Ukraine narrowly escapes nuclear catastrophe as plant loses power, Zelenskiy says

Date:

  • Regular power line to Zaporizhzhya factory works;
  • Nearby fires had disrupted the power connection
  • Work underway to reconnect two working reactors to the grid
  • Fighting continues in east and south

KYIV, Aug. 26 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the world narrowly avoided a radiation disaster as electricity to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant was cut for hours due to Russian shelling in the area, allegations Moscow denied.

Zelenskiy said Russian shelling on Thursday led to fires in the ash pits of a nearby coal-fired power station that disconnected the reactor complex, Europe’s largest such facility, from the power grid. A Russian official said Ukraine was to blame.

Backup diesel generators provided a power supply vital to the plant’s refrigeration and safety systems, Zelenskiy said, praising the Ukrainian technicians operating the plant under the gaze of the Russian military.

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“Had our station staff not responded after the blackout, we would already have been forced to overcome the effects of a radiation accident,” he said in an evening speech.

“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation that is one step away from a radiation disaster.”

Energoatom said electricity for the plant’s own needs is currently supplied via a power line from the Ukrainian electricity system, and work is underway to re-establish network connectivity to the plant’s two functioning reactors.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the occupied city of Enerhodar near the factory, blamed Ukrainian armed forces for the incident, saying they started a fire in a forest near the factory. He said local towns have had power for several hours.

“This was caused by the disconnection of power lines from the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant as a result of provocations by Zelenskiy’s fighters,” Rogov wrote on Telegram. “The disconnection itself was caused by a fire and short circuit on the power lines.”

HOT SPOT

Energoatom said it was the factory’s first full decoupling, which has become a hot spot in the six-month-old war.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February, captured the factory in March and has controlled it ever since, although Ukrainian technicians still operate it. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the site, fueling fears of a nuclear disaster.

The United Nations wants access to the factory and has called for the area to be demilitarized. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials are “very, very close” to visiting Zaporizhzhya, Director-General Rafael Grossi said on Thursday.

Nuclear experts have warned of the risk of damage to the nuclear fuel pools or reactors at the plant. Power cuts needed to cool the pools could cause a catastrophic meltdown.

Paul Bracken, a national security expert and professor at the Yale School of Management, said the concern was that artillery shells or rockets could pierce the reactor walls and spread radiation over a potentially large area, much like the 1986 Chernobyl accident. reactor.

A failure at the Zaporizhzhya plant could “kill hundreds or thousands of people and damage a much wider area as far as Europe,” Bracken said.

“Russian roulette is a good metaphor because the Russians are spinning the revolver chamber and threatening to blow out the reactor’s brain across Europe,” Bracken said.

TO FIGHT

Russia’s ground campaign has stalled in recent months after its forces were forced out of the capital Kiev in the early weeks of the invasion, but fighting continues along the front lines to the south and east.

Russian forces control the territory along Ukraine’s Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov coasts, as the conflict has escalated into a war of attrition in the eastern Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

In its morning overview of battlefield developments from across the country on Friday, the Ukrainian military said its forces had repulsed Russian attacks on the towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine’s “South” Operational Command said its artillery had hit ammunition depots and enemy personnel in the southern region of Kherson, while airstrikes were being conducted on enemy air defenses.

Russian news agency TASS reported that Ukrainian forces using a US-supplied HIMARS missile launcher targeted the city of Stakhanov in the Donbas, with about 10 missiles hitting the city before dawn on Friday, according to pro-Moscow breakaway officials in Luhansk. .

Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports from either side.

Kiev has repeatedly called for more, high-quality Western military hardware it says it needs to fend off Russian attacks.

Zelenskiy spoke by phone on Thursday with US President Joe Biden, who reiterated US support for Ukraine against Russia, the White House said. Biden announced Wednesday, Ukraine’s Independence Day, that Kiev would receive $3 billion in new security assistance, although it could take months or even years.

President Vladimir Putin, who may place additional faith in Western estimates of heavy Russian losses during the war, signed a decree Thursday increasing the size of Russia’s armed forces from 1.9 million to 2.04 million. read more

The Kremlin says its goal is to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine and remove perceived security threats to Russia. Ukraine and the West say this is an unfounded pretext for a war of conquest.

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Reporting by Reuters agencies; Written by Daniel Wallis, Stephen Coates and Gareth Jones; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Simon Cameron-Moore and Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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