Radiation sensors damaged
Workers injured by gunfire at nuclear power plant
The hostilities in Ukraine do not stop at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Now a worker was injured when a shell hit a nuclear waste storage facility. In addition, the surveillance technology was damaged. Radioactive radiation could now escape unnoticed.
According to Ukrainian sources, a worker was injured in the Russian shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhia. The incident happened on Saturday evening, said the state-owned energy company Energoatom. The dry storage facility of the power plant, in which 174 containers with spent fuel elements are stored in the open air, was hit by rocket attacks, as the company announced on the Telegram news channel. The worker was injured by shrapnel and taken to the hospital.
“Three radiation monitoring sensors around the site of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant were damaged,” it said. “Therefore, timely detection and reaction in the event of a deterioration in the radiation situation or the emergence of radiation from casks with spent fuel assemblies is not yet possible.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a stronger international response to Russian “nuclear terror”. During a telephone conversation with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, he called for sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry, like the Ukrainian leader wrote on Twitter.
“Play with the fire”
The shelling of Zaporizhia alerted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Director General Rafael Grossi warned of the risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond. “Any military firepower aimed at or emanating from the facility would be playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” Grossi said. A threat to the security of Zaporizhia must be avoided “at all costs”.
On Friday, Energoatom shut down one of the six reactors after an artillery shell damaged a high-voltage power line that is vital to the operation. Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the shelling and accused each other of risking a nuclear disaster. According to Energoatom, no radioactivity has escaped so far.
Energoatom and the IAEA, which reports to the United Nations (UN), have repeatedly complained that the operational safety of Zaporizhia has been impaired by military action. The IAEA’s access to remote monitoring systems had been interrupted several times.