Zaporizhzhia: Fears about nuclear security after shelling at Ukrainian power plant

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Then, on Friday, explosions occurred at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Complex, the largest of its kind in Europe, raising fears of potential disaster.

Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling the plant, which was taken over by Russian forces in early March along with the city of Enerhodar, where the complex is located.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Moscow for the attack, calling the attacks a “merciless crime” and an “act of terror”.

“Today, the occupiers create another extremely risky situation for everyone in Europe,” he said in his Friday night address.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied the claim, saying Ukrainians had carried out three artillery attacks on the plant and the surrounding area. The ministry said the production capacity of one unit at the plant has been reduced, and the power supply has been cut in the other.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen from afar on Thursday.

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power operator, Energoatom, accused the Russian military of hitting the Zaporizhzhya plant and using the complex as a staging ground to attack nearby targets, including several occupied cities of Enerhodar and The nearby Ukrainian-controlled city of Nikopol is included.

When fierce fighting first broke out near the facility in the early days of the war, it sparked fears of a nuclear incident and condemnation from the international community.

Russian soldiers forced their managers To work “at gunpoint” After the capture of the plant on March 5, according to Ukrainian nuclear authorities. A week later, the Kremlin sent officials and technicians from Russia’s state nuclear agency to help repair and manage the facility.

Ukrainian and Russian employees have been working with each other since then, and communication with the outside world has been intermittent.

Energoatom said on Friday that Russian shelling had struck in and around the nuclear complex and damaged water intake facilities, cutting off power and water to much of Enerhodar.

“Three hits were recorded directly at the site of the station,” the Ukrainian agency said, claiming that one was “near one of the power units where the nuclear reactor is located.”

CNN was unable to verify damage claims at the plant, which is at a large site. Recent Russian fires in the area originated near the plant and it is not clear whether parts of the nuclear facility were accidentally struck.

Energoatom said on Saturday that the plant is operational and that Ukrainian staff at the station continue to work to ensure radiation safety.

Ukrainian prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident.

Zaporizhzhia plant ‘out of control’

The actual threat from the explosions in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is unclear.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said in an interview: The Associated Press Plant status on Tuesday Was “completely out of control”.

“Every principle of nuclear security has been violated,” he said, calling on Russia and Ukraine to allow experts to visit the site. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely serious and dangerous.”

Other authorities have been more measured, pointing to the fact that more recently nuclear power facilities have been designed to withstand terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

Big relief from Ukraine's grain exports, but the food crisis isn't going anywhereBig relief from Ukraine's grain exports, but the food crisis isn't going anywhere

Many Western and Ukrainian officials believe that Russia is now using the huge nuclear facility as a fortress to defend its troops and stage attacks, as they believe Kyiv will retaliate. will not and will not take the risk of trouble.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday accused Moscow of using the plant to shield its forces and Ukraine warned that shelling at the compound could be disastrous.

“The potential consequences of killing an operating reactor are comparable to the use of an atomic bomb,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on twitter on friday

The United Kingdom has stated that the action on the premises undermined the safety of the operation of the plant.

“Russian forces may have used extensive facility areas, particularly in the nearby town of Enerhodar, to rest their forces, using the protected position of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk from overnight Ukrainian attacks to their equipment and personnel. For doing it less,” UK Defense Ministry said In an intelligence update on Twitter on Friday.

The Ukrainian mayor of Enerhodar, Dmitro Orlov, said in late July that Russian forces were seen using heavy weapons near the plant because “they are well aware that the Ukrainian armed forces will not respond to these attacks, because They can damage nuclear power plants.”

CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Lauren Kent, Yulia Kesaeva and Petro Zadorozny contributed to this report.

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