Ukraine-Russia War: Live Updates – The New York Times
A fire broke out early Friday morning at a complex in southern Ukraine that houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, after Russian troops fired on the area, Ukrainian Foreign Minister said.
Security camera footage taken early Friday and verified by The New York Times showed a burning building inside the electrical complex near a line of military vehicles. The videos appeared to show people in the vehicles shooting at power plant buildings. It is unclear whether the vehicles were Russian or Ukrainian.
The fire started after a Russian attack on a training building outside the factory perimeter, Reuters reported early Friday, citing a statement from Ukraine’s state emergency service. Only one of the complex’s six reactors was online, the state agency told Reuters.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian military was “firing from all sides” at the Zaporizhzhia complex, which includes Europe’s largest reactor site. He said on Twitter that a disaster could be “10 times bigger than Chernobyl”, referring to the disaster at this nuclear site in 1986. “The Russians must immediately stop the fire and allow the firefighters to establish a safety zone”, a- he declared.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Twitter that he had spoken with Ukrainian officials about the seriousness of the situation at the plant. He called for the fighting to stop and warned of “grave danger” if the reactors were hit.
Mr Grossi’s agency also released a statement saying it had been advised by Ukrainian regulators that no changes had been reported in radiation levels at the plant. The American Nuclear Society also condemned the Russian attack on the reactor complex but noted that, so far, “there is no indication of damage.” The latest readings of its radiation levels are, the statement added, “within natural background levels.”
Earlier in the day, Mr Grossi said that “a large number of Russian tanks and infantry” had entered Enerhodar, a town near the plant, and that infantry troops were “moving directly towards” the reactor site.
Mayor Dmitry Orlov told a local radio station that heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers had raged near the factory, according to the station’s Twitter account. The mayor called for an immediate ceasefire.
the Zaporizhia nuclear complex, on the Dnieper River about 160 km north of Crimea, is the largest not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe. According to the International Atomic Energy Agencyits six reactors produce a total of 6,000 megawatts of electricity.
By comparison, the Chernobyl plant in northern Ukraine produced 3,800 megawatts, about a third less. (One megawatt, one million watts, is enough to light 10,000 hundred-watt bulbs.) All four reactors at the Chernobyl complex were shut down after one suffered a catastrophic fire and meltdown in 1986 .
Reactor cores are filled with highly radioactive fuel. But an added hazard at the Zaporizhzhia site is the many acres of open water ponds behind the complex where spent fuel rods have been cooled for years. Experts fear that errant shells or missiles striking such sites could trigger radiological disasters.
For days, social media reports detailed how the residents of Enerhodar erected a giant barrier of tires, vehicles, and metal barricades in an attempt to block a Russian advance into the city and the reactor site. Christoph Koettl, Visual Investigator for The New York Times, noted on twitter that the barricades were so big that they could be seen from outer space by orbiting satellites.
Since last Sunday, three days after the start of the invasion, the Ukrainian nuclear regulator started reporting an unusual rate of disconnections: Six of the country’s 15 reactors were offline. Tuesday, the Installation of Zaporizhzhia was the site with the most offline reactors.