Russian Troops Attack Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant In Ukraine, Sparking Fire

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Russian Troops Attack Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant In Ukraine, Sparking Fire

Russian Troops Attack Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant In Ukraine, Sparking Fire

At least one fire broke out at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant amid intense fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces on Friday, officials said as the invasion into Ukraine entered its second week.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, near the town of Energodar, came under attack from heavy shelling that led to a fire at a nearby administrative building outside the station’s perimeter. The fire was extinguished hours later, but still led to growing concerns about radiation levels and a potential nuclear event.

The world’s leading nuclear authorities said they were concerned — but not panicked — about the damage to the power station, which supplies about one quarter of Ukraine’s power generation, as U.S. and Ukrainian energy officials confirmed radiation levels had not changed.

A live video feed of the overnight fighting showed one building aflame, and a volley of incoming shells, before a large candescent ball lit up the sky, exploding beside a car park and sending smoke billowing across the compound.

It was not immediately clear who was in control of the plant.

“Europeans, please wake up. Tell your politicians – Russian troops are shooting at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address.

Zelenskyy said Russian tanks had shot at the nuclear reactor plants, though there was no evidence cited that they had been hit.

Energodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov said in an online post that there had been fierce fighting between local forces and Russian troops on the town’s outskirts, adding that there had been casualties without giving details.

Ukraine’s state emergency services agency later confirmed a fire had broken out at a training building outside the plant perimeter. Constant shelling prevented firefighters from accessing the fire for hours, with the fire finally getting extinguished after dawn broke.

There were no casualties, the agency confirmed.

Nuclear plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells had fallen directly on the facility and had set fire to one of its six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Tuz said in a video posted on Telegram earlier in the night.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Russian forces were “firing from all sides” of the plant. He called on the Russians to establish a security zone and allow firefighters through.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had been informed by Ukrainian officials that no “essential” equipment at the station was affected by the attacks or resulting fires. It added Ukrainian regulators have indicated there has been no change in radiation levels.

Nuclear plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells had fallen directly on the facility and had set fire to one of its six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Tuz said in a video posted on Telegram earlier in the night.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter that Russian forces were “firing from all sides” of the plant. He called on the Russians to establish a security zone and allow firefighters through.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had spoken to Zelenskyy about the situation at the plant, and urged Russia to stop all military activities in the area.

Biden is also in touch with U.S. energy officials about the situation, the White House statement added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also spoke with Zelenskyy along with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“These unacceptable attacks by Russia must cease immediately,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Twitter the reactors at the Zaporizhzhia station “are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down.” She said she had spoken with her Ukrainian counterpart about the situation.

Early reports of the incident at the power plant sent financial markets in Asia spiraling, with stocks tumbling and oil prices surging further.

Video showed flames and black smoke rising above Energodar, a city of more than 50,000, with people streaming past wrecked cars, just a day after the U.N. atomic watchdog agency expressed grave concern that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Some analysts noted the Zaporizhzhia plant is of a different and safer type to Chernobyl.

Source:- Global News

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Published on: March 4, 2022. at: 07:50
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