borders, especially from the Sindh, Rajasthan, sector.
Then there’s deep economic crisis. Pakistan’s currency has depreciated by 50% in about 11 months, but there are no signs that this has propelled the people to think of abandoning their homes and moving towards India.
There are some exaggerated noises to that effect in some circles in India. But certainly, social unrest in Pakistan is increasing. It’s possibly going to continue to increase. But the social unrest in Pakistan is not directly impacting us. So far, there is no sign that the state structures in Pakistan are imploding. I don’t see that happening.
There are some people in India who talk about Pakistan imploding, not just [in terms of] the economy but the politics of the country, and its integrity, its social cohesion. Is that a possibility? Or can it be better explained by saying this is an exaggerated schadenfreude on the part of the people in India, who don’t like Pakistan?
It’s an exaggerated fear, an exaggerated schadenfreude. If one looks at the past quarter century, Pakistan has had recurrent crises. This time, Pakistan was hit by three or four times with different kinds of crises. So therefore, the dramatic intensity has increased, and the magnitude has increased, but it’s not a new situation for Pakistan to be battling crises.
The schadenfreude is inevitable in India given the serial nature of our relationship, and the fact that so many terrorist attacks have been carried out against civilians. So it is inevitable, but I would say we will have to abandon schadenfreude, if there is a realistic threat of Pakistan cracking up, or extremists gaining the upper hand in the running of the country. Because this is a country with nuclear weapons. [This is a country] with whom you have a deeply adversarial history. So, the stability of that country is also a part of your national interest.
Let me ask you two more questions. Given everything we have discussed, as someone who understands Pakistan’s past better than most people, and I shall point out to the audience that you have had several tenures there. In addition to being the High Commissioner, you were also deputy High Commissioner, a few years before that, and you were also in charge of Pakistan in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a very long time.
Altogether, your knowledge of that country is probably unsurpassed. This leads to two questions. What should be the Indian government’s response to the problems across the border, given the possibility that they could deteriorate? So far, we have waited and watched. Is that the wisest course of action?
I would think so. Whenever Pakistan has gone through a domestic churn, our traditional postures have been to try to insulate ourselves from what is happening there. Don’t become a factor in that mess. By and large that appears to be the position now. I think it’s a wise position. It’s an entirely domestic situation.
There is very little way that any external power can do to control it. So even apart from India, none of Pakistan’s other external powers are in a position to control the current situation. It is something which Pakistan has to resolve for itself. So we should stay out of that domestic churn, insulate ourselves from it. And, wait and watch to see what happens.
My last question is, is there a case for offering economic assistance? For instance, [India offering] wheat or vegetables. Would that not enhance our standing in the South Asia region where we are very keen to be recognised as the leaders? And, secondly, our problem, surely, is with the government of Pakistan, and not with the people suffering there. Offering them economic assistance could build some body of support in that country that is more willing to be realistic towards India.
So is there a case for offering economic assistance to a neighbour whose countrymen were our countrymen 75 years ago?
Any such offers from India will not be seen as benign. Most Pakistanis would see it as Indians relishing the difficulties which Pakistanis are facing. So we should resist any such temptation. Whatever we could do is in any case going to be limited. And, given the intensity of events in Pakistan, we should refrain from any optical gestures, as I said, our policy in the past always was to try to insulate yourself from a domestic churn, don’t become a factor in it and its a wise policy and we should stick with it.
The wars the United States waged and fueled in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan following September 11, 2001 caused at least 4.5 million deaths, according to a report by Brown University.
Nearly a million of the people who lost their lives died in fighting, whereas some 3.6 to 3.7 million were indirect deaths, due to health and economic problems caused by the wars, such as diseases, malnutrition, and destruction of infrastructure.
These were the conclusions of a study conducted by the Cost of Wars project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
The report also analyzed the effects of wars in Libya and Somalia, which were sponsored by Washington.
