Russian forces are currently occupying Zaporizhzhia, a Ukrainian nuclear power plant that is Europe’s largest nuclear facility. The occupation came after the fire erupted in a training building at the nuclear power plant complex.
The blaze started amid heavy shelling by Russian troops in the area, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Fire Extinguished
In a statement, the emergency services agency said that the firefighters already controlled the blaze. In addition, there are no casualties reported during the fire. Ukrainian officials said that Russian troops opened fire at the plant, which set it ablaze.
“Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out,” tweeted Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba.
He added that if the plant explodes, the damages will be much worse than the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy. Zaporizhzhia holds six of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.
‘Stop Shelling The Nuclear Plant’
Meanwhile, Andriy Tuz, a Zaporizhzhia facility spokesperson, demanded that Russia stop shelling the plant. He said that firing at the nuclear plant brings a “real threat of nuclear danger”.
Speaking on local television, Tuz said that shells had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. Thankfully, the unit in question is under renovation.
However, it still contained nuclear fuel inside it. Firefighters were unable to access the area because Russian troops continued to shoot at them.
Later, the emergency services agency said that the fire occurred in a training building behind the plant.
Afterward, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that no “essential” equipment received damages. In addition, there were no changes in radiation levels in the area.
Zelensky Warns Of The End of Europe If Nuclear Power Plant Explodes
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with President Joe Biden and European leaders. He described in a Telegram post a potential “nuclear catastrophe” if the shellings continue. “If there is an explosion it is the end for all of us. The end of Europe,” he said.
In return, the White House urged Russia to refrain from military action in the vicinity of Zaporizhzhia. The US also appealed to Russia to allow firefighters and emergency responders access to the site.
Earlier, Mariano Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, expressed grave concern about the invasion of Ukraine.“It is the first time a military conflict is happening amidst the facilities of a large, established nuclear power program”.
Grossi called for “restraint from all measures or actions that could jeopardize” nuclear and other radioactive material. He added that “any such incident could have severe consequences, aggravating human suffering and causing environmental harm.”
Meanwhile, Edwin Lyman, nuclear power safety director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, expressed surprise that troops shelled Zaporizhzhia.
He said a fire that damages the nuclear plant’s electrical systems can potentially trigger a meltdown similar to Japan’s Fukushima reactor.
Lessons From Fukushima
Thankfully, modern nuclear power plants, including Ukraine’s, already addressed Fukushima’s vulnerabilities. The Zaporizhzhia reactors featured a different design.
It features a stronger containment structure and does not fuse graphite. An “accident sequence” likely wouldn’t “be as bad” as Chernobyl, Lyman said.
Watch the LiveNOW from Fox video reporting that Russia attacks Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear plant:
Why do you think Russian troops fired at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant? Was this part of Russia’s plan to defeat Ukraine? Or, was this a miscommunication on the part of troops?
Tell us what you think could have happened if the entire nuclear plant went up in flames. Share your comments below.