Russian troops target Europe’s largest nuclear power plant during the invasion in Ukraine
US secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm confirmed that the area near the nuclear facility has not shown signs of elevated radiation readings, signalling that the ‘essential’ equipment has not been hit.
“We have seen no elevated radiation readings near the facility,” Ms Granholm said.
However, the reactors at the nuclear plant are being shut down safely, the US secretary of energy said.
Europe’s largest nuclear plant came under attack amid heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops on Friday morning after a fire broke out in a training building outside the facility, officials from the Ukraine’s state emergency service said.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility powers more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba urged for an immediate ceasefire at the site to avoid a catastrophic nuclear disaster. US president Joe Biden also demanded that Russian troops cease firing on the Ukrainian power plant and make way for emergency services.
Preliminary visuals of the fire at the building near the nuclear facility showed continuous shelling and smoke rising on early Friday.
The international energy agency IAEA said it is deploying its Incident and Emergency Centre in full 24/7 response mode due to a serious situation at the nuclear power plant facility in Ukraine.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky released his video statement shortly after, saying Europe needs to wake up right now.
“Europe needs to wake up. The biggest nuclear power plant in Europe in on fire right now. Russian tanks are shooting at the nuclear blocks,” the president said.
Mr Zelensky added: “These are tanks equipped with thermal imagers so they know what they are shooting at. They have prepared for it. I am addressing all Ukrainians, all Europeans and everyone who knows the word Chernobyl, who knows many casualties were inflicted by the explosion on the nuclear plant.”
It was a global catastrophe and its consequences were battled by hundreds of thousands of people, he said.
Russian aggression in Ukraine has gripped southeast of Kyiv as heavy fighting was reported in the region by the mayor of a nearby town Energodar.
Some casualties have also been reported, the mayor said without sharing more details.
Mayor Dymtro Orlov said: “As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire.”
Moscow’s troops have already wrested control of defunct Chernobyl plant in a major threat to the region. The facility had spewed lethal radioactive waste, killing thousands when it melted down in 1986.
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