The scholars estimated that, in the countries studied, there are still today 7.6 million children under age 5 who are suffering from acute malnutrition, meaning they are “not getting enough food, literally wasting to skin and bones, putting these children at greater risk of death”.
In Afghanistan and Yemen, this includes nearly 50% of children; and, in Somalia, close to 60%.
This 2021 report noted that “38 million is a very conservative estimate. The total displaced by the U.S. post-9/11 wars could be closer to 49—60 million, which would rival World War II displacement”.
The May 2023 study, which estimated that U.S. post-9/11 wars killed 4.5 to 4.6 million people, emphasized that large numbers of civilians are still perishing today, due of the lasting consequences of these violent conflicts.
Although the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, “today Afghans are suffering and dying from war-related causes at higher rates than ever”, the report noted.
In addition to the staggering death tolls, millions more civilians were wounded and suffered other incredible hardships due to these wars.
“For instance, for every person who dies of a waterborne disease because war destroyed their access to safe drinking water and waste treatment facilities, there are many more who sicken”, the study highlighted.
The 2023 report “highlights many longterm and underacknowledged consequences of war for human health, emphasizing that some groups, particularly women and children, suffer the brunt of these ongoing impacts”.
People living in poverty and those from marginalized groups had higher rates of death and lower life expectancies.
The document stressed how the “post-9/11 wars have caused widespread economic hardship for people in the war zones, and how poverty, in turn, has been accompanied by food insecurity and malnutrition, which have led to diseases and death, particularly amongst children under age five”.
In virtually all wars, indirect deaths represent the majority of the lives lost. The Brown University researchers pointed out, for example,
In conflict areas, children are 20 times more likely to die of diarrheal disease than from the conflict itself.
Damage to infrastructure that happens during wars is likewise very deadly. “Hospitals, clinics, and medical supplies, water and sanitation systems, electricity, roads and traffic signals, infrastructure for farming and shipping goods, and much more are destroyed, damaged and disrupted, with lasting consequences for human health”, the report noted.
Economic problems caused by these post-9/11 wars have been devastating.
Two decades of U.S.-NATO military occupation of Afghanistan left behind a borderline apocalyptic economic crisis.
More than half of Afghanistan’s population is in extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 per day. A staggering 95% of Afghans do not have enough food.
In Yemen, more than 17.4 million people are food insecure, and 85,000 children under age 5 have likely died from starvation.
Even in countries where large numbers of U.S. troops weren’t deployed on the ground, Washington’s wars have destroyed the lives of countless civilians.
U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia “significantly impact people’s livelihood sources”, killing workers, destroying farms and businesses, and bankrupting families.
“The severe impact of such economic setbacks on populations who depend on the land for their survival cannot be underestimated”, the report emphasized.
Washington’s so-called counter-terrorism laws in Somalia have also “hampered humanitarian relief efforts, intensifying the effects of famine”, the researchers noted.
Hundreds of thousands of children have died from famine in the East African nation.
The Brown University studies are part of a growing body of scholarship documenting the death tolls of post-9/11 U.S. wars.
IPPNW cautioned that this 2015 figure was “only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely”.
This is the seventh time that Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost electricity since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022. Emergency diesel generators were used at the plant in southern Ukraine to ensure that nuclear fuel was kept cool and to prevent a potential disaster
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, occupied by the Russian forces, was cut off briefly from the main electricity grid on Monday in the wake of the volatile situation arising out of constant bombardment.
Emergency diesel generators were used at the plant in southern Ukraine to ensure that nuclear fuel was kept cool and prevent a potential disaster.
The brief shutdown had cut off electricity to nearly 250,000 homes in the Zaporizhzhia region but that power had been restored to most of them, Ukrainian national grid operator Ukrenergo said
Power was also being restored to consumers in the Dnipropetrovsk region after overnight Russian air strikes, it added.
