Russia risk 'radioactivity release' at Zaporizhzhia says expert
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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was taken under Russian control in the initial stages of Putin’s invasion, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff. The facility has generated panic across the world as it is hit by shelling, with the UN’s nuclear watchdog warning of potentially catastrophic consequences of the plant sustaining this type of damage.
Kyiv and Mosow have accused one another of shelling the facility, which both sides deny.
As fears escalate of a nuclear disaster, the Russian defence ministry suggested that any such fallout would significantly impact three EU nations.
It pinpointed Germany, Poland and Slovakia as the countries most likely to be impacted by radioactive substances.
Russia’s defence ministry then said on Thursday that the plant could be shut down, should shelling continue.
The head of Moscow’s radioactive, chemical and biological defence force, claimed the facility’s back-up support systems had been compromised by the shelling.
The plant was seized by the Kremlin’s forces in March, and is still close to the heart of the fighting on the front line.
A fire broke out at the facility in the same month, prompting outrage from countries condemning the warfare in such close proximity to the plant.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has accused Putin of using “nuclear blackmail” after renewed shelling on the plant.
He added: “Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant could be a blow to the countries of the European Union, and to Turkey, and to Georgia, and countries from more distant regions.”
Mr Zelensky continued: “Everything depends only on the direction and strength of the wind.
“If Russia’s actions lead to a catastrophe, the consequences may hit those who remain silent so far.”
The Ukrainian leader said the “world will lose” if other countries fail to prevent a disaster at Zaporizhzia.
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He said: “It loses to terrorists, yielding to nuclear blackmail. And this may be a precedent that other terrorists will see.
“There is still a chance to prevent this loss.”
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has also pleaded with both sides to allow an inspection of the facility, which he called “completely out of control”.
Mr Grossi said: “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated.”
Mr Grossi said the power plant was exhibiting a “catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility”.
He warned: “If an accident occurs at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we will not have a natural disaster to blame – we will have only ourselves to answer to.
“We need everyone’s support.”
He then added: “So I’m pleading as an international civil servant, as the head of an international organisation, I’m pleading to both sides to let this mission proceed.”
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