“Fire has already broke out,” said Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister. “If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl.”
Thursday, March 3, 2022
This is a developing story… Check back for possible updates…
Ukraine officials and news agencies Thursday night report that at least a section of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is on fire following shelling by Russian troops during an ongoing battle for control of the energy complex located in the eastern town of Enerhodar. Although according to the Washington Post the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog soon said the blaze had not affected “essential” equipment.
⚡️Russian forces are firing at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar, a city on the Dnipro River that accounts for about one-quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.
The city’s Mayor Dmytro Orlov said the plant is now on fire.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 4, 2022
According to the Associated Press:
Plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
Firefighters cannot get near the fire because they are being shot at, Tuz said.
A government official told The Associated Press that elevated levels of radiation were detected near the site of the plant, which provides about 25% of Ukraine’s power generation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been publicly released.
Tuz said it is urgent to stop the fighting to put out the flames.
In a tweet, Ukraine Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kulebo called on Russian forces to cease fire so that the flames could be extinguished by firefighters at the scene:
Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 4, 2022
The Guardian reports:
Ukrainian authorities later said that the site had been secured and the reactors were safe, and the IAEA said the fire had not affected “essential” equipment. However, the incident underlined the dangers of a nuclear plant in the midst of a conflict.
“Europe must wake up now,” Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a video statement. “The largest nuclear station in Europe is on fire. Right now Russian tanks are shelling nuclear units. Those are the tank that have thermal vision, so they know where they are shelling.”
Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear plant in all of Europe and experts have been warning for days that the risk of a nuclear disaster on par or larger than Fukushima or Chernobyl was a real risk amid the Russian invasion.
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