Russian Forces Seize Ukraine Nuclear Plant

No radiation was released in fire at Zaporizhzhya facility, authorities say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2022 5:00 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2022 6:50 AM CST
Russian Forces Seize Ukraine Nuclear Plant
This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows bright flaring object landing in grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine Friday, March 4, 2022.   (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)

(Newser) – The fire is out at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant hit by Russian shelling—but the invading forces have now seized control of Zaporizhzhya facility, authorities say. "Russian forces are controlling the administrative building and passage into the plant," Energoatom, the Ukrainian state firm that runs the plant, said in a Telegram message Friday, per NPR. "Our employees are still inside, ensuring the stable operation of nuclear facilities. Radiation levels are normal." The company said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fight for control of the plant. More:

  • World leaders condemn attack on plant. Western leaders strongly condemned the attack on Europe's largest nuclear plant, the BBC reports. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the "reckless" attack could "directly threaten the safety of all of Europe."

  • "Projectile" hit training center. Initial reports said a reactor not currently in use had caught fire, but later statements from officials referred only to a fire at a training center at the plant that had injured two people, per the AP. International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said a "projectile" hit a building that "was not part of the reactor."
  • Zelensky calls it a "terror attack." Russian tanks "know what they're shooting at," Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said in a statement on Facebook early Friday, calling the Russian assault on the plant a "terror attack." "There are 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine. If one of them blows, that's the end for everyone, that's the end of Europe," he said, per CNN. "All of Europe will have to evacuate."
  • Authorities say disaster is still possible. The Ukrainian state inspectorate for nuclear regulation said reactors had been disconnected and no radiation had been released, but a large-scale nuclear disaster is still possible, the Guardian reports. In a statement, the inspectorate warned that the "loss of the possibility to cool down nuclear fuel will lead to significant radioactive releases into the environment."

  • Grossi offers to facilitate talks. The IAEA director-general offered to travel to Ukraine to facilitate talks on keeping nuclear facilities safe during the conflict. "The situation continues to be extremely tense and challenging," Grossi said, per the Guardian. “The physical integrity of the plant has been compromised with what happened last night. We are fortunate that there was no release of radiation and the integrity of the reactors themselves were not compromised."
  • Company says statements could be made under duress. Energoatom warned Friday that statements from plant managers and local officials could have been made under duress, the New York Times reports. "There is a high probability that the recent speech of the mayor of Enerhodar was recorded under the barrel of a machine gun," the company said, apparently referring to a speech that has not been released yet.
(Read more Russia-Ukraine conflict stories.)

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