The nuclear plant, though under Russian occupation, is operated by Ukrainian engineers. According to reports, the generators have enough fuel to keep the critical cooling equipment running for 10 days.
This is the seventh time that Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost electricity since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
Both Russian and Ukraine sides accused each other of causing a potential nuclear disaster.
While a Russia-installed local official said that Ukraine disconnected a power line, Energoatom blamed the Russian shelling for the problem.
“Due to a high-tension line being cut, the plant lost its external electricity supply,” the Russian administration wrote on Telegram, adding the causes of the outage were being investigated and that backup diesel generators were keeping it working.
A few hours later, Energoatom said via the Telegram messaging app that it had restored external power and that the system was now running smoothly.
The loss of power again stoked tensions about a potential nuclear disaster at the plant, with the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency raising alarm over Monday’s incident.
Rafael Mariano Grossi said the outage made the situation at the plant “extremely vulnerable.”
Shelling in Zaporizhzhia has increased over the past few days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that his troops are preparing for a counteroffensive that could include the southern Ukraine region.
Grossi, who has been trying to win international backing for a demilitarized zone around the plant, said that fighting in the surrounding area increases the risks to the plant.
It’s been seismically active in the eastern half of the United States in recent days, with two earthquakes hitting New York, one in Ohio, one in Arkansas, and two in Tennessee. Even Canada got into the action, with an earthquake hitting in Ontario province north and west over the border from New York state’s latest quake. A large population has been rattled by these quakes, with hundreds of reports coming into USGS from people feeling shaking in Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
The first of the recent earthquakes struck just north of New York City on Friday morning. Hundreds of people used the USGS website and their “Did you feel it?” web reporting tool to report shaking they felt the early morning earthquake that struck the Hastings-on-Hudson area of New York, just outside of New York City and across the Hudson River from New Jersey. The relatively weak magnitude 2.2 event struck at 1:53 am this morning in Westchester County at a depth of 9.8 km. While there were no reports of damage, people used both social media and the USGS website to share their experiences. People across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut reported feeling the late-night earthquake.
According to USGS, earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0 or less are rarely felt or heard by people, but once they exceed 2.0, as this event did, more and more people can feel them. While damage is possible with magnitude 3.0 events or greater, significant damage and casualties usually don’t occur until the magnitude of a seismic event rises to a 5.5 or greater rated event.
According to the Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC), New York is a state with a very long history of earthquake activity that has touched all parts of the state. Since the first earthquake that was recorded in December 19, 1737, New York has had over 550 earthquakes centered within its state boundaries through 2016. It also has experienced strong ground shaking from earthquakes centered in nearby U.S. states and Canadian provinces. Most of the quakes in New York have taken place in the greater New York City area, in the Adirondack Mountains region, and in the western part of the state.
While many of the earthquakes to hit New York are weak like Friday’s, some have been damaging. Of the 551 earthquakes recorded between 1737 and 2016, 5 were considered “damaging”: 1737, 1929, 1944, 1983, and 2002.
While most of New York’s earthquakes have been in the Upstate, New York City has also seen damaging earthquakes over the years. At about 10:30 pm on December 18, 1737, an earthquake with an unknown epicenter hit New York with an estimated magnitude of 5.2. That quake damaged some chimneys in the city. On August 10, 1884, another 5.2 earthquake struck; this quake cracked chimneys and plaster, broke windows, and objects were thrown from shelves throughout not only New York City, but surrounding towns in New York and New Jersey too. The shaking from the 1884 earthquake was felt as far west as Toledo, Ohio and as far east as Penobscot Bay, Maine. It was also reported felt by some in Baltimore, Maryland.
