Great danger of accidents at Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, warns mayor

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Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine.

The risk of nuclear accidents at Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant is growing, the Mayor of Enerhodar town, which is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has warned.

“The fear is growing with each passing day because there are several dangerous factors at play,’’ Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov told dpa.

Orlov had left Enerhodar after the town was occupied by Russian soldiers.

Orlov currently serves as head of a civil-military administration from the city of Zaporizhzhya in the southern Ukrainian region of the same name.

There is a high risk of a technical disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Orlov said.

“The power plant now has to be supplied from outside and since last September alone there have been six incidents where the power supply was interrupted.

“In the prior 40 years there was not one such incident,’’ he warned.

Russia had announced the capture of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in early March 2022, shortly after launching a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The plant is located in the contested area near the front line.

The reactors have been shut down since September 2022.

Some 10,000 people still live in Enerhodar, home to some 53,000 before the war began, according to the mayor.

Out of the 10,000 employed at the plant prior to the fighting, only one in five remain.

The Russian occupiers had harassed employees with threats and abuse, even torture, Orlov said, adding that there was lack of qualified experts because Russia has not provided replacements.

The militarisation of the nuclear facility amid fighting is a danger in itself, said Orlov.

“Russia has turned the plant into a military camp with 1,000 men on site at all times,’’ he said.

The dam from whose reservoir the cooling water for the nuclear plant was tapped was destroyed during the war.

Now there is a threat of a lack of cooling water in the remaining retention basin and a dangerous combination of various risk factors, Orlov warned.

However, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest situation report, Russian occupiers have largely restored the supply of cooling water by digging groundwater wells.

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