Parts of Europe’s Largest Nuclear Plant ‘Knocked Out’ By Russia-Ukraine Fighting

On Thursday the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director “warned that parts of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant had been knocked out due to recent attacks, risking an ‘unacceptable’ potential radiation leak,” according to CNN: “IAEA experts believe that there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety,” but “that could change at any moment,” Grossi said…. Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said 10 shells landed near the complex on Thursday, preventing a shift handover. “For the safety of nuclear workers, the buses with the personnel of the next shift were turned back to Enerhodar,” the agency said. “Until the situation finally normalizes, the workers of the previous shift will continue to work.”

Energoatom said radiation levels at the site remained normal, despite renewed attacks.

Several Western and Ukrainian officials believe that Russia is using the giant nuclear facility as a stronghold to shield their troops and mount attacks, because they assume Kyiv will not return fire and risk a crisis.

Later CNN added:
Ukraine and Russia again traded blame after more shelling around the plant overnight on Thursday, just hours after the United Nations called on both sides to cease military activities near the power station, warning of the worst if they didn’t.

“Regrettably, instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster,” UN secretary general, António Guterres, said in a statement….

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power company, accused Russian forces on Thursday of targeting a storage area for “radiation sources,” and shelling a fire department nearby the plant. A day later, the company said in a statement on its Telegram account that the plant was operating “with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards.”

Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, said Friday that there was “no adequate control” over the plant, and Ukrainian specialists who remained there were not allowed access to some areas where they should be…. Last weekend, shellfire damaged a dry storage facility — where casks of spent nuclear fuel are kept at the plant — as well as radiation monitoring detectors, making detection of any potential leak impossible, according to Energoatom. Attacks also damaged a high-voltage power line and forced one of the plant’s reactors to stop operating.

Tonight the BBC reported on a response from Ukraine’s president.
In his nightly address on Saturday, Volodymyr Zelensky said any soldier firing on or from the plant would become “a special target” for Ukraine. He also accused Moscow of turning the plant into a Russian army base and using it as “nuclear blackmail”…

Zelenskiy added that “every day” of Russia’s occupation of the plant “increases the radiation threat to Europe”….

A BBC investigation revealed earlier this week that many of the Ukrainian workers at the site are being kept under armed guard amid harsh conditions.