March 1, 2024

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The Russians open the doors of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

The Russians open the doors of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

An administrative building burned down, but the nuclear reactors remain intact: AFP was able to visit the Zaforizhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine and Europe, on Sunday, and the capture by the Russian military has alarmed the international community.

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The plant, located in the southern Ukrainian city of Energodor (Enerhodor, in Ukrainian), was separated from Ukrainian control by Moscow forces in early March by the Dnieper water from the regional capital, Zaporizhia.

The conflict there has raised fears within the international community about a nuclear disaster similar to the one at Chernobyl in 1986.

During a press conference organized by the Russian military, the AFP was able to observe the damage: flames darkened the facade of a large administrative building that served as a training center for the plant’s staff, and several windows were broken.

But no trace of gunfire or bombing has been found in the six cubes of the Red Dome containing the nuclear reactors that began construction in the 1980s.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described the situation at the Zaporizhia power plant as “worrying” and had no access to its experts since it was taken over by Moscow.

The plant “operates normally in accordance with nuclear, radiological and environmental standards”, however, Maj. Gen. Valery Vasiliev, an expert on nuclear and chemical issues sent by Moscow to protect the site, assures on the spot.

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None of the few soldiers guarding behind the sandbags wore masks or any other protective equipment against radiation.

“Here, everything is fine! Energodar’s new mayor, Andrei Shevtchik, who came to power after the Russians, was trumpeted.

“We are ready to sell electricity to Europe. Any buyer is welcome. It’s so cheap! “Before departing in a shiny SUV covered with Russian flags, he adds.

However, there is a great deal of ambiguity surrounding the operation of the plant, which is constantly being provided by Ukrainian teams.

The AFP could not meet with any of the site staff and the level of coordination between them and the new owners of the premises was unclear.

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the plant had a capacity of 5,700 MW, which was enough to cover more than 20% of the country’s electricity needs.