Damage to Russian-controlled nuclear power plant sparks ‘hydrogen leakage’ warning

·2-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

Ukraine has warned a nuclear power plant currently controlled by Vladimir Putin’s troops is in danger of “hydrogen leakage and a sputtering of radioactive substances” following shelling around the facility.

Energoatom - a state-run agency which runs all four nuclear facilities - revealed that two power units at Zaporizhzhia have been reconnected to the country’s grid after the plant was knocked temporarily offline during the week.

Despite the positive development, the agency said Putin’s military presence means there are “serious risks” looming while both sides have accused the other of shelling the site.

Kremlin troops took control of Europe’s largest power plant early in March and have been stationed there with explosives and other military hardware.

Energoatom wrote on its website: “At the same time, due to the presence of the Russian military, their weapons, equipment and explosives at the power plant, there are serious risks for the safe operation of the ZNPP.

“As a result of periodic shelling, the infrastructure of the power plant has been damaged, there are risks of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances, and the fire hazard is high.”

The statement added that Ukrainian staff members are doing whatever they can to reduce the danger and “eliminate the consequences of [shelling] damage”.

Overview of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (via REUTERS)
Overview of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (via REUTERS)

Moscow and Kyiv traded fresh accusations on Saturday of shelling around the nuclear power plant amid international concern that fighting in the area could trigger a disaster.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday the situation at Zaporizhzhia remained “very risky” after two of its six reactors were reconnected to the grid following shelling that caused the nuclear plant to be disconnected for the first time in its history.

Zelensky told viewers in his regular evening address: “Let me stress that the situation remains very risky and dangerous.

“Any repeat of yesterday’s events, meaning any disconnection of the station from the grid, any action by Russia that could provoke the disconnection of reactors, would once again place the station one step away from a catastrophe.”

He praised Ukrainian experts working to “avert the worst-case scenario.”

There are fears continued fighting near the plant could result in another disaster like Chernobyl in 1986.

The Russian ministry, in its daily briefing, said it had destroyed a large ammunition depot in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region that had contained US -made HIMARS rocket systems and shells for M777 Howitzers.

The Russian Air Force shot down a MiG-29 aircraft in the eastern Donetsk region, the ministry said, and destroyed another six missile and artillery weapons depots in the Donetsk, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions.