For months, international experts have been worried about “a large nuclear power plant on the banks of the Dnieper in southern Ukraine,” according to CNN.
“Then, on Friday, explosions rocked the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, reigniting fears of a potential disaster.”
Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of shelling the plant, which was captured by Russian troops in early March along with the city of Energodar, where the complex is located. CNN could not verify claims of damage to the plant, which occupies a large site. Most of the recent Russian fires in the area have started near the plant, and it is unclear whether parts of the nuclear facility were accidentally damaged… The Russian Defense Ministry added that the generating capacity of one unit at the plant had been reduced. , and the power supply of another section….
When fierce fighting broke out near the site in the early days of the war, it sparked fears of a nuclear incident and drew condemnation from the international community. According to Ukrainian nuclear officials, after seizing the plant on March 5, Russian troops forced its managers to work “at gunpoint.” A week later, the Kremlin dispatched officials and technicians from Russia’s state nuclear agency to help with repairs and management of the facility. Ukrainian and Russian personnel have been working together ever since, and communication with the outside world has been intermittent.
Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power operator Energoatom said on Friday that Russian shelling hit and surrounded the nuclear complex and damaged a water intake facility, cutting off electricity and water to much of Energodar. “Three hits were recorded directly on the site of the station,” the Ukrainian agency noted, claiming that one was “near one of the power units where the nuclear reactor is located…”.
On Saturday, “Energaatom” announced that the station is working, and Ukrainian personnel at the station continue to work to ensure radiation safety. The Ukrainian prosecutor’s office has started an investigation into the incident.
On Tuesday, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that the plant was “totally out of control”, adding that “every principle of nuclear safety has been violated… What is at stake is extremely serious, extremely serious and dangerous”. But CNN adds that “other officials were more measured, pointing out that recent nuclear power facilities are designed to withstand terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
“Several Western and Ukrainian officials believe that Russia is now using the giant nuclear facility as a fortress to protect its troops and stage attacks because they believe that Kyiv will not retaliate or risk a crisis.”