While earthquakes around New York are common, the same isn’t true for Ohio. Nevertheless, an earthquake struck there on Friday evening too. According to USGS, a magnitude 2.6 earthquake struck outside of Toledo in northwestern Ohio at 8:17 pm. The Friday evening earthquake generated dozens of reports to USGS’s website and the “Did you feel it?” reporting tool they feature on it. Shaking was felt throughout the Toledo area as well as Perrysburg and Bowling Green, Ohio. The earthquake struck just south of Metcalf Field near Lake Township Hall from a depth of only 6.5 km. USGS says this is the first earthquake to strike within a radius of 250 km in the last three weeks.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio has deployed a seismic network with 21 seismograph stations throughout the state that continuously monitor and record earthquake activity. The Ohio Seismic Network (OhioSeis) went online in January 1999, ending a five-year gap during which there was only one operating station in Ohio. Ohio has 24/7 monitoring and coverage by seismic stations with automatic detection, location and magnitude determination.
Earthquake activity in Ohio is not common. The last earthquake hit on March 20 about 14 miles southwest of Gallipolis; it was a magnitude 2.3 event. On February 4, an even weaker magnitude 2.0 event struck near Athens. On January 23, an earthquake of the same magnitude, 2.0, struck near Fairport Harbor.
USGS says Ohio has experienced more than 160 felt earthquakes since 1776. Most of these events caused no damage or injuries. However, 15 Ohio earthquakes resulted in property damage and some minor injuries. The largest historic earthquake in the state occurred in 1937. The 1936 event had an estimated magnitude of 5.4 and caused considerable damage in the town of Anna and in several other western Ohio communities.
USGS reported two relatively weak earthquakes struck Tennessee in the last few days. The first struck western Tennessee near the Mississippi River at 1:23 am; the magnitude 2.3 event had a depth of 7.4 km. The second hit north and east of Knoxville in the central part of the state on Saturday afternoon; the magnitude 2.8 event hit near New Tazewell at 5:55 pm from a depth of 17.3 km.
Western Tennessee is located within the New Madrid Seismic Zone, an area famous for a catastrophic series of earthquakes in 1811-1812 that were centered near New Madrid County, Missouri. The New Madrid Seismic Zone is also known as NMSZ for short. The NMSZ extends 120 miles south from Charleston, Missouri, following Interstate 55 to near Marked Tree, Arkansas. The NMSZ consists of a series of large, ancient faults that are buried beneath thick, soft sediments. These faults cross five state lines, the Mississippi River in three places, and the Ohio River in two places.
Earthquakes like the one that occurred Saturday in the central part of Tennessee are unlikely associated with the New Madrid Seismic Zone. However, while USGS says western Tennessee has a higher frequency of damaging earthquake shaking, the risk isn’t that low in central and eastern Tennessee. In the area of today’s earthquake, USGS says its likely this area would see 50-100 damaging earthquakes over 10,000 years. While this number is low, it is much higher than it is elsewhere in the eastern half of the United States, where it’s likely to have 10 or less earthquakes over the same period.
While recent earthquakes in the NMSZ haven’t been very strong nor created any damage, the same wasn’t true for a series of earthquakes that struck during the winter of 1811-1812.
While the US West Coast is well known for its seismic faults and potent quakes, many aren’t aware that one of the largest quakes to strike the country actually occurred near the Mississippi River. On December 16, 1811, at roughly 2:15am, a powerful 8.1 quake rocked northeast Arkansas in what is now known as the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The earthquake was felt over much of the eastern United States, shaking people out of bed in places like New York City, Washington, DC, and Charleston, SC. The ground shook for an unbelievably long 1-3 minutes in areas hit hard by the quake, such as Nashville, TN and Louisville, KY. Ground movements were so violent near the epicenter that liquefaction of the ground was observed, with dirt and water thrown into the air by tens of feet. President James Madison and his wife Dolly felt the quake in the White House while church bells rang in Boston due to the shaking there.
But the quakes didn’t end there. From December 16, 1811 through to March of 1812, there were over 2,000 earthquakes reported in the central Midwest with 6,000-10,000 earthquakes located in the “Bootheel” of Missouri where the New Madid Seismic Zone is centered.
