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‘Operating normally’: Russia shows seized Ukraine nuclear plant

This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing on the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)
This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing on the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)

Nearly two months after it was seized by Russian forces, there are few signs of the fighting for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine that sparked global fears of a potential atomic disaster.

Other than a scorched administrative building, the vast complex in southern Ukraine — Europe’s largest nuclear power plant — appears largely untouched by the clashes during a visit by AFP this weekend, part of a press tour organized by the Russian military.

There has been deep international concern over the situation at the plant, which has six of Ukraine’s 15 reactors and can create enough energy for four million homes.

Russian forces seized the site amid fighting in early March that caused a large fire at a training facility at the plant, which sits along the Dnipro river south of the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia.

There is no spike in radiation, but the clashes nonetheless caused deep worries, especially in the country that was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week that it was “extremely important” for IAEA monitors to be able to access the site, which was built in the early 1980s but modernized in recent years.

Russia insists it is taking all necessary precautions at the plant, where its troops now patrol in the shadows of its enormous and heavily reinforced red-domed reactors.

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