As Russia Fire Breaks on Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plant, Zelenskiy says, “Europe must awaken”-CR NEWS

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for a ceasefire and warned of a “very serious risk” if reactors are damaged during the conflict. No changes in radiation levels have been detected at the Zaporizhzhia power station since then.

After artillery fire from Russian forces prompted widespread anxiety about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure, a fire has raged for several hours at the country’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is Europe’s biggest of its kind.

The fire began early on Friday morning and was put out by 6:20 a.m. Ukraine time, when it broke out in a training facility on the site’s perimeter. The Russian-controlled site was secured, the facilities were secure, and the reactors were safe, according to Ukrainian authorities. The IAEA declared that the fire had not damaged “important” equipment. However, the mishap highlighted the hazards of a nuclear plant in the middle of a war.

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“Europe must wake up now,” Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated in a video statement on Friday. “The most powerful nuclear station in Europe is on fire. “Tanks with thermal vision are now firing at nuclear units. Those are the armored vehicles that have infrared vision, so they can see where they’re striking.”

“It will be the end of all of us, Europe, and the evacuation of Europe if there is an explosion.” “Europe’s only chance to save itself from Russian troops and prevent the death of Europe from a nuclear catastrophe is for Europe to take immediate action.”

He charged that Russia had resorted to “nuclear terror” in response.

“No nation, other than Russia, has ever targeted nuclear power stations,” he added. “This is the first time in our country’s history. It’s the first time in human history. A terrorist state has now resorted to nuclear terrorism.”

A spokesman for the nuclear plant, Andriy Tuz, stated that one of the reactor blocks had been damaged in the attack.

“Firefighters can’t get to the site and put out the fire because of constant shelling,” Tuz said in a video posted on social media. “The first energy unit has already been destroyed. Stop!”

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The foreign minister, Dymtry Kuleba, said the Russian army was attacking the site “from all sides.” “Fire has already begun to spread,” he tweeted. A Reuters video feed of the plant showed shelling and smoke rising near a facility on the plant complex.

Energoatom, the state-run atomic energy agency, said one reactor block was shelled.

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According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was informed shortly before 4 a.m. local time by Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory commission, there had been no change in radiation levels at the plant. The NNSA director-general, Rafael Grossi, appealed for a cease-fire and stated that if the reactors were hit, there would be “grave danger.”

The fire in the training building was “localized,” according to emergency services, at around 6 am local time. The fire was put out shortly after, and there were no injuries among the plant employees, according to the authorities.

At about 3:40 a.m. Kyiv time, US Vice President Joe Biden phoned Ukraine’s president. Zelensky informed US President about the situation and the two leaders urged Russia “to cease its military operations in the region and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site,” according to a White House statement.

After learning of the fire, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson phoned President Zelensky. The situation is “extremely worrying,” according to a Downing Street spokesperson, who added: “The Prime Minister warned that President Putin’s dangerous actions might now put the whole of Europe in danger. He said the UK would do everything it could to maintain order.”

“The Prime Minister said he would be calling for an urgent UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, and that the UK would raise the matter with Russia and other allies right away. Both leaders agreed on the importance of having a cease-fire.”

A nuclear power plant’s confinement chambers are designed to endure significant impact and even air attack, while the VVER pressurized water reactor is intended to shut down in an emergency. The U.S. Department of Energy, for example, has said that the VVER reactors are “significantly safer” than the type of reactor that exploded in Chernobyl in 1986.

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Any interruption to the energy supply that affects the cooling system, as well as a direct hit on the spent fuel pools, which are not as well protected as the reactors, may set off a chain of events that might result in catastrophe.

If the structure is not destroyed and the reactors are able to shut down safely, and if there are backup or tertiary cooling methods, then there should be little danger. “There is a substantial danger if those criteria are not satisfied,” tweeted former senior director for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council Jon Wolfsthal.

As Russia unleashes artillery on Ukraine's nuclear power plant, Zelenskiy says, "Europe must wake up

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine’s south-eastern region, which contains six of the country’s 15 reactors, as well as neighboring town Energodar, were both built with assistance from Westinghouse. Since Monday, the region has been encircled by Russian troops.

The invaders had been met with fierce resistance on all sides, as a large crowd of local people had gathered in the road leading up to the plant and formed a human barrier against the invading force.

The mayor of Energodar, Dmitry Orlov, said on Friday morning that Russian shelling had caused the fire and posted a video urging Russian forces to cease their attack, warning that it might lead to catastrophe with impacts extending beyond Ukraine.

According to Mariana Budjeryn, a Harvard University expert working on nuclear command and control at the Belfer Center’s project, “A reactor building being hit doesn’t tell us much since the most vulnerable component of this is the electricity and water supply.”

If the electricity goes off, backup generators come online, but if those don’t operate or their diesel fuel is set on fire, for example, the pumps can’t pump cold water into the nuclear reactor and spent fuel pools. “To keep the nuclear reaction under control, it is critical to add or remove water. Otherwise, the water will boil away and the core will go critical and explode,” Budjeryn explained.

She said confinement chambers were designed to withstand some level of impact and could stop the release of radiation even if the core exploded.

However, she added that the pools containing spent nuclear fuel rods were a greater concern.“They’re not as active, but they’re usually overstuffed,” Budjeryn added. If the cooling system goes down, less active yet more tightly packed material is also deadly.

“And spent fuel tanks are not encased in hardened concrete confinement chambers,” Budjeryn adds.

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