The second principal shock, a magnitude 7.8, occurred in Missouri weeks later on January 23, 1812, and the third, a 8.8, struck on February 7, 1812, along the Reelfoot fault in Missouri and Tennessee.
The main earthquakes and the intense aftershocks created significant damage and some loss of life, although lack of scientific tools and news gathering of that era weren’t able to capture the full magnitude of what had actually happened. Beyond shaking, the quakes also were responsible for triggering unusual natural phenomena in the area: earthquake lights, seismically heated water, and earthquake smog.
Residents in the Mississippi Valley reported they saw lights flashing from the ground. Scientists believe this phenomena was “seismoluminescence”; this light is generated when quartz crystals in the ground are squeezed. The “earthquake lights” were triggered during the primary quakes and strong aftershocks.
Water thrown up into the air from the ground, or the nearby Mississippi River, was also unusually warm. Scientists speculate that intense shaking and the resulting friction led to the water to heat, similar to the way a microwave oven stimulates molecules to shake and generate heat. Other scientists believe as the quartz crystals were squeezed, the light they emit also helped warm the water.
During the strong quakes, the skies turned so dark that residents claimed lit lamps didn’t help illuminate the area; they also said the air smelled bad and was hard to breathe. Scientists speculate this “earthquake smog” was caused by dust particles rising up from the surface, combining with the eruption of warm water molecules into the cold winter air. The result was a steamy, dusty cloud that cloaked the areas dealing with the quake.
The February 1812 earthquake was so intense that boaters on the Mississippi River reported that the flow of the water there reversed for several hours.
Arkansas also got in on the earthquake action in recent days. A very weak magnitude 1.6 event struck between Batesville and Jonesboro in the north-central part of the state on Thursday morning at 6:11 am; it had a depth of 7.2 km. Like the Tennessee quake, the Arkansas one wasn’t far from the NMSZ either.
While Thursday’s earthquake was relatively inconsequential, authorities are concerned that people aren’t properly prepared for when a big earthquake will strike this region. The matter of a larger destructive earthquake in this area is more of a matter of “when” rather than “if.”
Arkansas isn’t a stranger to earthquakes. According to the Arkansas Geological Survey, hundreds of earthquakes have been reported throughout the state over the last several hundred years, with records going as far back as 1699. While many are centered near the heart of the NMSZ closer to the Tennessee/Missouri border, there are also pockets of seismic activity near today’s earthquake across Sharp, Lawrence, and Randolph Counties as well as across the middle of the state north of Little Rock.
The area remains seismically active and scientists believe another strong quake will impact the region again at some point in the future. Unfortunately, the science isn’t mature enough to tell whether that threat will arrive next week or in 50 years. Either way, with the population of New Madrid Seismic Zone huge compared to the sparsely populated area of the early 1800s, and tens of millions more living in an area that would experience significant ground shaking, there could be a very significant loss of life and property when another major quake strikes here again in the future.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine last February, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly suggested that he could use nuclear weapons in the conflict. In September, the Russian leader declared that he wasn’t afraid to “use all the means available to us” to win the war.
“I’m not bluffing,” Putin added, in an unusually direct threat of nuclear use.
These declarations have at times been met with actions that imply Putin is preparing to launch tactical nukes. Just last month, the Kremlin announced that it planned to deploy such weapons in Belarus, placing them in close proximity to the front lines in Ukraine.
These nuclear threats have set off a torrent of debate over whether Putin would really cross the Rubicon and make Russia the second country to ever employ the ultimate weapon on the battlefield. Many analysts argue that the threatening moves are meant to deter deeper Western involvement in the conflict, though they disagree over whether and how to call the Russian leader’s bluff.
But Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan (ret.) sees things differently. For Ryan, the question is not a matter of if but when Putin will reach for the nuclear button. In a recent article for Russia Matters, the former U.S. defense attaché to Moscow argued that, with options for conventional escalation disappearing, the Kremlin is all but certain to resort to nuclear use.
