Ukrainian nuclear site faces new threat
Kiev is flirting with disaster by shelling the hydroelectric facility that services the Zaporozhye nuclear plant, says a local official
Shelling of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station by Ukrainian forces risks a “nuclear catastrophe” at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, Arseniy Zelensky, the Kakhovka plant’s deputy director for reconstruction, told reporters on Saturday.
According to Zelensky, as quoted by TASS, Kakhovka is now operating in a “very dangerous” emergency mode.
The Kakhovka plant is located in Kherson Region in southern Ukraine, which was seized by Russian forces in the early stages of Moscow’s military operation. Together with Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, it has been attacked by Kiev’s troops – with use of Western-supplied weapons – according to the regional authorities.
“In case of problems with the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, there will be big troubles at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. [This] could lead to a nuclear catastrophe,” the deputy director of the Kakhovka plant said.
He explained to journalists that if the dam is destroyed, the nuclear facility would be deprived of the water needed to cool its reactors.
He revealed that the station has been working in emergency mode “since the first days of hostilities.”
“The station’s own needs, backup 6 kV, are lost, we are working in a very dangerous mode,” he said, adding that one of the turbines had to be turned off following Ukrainian rocket attacks.
If the military action ceases, Zelensky said, the plant can be “restored within a week.”
“Fortunately, the station has not yet received major damage, except for hydroelectric unit number three, which burned down in March, it takes 1.5 years to complete the work,” he said.
Zelensky’s remarks came the day after Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the military-civilian administration of Kherson Region, revealed that the city of Novaya Kakhovka had again been attacked by “Ukrainian nationalists”but “no tangible damage” was caused. “The hydroelectric power station was not damaged,” he said.
On Thursday, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council that a nuclear disaster can happen “at any moment” amid the “reckless” shelling of the Zaporozhye plant by Kiev’s forces.
“Kiev’s criminal attacks on the nuclear infrastructure facilities are pushing the world to the brink of a nuclear disaster that would rival the Chernobyl one,” Nebenzia said.
Responding to Kiev’s claims that Russia was the one targeting the plant in an alleged plot to discredit Ukraine, the diplomat said that Russia has no reason to target the facility or its own troops, and that multiple attacks on the facility have been documented from Ukrainian-held territory in Dnepropetrovsk Region.
US State Department, however, took Kiev’s side by endorsing the demand for a demilitarized zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear plant and calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops that control the area.