Ukraine: Fire breaks out at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
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World leaders have accused Russia of “endangering the safety of an entire continent” as one of Ukraine’s key nuclear power plants based in Zaporizhzhya was shelled by Russian troops last night. This is the second nuclear plant to be seized after troops commandeered the area around Chernobyl last week, heightening radiation levels for a period of time in the exclusion zone.
Russia’s defence ministry blamed the Zaporizhzhya attack on Ukrainian saboteurs, calling it a “monstrous provocation”, although no evidence of this has been provided.
The shelling caused a fire to break out in one of the training buildings of the power plant but it was quickly extinguished.
Although the plant is now said to be safe, officials remain worried about the precarious circumstances as Ukrainian staff at the plant are now operating under “control of the Russian Federation” in battlefield conditions, beyond the reach of administrators.
Second to France, Ukraine generates the highest amount of power from nuclear energy in Europe, with 15 reactors generating around half of the country’s electricity. However, this proliferation of nuclear sites can present serious risk during conflicts.
Ukraine has four nuclear power plants scattered across the country and one decommissioned site, Chernobyl, where an event described as the “worst nuclear disaster in history” took place in 1986.
Rivne nuclear power plant
Rivne, also known as Rovno, is based in the northwest of Ukraine іn the vicinity of Styr river.
The plant has been operating since 1981 and has four nuclear reactor units.
Khmelnystki nuclear power plant
Khmelnystki nuclear power plant houses two reactors and is based in Netishyn, Khmelnytskyi, southwest of the country’s capital Kyiv.
This plant has been operating since 1987 and is part of the ‘Ukraine-European Union Power Bridge’ project, aimed at developing cross-border transmission networks between Ukraine and countries in the European Union.
South Ukraine nuclear power plant
South Ukraine nuclear power plant is part of the South Ukrainian Energy Complex.
The plant has three pressurised water reactors and is the second-largest power plant in Ukraine.
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Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station
Zaporizhzhya houses the biggest nuclear power station in Europe, operating six reactor units. It accounts for one-fifth of the average annual electricity production in Ukraine.
The power plant is located in the south of Ukraine on the bank of the Kakhovka water reservoir, east of Kherson – an important port just off the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian state nuclear company reported three Ukrainian troops to have been killed in the blast last night.
The site now appears to be safe, as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossis, said: “All the safety systems of the six reactors at the plant were not affected at all and there has been no release of radioactive material,” although the situation remains unstable.
The Ukrainian state inspectorate for nuclear regulation said in a statement on its Facebook page the plant had been “captured by the military forces of the Russian Federation”.
However, it added that employees were continuing to work on the premises.
Russian troops have surrounded at least five cities in the south and east over the past week, and US officials say it’s possible they could encircle Kyiv within a few days.
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