Ukraine: Europe’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant Has a ‘Lucky’ Escape after Shelling

Key Takeaways:

  • Russia, Ukraine trade blame for shelling.
  • WHO warns of ‘life-threatening’ winter for millions in Ukraine.
Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has a ‘lucky’ escape after shelling.

LAGOS ( — Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is under Russian control was rocked by shelling on Sunday, drawing condemnation from the United Nations and other international agencies.

In detail, the United Nations has warned that such attacks risked a major global disaster. Head of UN nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, appealed to the warring party to stop the fighting at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

The area around the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant was hit by a barrage of shells. Notably, some shells fell near active reactors and risked damaging a radioactive waste storage building.

However, Moscow and Kyiv both blamed each other for the shelling of the facility. Grossi noted that news of the blasts was extremely disturbing, saying “Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. You’re playing with fire!”

He further called once again for the two warring sides to agree and implement a nuclear safety zone. Grossi emphasized that the zone around the plant must as soon as possible be secured to prevent a larger catastrophe. Currently, at the time of publication, there were no reports of casualties at the nuclear plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also condemned the shelling attacks around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Citing information provided by officials at the Russian-controlled plant, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems and equipment at the site, but nothing so far critical for nuclear safety and security.

‘There‘s Risk Of Nuclear Accident’

Meanwhile, Russia’s state-run nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, has said there is a risk of a nuclear accident due to the shelling. Similarly, Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom said 15 shells were fired at the plant’s facilities.

Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Overview of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Source: BBC

The agency noted that the shell fell near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses fresh spent nuclear fuel. However, no radioactive emissions had been detected. Furthermore, Russian Defense Ministry has alleged that the blasts at Zaporizhzhia were the result of artillery fired by Ukraine.

The plant was overrun by Russian forces a few weeks after Moscow invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Russia annexed the Zaporizhzhia region and other Ukrainian territories in September but has been pushed back on the battlefield in the south. The setback is mainly in Kherson, as the two armies continue to face each other across the River Dnipro.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in October federalizing the plant which is located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the city and sits in Russian-occupied territory along the Dnipro River. The move sparked concerns over the fate of the Ukrainian technicians who have operated the plant since its occupation by Russian forces. The blasts on Saturday and Sunday ended what the IAEA said was “a relative period of calm.”

Millions Of Lives Under Threat In Ukraine This Winter —WHO

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has warned that the upcoming winter would be life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians after a series of devastating Russian attacks on the country’s energy grid.

Half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed, and 10 million are currently without power, said Dr Hans Henri P Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe. Moreover, temperatures are predicted to plummet as low as -20C (-4F) in some areas. The WHO has also documented 703 attacks on health infrastructure since Russia’s invasion began.

Kluge lamented the current situation of thing in Ukraine. He explained that damage to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is already having knock-out effects on the country’s health system. “Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities are no longer operational,” Kluge said.

He noted that about two-three million people are expected to go in search of warmth and safety this winter. Notably, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which used to produce over 25% of Ukraine’s electricity, no longer generates power.

“Put simply, this winter will be about survival. We are urgently calling for the creation of a humanitarian health corridor into all newly regained and occupied areas.”

He said.
Ukraine, Ukraine: Europe’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant Has a ‘Lucky’ Escape after Shelling

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