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Ukraine nuclear plant risks increasing ‘every day’

1. Ukraine
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. (File photo: AFP)

KIEV — The risk of disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear plant is “increasing every day”, the mayor of the city where it is located told AFP on Sunday, after Ukraine and Russia exchanged blame for fresh shelling around the facility.اضافة اعلان

The Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine has been occupied by Russian forces since March, and Kyiv has accused Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers and storing arms there.

The facility has come under fire repeatedly in the past week, raising the specter of a nuclear catastrophe.

“What is happening there is outright nuclear terrorism, and it can end unpredictably at any moment,” said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of Energodar city where the plant is based.

“The risks are increasing every day,” he told AFP by telephone from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia.

He said there was mortar shelling on the plant “every day and night”.

“The situation is hazardous, and what causes the most concern is that there is no de-escalation process,” he added.

‘Blackmail’

During his televised address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of nuclear “blackmail” and using the plant to “intimidate people in an extremely cynical way”.

He added Russian troops were “hiding” behind the plant to stage bombings on the Ukrainian-controlled towns of Nikopol and Marganets.

But pro-Moscow officials in the occupied areas of Zaporizhzhia blamed the shelling on Ukrainian forces.

Missiles fell “in the areas located on the banks of the Dnipro River and in the plant”, said Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed administration, without reporting any casualties or damage.

The river divides the areas occupied by Russia and those under Ukraine’s control.

Orlov said over the past 24 hours, Energodar — which he left at the end of April — was shelled for the first time leading to a dramatic increase in those hoping to evacuate.

Amid safety fears, he warned that in the “near future” there may not be enough personnel to man the station.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded accusations over several rounds of shelling on the plant this month, with the strikes raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting over the situation on Thursday and warned of a “grave” crisis unfolding in Zaporizhzhia.

The alarm over Zaporizhzhia has revived painful memories of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — the world’s worst nuclear accident — that struck Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union and spread radioactive dust and ash across Europe.

Ukraine said the first strikes on August 5 hit a high-voltage power cable and forced one of the reactors to stop working.

Then strikes on Thursday damaged a pumping station and radiation sensors.

Backed by Western allies, Ukraine has called for a demilitarized zone around the plant and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces.


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