RS spoke with Ryan, who is now a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, to learn more about why he believes Putin will use a tactical nuke against Ukraine and how the world should prepare for it. The following conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Responsible Statecraft: In a recent article for Russia Matters, you argued that Putin will use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Can you walk me through that argument a little bit?
Kevin Ryan: At its most basic level, when Ukraine mounts its counter offensive, if they have significant success in taking back territory that Russia has occupied — for example, large parts of any of the four provinces that Russia has annexed, or Crimea itself — then the Russian military will be expected to escalate their operations to prevent that or to counter that. Putin will demand that.
If the Russian military is not able to escalate or to prevent Ukraine from doing those things, Putin will have no other way of escalating the war militarily than through a nuclear weapon. His conventional military has basically shown itself to be incapable of escalating beyond what they’ve done, and his many bombing campaigns have not broken the Ukrainian people or their country. So I don’t know of any other weapon or capability that he could use in that war, and he will not allow the recapture of large parts of these annexed provinces or Crimea.
RS: One potential other path to escalation that comes to mind is a more full-scale mobilization of Russian troops, maybe a full-scale military draft. Do you think that just wouldn’t be fast enough for him to respond if Ukrainian troops were advancing on Crimea?
Ryan: I do think that it would take too much time. That’s number one. And number two is that he’s already mobilized 300,000 troops, and in doing that, he has not really created many new units. He has used those 300,000 troops primarily to backfill losses in existing units, and also to create a reserve pool of manpower that he can put into existing units if they are in a fight and lose more people.
So he really hasn’t shown the ability to create more combat power. When he mobilized 300,000 people, he created enough manpower to create a second army, but he’s been unable to actually do that because he doesn’t have enough tanks and material and so on.
RS: Right. This is a challenging situation because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious path to de-escalate. All signs seem to point toward escalation from both sides. Do you see any chance for de-escalation? Or do you think we are inevitably headed towards nuclear use at this point?
Ryan: Well, the point of the article was to say that, given what I know right now about the capabilities on the battlefield and the announced intentions of both sides, it seems like we’re on a track toward escalation. Escalation from a Ukrainian perspective means an offensive, and from a Russian perspective, the only way for them to really escalate is with a nuclear weapon. So, yeah, I think we’re on a path to that.
Now, I agree and I hope that there is opportunity for all sides, both sides or anyone to change their mind and to suddenly do something which is unexpected. Putin could say, “you know what, I’m willing to give up everything that we occupied.” It’s not likely, but he could do that.
Zelensky, more importantly, could say, “I don’t want to risk more lives of Ukrainian young men and women, and so I will agree to a ceasefire where we are now and begin negotiations on why we should get the land back and Russia should get out.” I don’t think that’s going to happen either, but those things are possible, right? Maybe a one percent chance.
RS: You argue in the piece that “[n]one of this is to say that we in the West should pressure Ukraine to forgo its goal to liberate all seized territory. But it does mean that we should anticipate a nuclear weapon will be used and develop our possible responses accordingly.” How should the West approach such a possibility?
Ryan: The first thing we need to do is to prepare for a nuclear battlefield. No one has ever fought a war on a battlefield where nuclear weapons are being used. In World War II, we fired nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then the war ended, so we didn’t really have to fight and maneuver and do things on a battlefield that had nuclear radiation, fallout, etc.
It’s been many, many years since the American military has practiced operating on a battlefield that has nuclear weapons being used. So that’s number one: We should be practicing more for a nuclear battlefield.
Number two is that we should be thinking ahead about what are the things you need both for the military people and more broadly for the civilian people who are impacted or affected by a nuclear blast. We do not have sufficient medical facilities and a backfill of bandages and medicines that are particular and special to nuclear injuries. We don’t have the right kinds of materials stored up and ready to use. Just like we’ve already seen, the intensity of this war has demanded levels of ammunition and material and manpower that were totally unexpected by the Russians or the Ukrainians. So the same would go for what we would find a day after a nuclear weapon exploded.
