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Zelensky: World Narrowly Escapes Nuke Catastrophe
By Staff, Agencies
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the world was spared a radiation disaster when the last power line to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was restored hours after it went out.
Zelensky claimed that Russian military strikes on Thursday caused a fire in the ash pits of a coal-fired power plant adjacent to Europe’s largest reactor, which caused a power outage.
He said that diesel generators ensure backup power supply, which is critical for cooling and safety systems at the power plant. He also thanked the Ukrainian staff working at the power plant under the supervision of the Russian military.
“If our station staff had not reacted after the blackout, then we would have already been forced to overcome the consequences of a radiation accident,” he said in an evening address.
“Russia has put Ukraine and all Europeans in a situation one step away from a radiation disaster.”
Meanwhile, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in the occupied town of Enerhodar near the plant, blamed the Ukrainian armed forces for the fire in a forest near the plant. He said that electricity was cut off for several hours in the towns of the region on Thursday.
“This was caused by the disconnection of power lines from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station as a result of provocations by Zelensky’s fighters,” Rogov wrote on Telegram. “The disconnection itself was triggered by a fire and short circuit on the power lines.”
Nuclear experts have warned of the risk of damage to the plant’s spent nuclear fuel pools or its reactors. Cuts in power needed to cool the pools could cause a catastrophic accident and spread radiation around, much like the Chernobyl disaster.
In recent days, the United Nations has warned several times about provocations around the nuclear power plant and called for the demilitarization of the region. IAEA officials are “very, very close” to visiting Zaporizhzhia, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Thursday.
Ukraine’s energy minister said that agency officials can visit the power plant in the coming days and closely inspect its condition.
“Definitely no later than the beginning of September,” German Galushchenko told Reuters in Kiev.
Ukraine has accused Moscow of stockpiling weapons near the nuclear power plant and carrying out military attacks from there, while Russia accuses Kiev of reckless shelling of the facility, which is located in the city of Enerhodar in southeastern Ukraine.
Ukraine relies heavily on its nuclear power plants to generate electricity, as the country’s 15 reactors in four plants provide half of the country’s electricity. Ukrainian authorities claim that Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia power plant in order to send its generated electricity to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed to Russia in early 2014.
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