Ukraine: the risk of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhia worries more and more

Ukraine: the risk of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhia worries more and more

Reporting by Solène Leroux, editing by Alexis Rey-Millet

The bombings near the site of the Zaporizhia power plant in Ukraine are increasingly worrying about the growing risk of a nuclear accident. The United States has called on Russia to cease all activity near Ukrainian nuclear sites, while the latter rejects responsibility for these strikes on Ukraine.

The United States has called on Russia to cease all military activity near Ukrainian nuclear sites. At the end of last week, several strikes targeted areas close to the site of the Zaporija power plant and its reactors. Since then, Moscow and Kiev have blamed each other for the bombings in an area under Russian control. The responsibility of the two belligerents is unclear since no independent source in the state can confirm which of the two is attacking the area.

Russia and Ukraine are alarmed by the situation

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the bombing of Zaporizhia is “potentially extremely dangerous”. He adds: “It could have catastrophic consequences for a large area, including for European territory”.

For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky no longer hesitates to make the comparison with the Chernobyl disaster of 36 years ago. “There is not a single nation in the world that can feel safe when a terrorist state bombs a nuclear power plant. If something irreparable happens, no one will stop the wind that will respond to radioactive contamination,” he warns.

Calls to create a demilitarized zone around the site

A fear shared by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which considers the information coming from Zaporizhia increasingly alarming, while one of the reactors had to be shut down after an attack. According to nuclear specialist Teva Mayer: “If the supply of electricity is interrupted by a bombing, the essential cooling of the reactors and the storage of spent fuels can no longer be ensured, which could cause an accident”.

The head of the Ukrainian nuclear agency, Petro Kotine, calls for the creation of a demilitarized zone at the Zaporizhia site, which is currently occupied by about 500 soldiers and 50 heavy vehicles.

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