Europe’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant on Fire After Russian Shelling
Mayor Dmytro Orlov of Enerhodar, an industrial city along the Dnieper River, had said earlier that an armored column of soldiers was moving toward Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Reuters.
Orlov reported that Ukrainian forces were battling with the invaders, whom he characterized as “young men in athletic clothes and armed with Kalashnikovs,” on the outskirts of the city.
A plant official confirmed in a video posted to Telegram that the Russians had begun shelling the station, which is at the western edge of Enerhodar.
“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” spokesperson Andriy Tuz said in the video, according to the Associated Press. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”
Tuz told Ukrainian television that one of the facility’s six reactors was on fire as a result of the shelling, the AP reported
The affected reactor was undergoing renovations and not in operation prior to the attack, he said, though there was still nuclear fuel inside of it while firefighters trying to get to the flames were being blocked by Russian gunfire.
Ukrainian nuclear authorities told the International Atomic Energy Agency that no changes had been reported in radiation levels near the plant, which accounts for roughly one-quarter of all power generated in Ukraine.
The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, was liaising with Ukrainian authorities shortly after the attack on the plant was first reported. The agency said Grossi was appealing to Russia to halt the shelling, warning of “severe danger” should the reactors be hit.
U.S. President Joe Biden was in contact with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Friday morning, a senior U.S. official told Agence France-Presse. The White House did not immediately issue a statement on the situation, or details on the ongoing discussions.