LVIV, Ukraine — Russian troops seized management of Europe’s largest nuclear energy plant in southeastern Ukraine earlier than daybreak on Friday, in line with Ukrainian officers, however a hearth set off by a raging gun battle had been extinguished. The combating and hearth had raised worldwide alarm due to the potential that they might attain and harm the nuclear reactors and trigger a radiation leak.
Worldwide displays stated early Friday that there was no speedy signal that radiation had leaked from the Zaporizhzhia plant. The Ukrainian emergency providers company stated the hearth had been contained to a coaching facility on the perimeter of the complicated.
Worldwide observers and Ukrainian officers stated that as of 6 a.m. the power was nonetheless capable of operate safely.
There was harm to “the construction of the reactor compartment” at one of many six reactors, which the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine stated did “not have an effect on the protection of the facility unit.” That data got here after the hearth was put out however earlier than it was clear that the Russians had been accountable for the power.
Nonetheless, there have been many remaining risks — from staff with the ability to do their crucial jobs whereas the plant is occupied to the potential of unreported harm at one of many reactors.
The corporate that oversees the complicated, Energoatom, warned that any statements being made by staff from the time of the takeover may very well be being made beneath duress. The corporate additionally warned in opposition to trusting statements from native officers.
“There’s a excessive chance that the latest speech of the mayor of Enerhodar was recorded beneath the barrel of a machine gun,” the corporate stated, referring to a video the mayor had posted shortly after the Russians seized management and telling the general public to not provoke them.
Solely hours earlier, the mayor, Dmitry Orlov, had made an pressing plea for assist and described combating so fierce that emergency staff had been unable to maneuver wounded folks from the nuclear complicated to a hospital.
The potential for disaster had set off alarm bells amongst world leaders. As the hearth raged, President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain spoke with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, with all calling for an pressing halt to the Russian advance on the complicated. Mr. Johnson stated he would search an emergency assembly of the United Nations Safety Council.
The Russian protection ministry blamed Ukrainian saboteurs for threatening the plant, saying that Russian forces had taken management of the power to foil a “monstrous provocation” by the Ukrainian authorities.
Russia-Ukraine Warfare: Key Issues to Know
A Ukrainian metropolis falls. Russian troops gained control of Kherson, the primary metropolis to be overcome throughout the battle. The overtaking of Kherson is important because it permits the Russians to manage extra of Ukraine’s southern shoreline and to push west towards the town of Odessa.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear complicated is on the Dnieper River roughly 100 miles north of Crimea. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, its six reactors produce a complete of 6,000 megawatts of electrical energy.
Compared, the Chernobyl plant in northern Ukraine produced 3,800 megawatts. (A megawatt, a million watts, is sufficient energy to gentle 10,000 hundred-watt bulbs.) The 4 reactors of the Chernobyl complicated had been shut down after one suffered a catastrophic hearth and meltdown in 1986.
Apart from the specter of combating to Zaporizhzhia’s reactors and their cores stuffed with extremely radioactive gasoline, the positioning has many acres of open swimming pools of water the place spent gasoline rods have been cooled for years. Experts fear that errant shells or missiles that hit such websites might set off radiological disasters.
For days, social media reports have detailed how the residents of Enerhodar arrange a large barrier of tires, automobiles and metallic barricades to attempt to block a Russian advance into the town and the reactor web site. Christoph Koettl, a visible investigator for The New York Occasions, noted on Twitter that the barricades had been so massive that they may very well be seen from space by orbiting satellites.