Early Friday, Russia’s constant shelling hit Europe’s largest nuclear power station, causing a fire and stoking fears of a calamity, which could affect all of central Europe.
Concerns dissipated after Ukrainian authorities declared that the fire had been put out and that, while the reactor compartment had been damaged, the unit’s safety had not been jeopardised.
Despite the fact that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station is designed differently than Chernobyl and is fire-resistant, nuclear safety experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that fighting in and around such installations poses significant risks.
Russian forces advanced into the areas near Zaporizhzhia and stormed the nearby city of Enerhodar late Thursday to open a passage to the facility after conquering the vital port city of Kherson.
The cause of the power plant’s destruction was not immediately known, but Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov stated a Russian military column had been spotted going toward the nuclear complex and that loud rounds had been heard throughout the city.
Ukraine’s government announced later Friday that Russia has assumed control of the nuclear power plant.
Risks of Nuclear calamity
The six reactors at the power facility are still operational, albeit the compartment auxiliary facilities for reactor unit 1 have been damaged, according to the SNRI. Four of the remaining units are being cooled and one is generating power.
One major issue expressed by Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator is that if the nuclear plant’s power supply is disrupted, it will be forced to use less-reliable diesel generators to provide emergency power to the operational cooling systems. A failure of those systems might result in a tragedy on a massive scale.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the consequences would be widespread and disastrous.
“If there is an explosion, that’s the end for everyone. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe,” he said. “Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops. Do not allow the death of Europe from a catastrophe at a nuclear power station.” the Ukrainian President said in an emotional speech urging the world leaders to step up to Russia.