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Russians take Ukraine nuclear plant; no radiation after fire

Ukraine Nuclear Plant fire out
Posted at 7:32 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 16:46:12-05

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have reportedly taken control of Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

CNN claims employees at the plant are working at Russian gunpoint.

Russia attacked the plant Thursday, causing a fire that led to concerns about a global catastrophe.

The fire at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar was extinguished early Friday morning, hours after Russian forces began shelling the facility.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's director-general said Friday the building hit by a Russian "projectile" was "not part of the reactor" but instead a training center at the plant.

Nuclear officials from Sweden to China also said no radiation spikes had been reported.

The fire at the plant sparked fears of the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Soviet-run Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. Even though the nuclear plant is of a different design than Chernobyl and is protected from fire, nuclear safety experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency warn that waging war in and around such facilities presents extreme risks.

"It could have been six Chernobyls. The Russian tank, people knew what they were shelling. They were shelling this at close range. This was a terror at a new level," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday.

Even before the latest attack, the IAEA had raised concerns about Russian military operations nearby.

Russian forces are still pressing their campaign to cripple the country despite global condemnation.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Thursday and had urged Russia to stop military activities in the area of the facility so that firefighters and emergency responders could access the site and put out the flames.

Ukraine's foreign minister has called for a security zone surrounding Zaporizhzhia.

The plant accounts for about one-quarter of Ukraine's power generation.

The fighting at Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River, came as another round of talks between the two sides yielded a tentative agreement to set up safe corridors inside Ukraine to evacuate citizens and deliver humanitarian aid.

Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador accused Russia of committing “an act of nuclear terrorism” by attacking the country’s largest nuclear power plant and is dismissing as “lies” his Russian counterpart’s claim that a “Ukrainian sabotage group” was responsible for setting fire to a training facility at the plant.

Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that as a result of Russian shelling on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, a fire broke out killing and injuring several people.

"The plant is currently under the control of the Russian armed forces," he said, and “it is alarming that several employees responsible for maintaining nuclear security at the site have reportedly been killed by Russian soldiers,” and “there has been no rotation of personnel since yesterday morning.”

While there have been no changes in radiation levels, Kyslytsya said several buildings are damaged and the telephone connection to the plant “is disrupted and not available at the moment.”

Describing the state of the plant’s nuclear power facilities, he said, Unit One “is in outage, its main building is damaged” and “the overpass of the special building is damaged.” Units Two and Three “have been disconnected from the grid” and are being cooled down, Unit Four is in operation at 690 megawatts power, and Units Five and Six are being cooled down, he said.

Kyslytsya accused Russia of deliberately attacking the nuclear power site in violation of numerous international agreements and said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who blamed a “Ukrainian sabotage group,” may not be properly informed by his government.