Ukraine’s foreign minister said Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is on fire after the facility in the country’s southeast endured heavy shelling from Russian troops Friday morning.
“Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe,” the foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said on Twitter. “Fire has already broke out.”
Kuleba added that if the plant, which holds six of the country’s 15 reactors, explodes, it will be far worse than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
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In a video posted on Telegram, Andriy Tuz, a facility spokesperson, demanded that Russia stop shelling the plant and said there was a “real threat of nuclear danger,” according to the Associated Press.
Speaking on local television, Tuz said that shells had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors, the AP reported. The unit is under renovation but has nuclear fuel inside and remains inaccessible to firefighters because they’re being shot at, Tuz said, the AP reported.
The development came one day after Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was “gravely concerned” about the invasion of Ukraine.
“It is the first time a military conflict is happening amidst the facilities of a large, established nuclear power program,” he said.
“I have called for restraint from all measures or actions that could jeopardize the security of nuclear and other radioactive material, and the safe operation of any nuclear facilities in Ukraine, because any such incident could have severe consequences, aggravating human suffering and causing environmental harm.”
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