RS: Is it your assessment that, if Putin were to use a tactical nuclear weapon within Ukraine, that it would be possible to avoid full-scale escalation to nuclear war between the United States and Russia?
Ryan: Yes. It’s my opinion that that would be possible.
RS: And how do we ensure that that is possible?
Ryan: Well, the first step has already been taken by the current administration, which is to let Russia know that the United States does not plan to use a nuclear weapon in response to a nuclear weapon or to whatever Russia is doing in Ukraine. We’ve already made that clear to them. We’ve said that our reaction will include “catastrophic” steps, but at the same time, we have not told them that those include nuclear weapons. So that would be the first step to avoiding escalation, to diverting our response into some non-nuclear response.
A second step after a Russian tactical nuke goes off would be to choose not to increase our alert status for our strategic nuclear forces, which run the ICBMs and the long range bombers and so on. That would be another way to signal that we don’t want this to escalate into a global nuclear war. Those would be two steps we could do right away that would help prevent an escalation into a broader nuclear war.
RS: Is there any other advice that you would have for policymakers in dealing with this heightened threat?
Ryan: What I would say is that I make a provocative claim that, basically, the odds of a nuclear weapon being used in Ukraine are greater than 50 percent. That’s essentially my claim — that the odds of a nuclear weapon being used there are high. And so this is an urgent problem.
Everyone agrees it’s a serious problem. No one says this is not serious, that the nuclear threats are happening. But not everybody agrees or acts as if they think that it’s urgent. In other words, they think the odds are low that this would happen. But I say they’re high.
So let’s say that I’m saying they’re over 50 percent. Back after 9/11, when we were concerned that terrorists would get a nuclear weapon, [former Vice President] Dick Cheney was quoted as saying that we have a one percent doctrine. Ron Suskind wrote the book called “The One Percent Doctrine,” which basically says that if there’s even a one percent chance that a terrorist could get a nuclear weapon, we need to take that seriously, and we need to do something now to prevent it. They spent billions of dollars and thousands of man hours, and they rearranged the government and security establishment and intelligence establishment so they could go and work on that problem for a one percent chance that a nuclear weapon would be used. Now, I could be wrong about a 50 percent chance in Ukraine, but I think everybody would agree that there’s at least a one percent chance that Russia will use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, and they might even agree that it’s more than a one percent chance.
So what are we doing today that is anywhere close to the scale of the reaction of the U.S. government back in 2001 for that nuclear threat? We’re saying a lot of things, but we’re not doing enough, and that bothers me. And that should bother the American people and the American government. We should be doing something.
A special meeting of the corps commander was convened to deliberate on the horrendous events of May 9 when workers and leaders of PTI, reacting to the arrest of Imran Khan in a criminal case, attacked GHQ, Corp Commander House Lahore and other military installations. Not only did they condemn the attacks in the harshest possible terms but also decided to make an example out of those responsible for executing, planning and conceiving those acts of terrorism and trying all those responsible for this dastardly acts under the Army Act. The National Security Committee, in its meeting on 16th May, has also endorsed the deliberations of the Corp Commanders huddle besides deciding to observe May 9 as black day. It also emphasised the need to regulate the social media and showing zero tolerance to violence. The cabinet has also endorsed the foregoing decisions. Nobody in his right mind and imbued with love for the motherland can take an issue with these decisions.
Pakistan Army is the pride of the nation and a protector of the ideological and physical frontiers of the country. The nation is greatly indebted to the Armed forces for their sacrifices in ensuring existence of Pakistan as a sovereign entity and warding off the existential threats to its security both internal as well as external. In fact Pakistan Army is the actual red line for the nation.
Pakistan Army is the pride of the nation and a protector of the ideological and physical frontiers.
The attacks on military installations were attacks on the writ and integrity of the state. The pre-dominant public view is that it was war against Pakistan. Only the traitors and enemies of the country could indulge in such acts. The way these attacks were executed proved beyond any iota of doubt that that they were pre-planned and not a spontaneous reaction to arrest of Imran Khan. The audio leaks of PTI leaders have confirmed the authenticity of these claims. One is however amazed at the audacity of Imran who first expressed ignorance about the attacks before the court and after his release on bail has come up with the allegations that these attacks were carried by the agencies to find an excuse to ban PTI and convict him. That tells how devious the man is. What happened at Zaman Park when the police went to arrest him on the basis of an arrest warrant was a premonition for the things to follow. Imran Khan persistently fomented anti-Army rhetoric. The PTI social media mangers worked on it round the clock.There were already intelligence reports regarding presence of some terrorists at Zaman Park. The arrests made in the backdrop of these attacks indicate that more than nine hundred of them were foreign nationals having connection with a terrorist entity.
These incidents have not only made Pakistan a laughing stock for its enemies and ill-wishers but has also sent a very wrong message to the global community in regards to its ability to safeguard its nuclear assets. It is pertinent to point out that some countries have been persistently propagating that there was a danger of Pakistani nuclear assets falling in the hands of terrorists. Army has a key role in the Command and Control structure for the safety of our nuclear assets. If the Army headquarters and military installations are attacked it goes to strengthen that nefarious propaganda against Pakistan. What happened on May 9 is fraught with serious consequences.
Politics must be done and practiced in line with limits set by the constitution and laws of the land in this regard. Expressing dissent with the government policies and protesting against it is a democratic and constitutional right of the opposition and must be exercised within the permissible legal limits and in line with the internationally recognized norms of democracy. Violence has no place in politics. The politicians and leaders of the political parties need to understand that whatever they do or say has profound implications both good as well as bad depending on the nature of their messages and acts. The nation has witnessed several agitations and political movements during its 75 years history when the mob turned unruly and destroyed some public as well as private properties but neither any leader incited sentiments against Pakistan Army nor their followers ever thought of hitting the military targets in spite of the fact that the military dictators deposed elected governments four times.
The defence forces of Pakistan are viewed as saviours of the nation. Because the people know fully well that the Army was their first and last line of defence and to live as a sovereign nation it needed to be respected as an institution as well as strengthened to thwart designs of the enemies.
It is really regrettable to note that since the emergence of Imran Khan on the political landscape of Pakistan an element of violence has crept into politics. The ugliest manifestation was witnessed when during 126 days sit-in at Islamabad the supporters of Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri attached the parliament, TV station and the Prime Minister House while the two brothers standing on the container made victory signs. Imran used abusive language against senior police officers, threatened them of dire consequences. The SSP Islamabad was badly beaten with sticks. He incited people to civil disobedience and even asked them to refuse paying their taxes; surely anti-state fulminations.
During his three and half year power stint he pummeled all democratic norms, refused to develop working relationship with the opposition. His resorted to unprecedented political vendetta by implicating the opposition leaders in cases which were never proven in the courts of law and the High Courts and SC repeatedly observed that the government was using NAB for political engineering. He insulted the opposition leaders incessantly by hurling derogatory epithets on them. Those who brought him in power after witnessing his incompetence to rule and inability to deal with economic challenges withdrew their unqualified support for his government and decided to become apolitical. The opposition parties got their chance to depose him through a no-confidence motion, a constitutional way of regime change.
He was so incensed and confused after his removal that he started blaming USA, establishment and the PDM for the alleged conspiracy against him. Down the line he also blamed a number of other people. He kept shifting the targets. However in the end he started a tirade against General Bajwa holding him solely responsible for the regime change. Actually he was angry why the General did not help him in torpedoing the no-confidence motion. What he and his party has done to Pakistan is inexcusable.
The writer is a former diplomat and freelance columnist.