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Ukraine’s nuclear chief warns of ‘very high’ risks at occupied power plant

A view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during the Ukraine-Russia Conflict outside Enerhodar. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Region. 4 August 2022.

The head of Ukraine’s nuclear power department warned Tuesday (9 August) of the “very high” possibility of Russian bombardment at Zaporizhzhia, in the Russian-occupied South. He stated that Kyiv must regain control of the facility by winter.


Petro Kotin, chief of Energoatom, stated that Russian shelling had damaged three lines linking the Zaporizhzhia facility and the Ukrainian grid last week, and that Russia was interested to link the facility with its grid.

Russia and Ukraine were accused of shelling each other’s sites of the enormous nuclear power station in Europe, Europe’s biggest, located in Ukraine.

Kotin said that some shelling was discovered near spent fuel storage facilities. These contain 174 containers full of radioactive material. He warned about the dangers associated with their being struck.

“This is…the most radioactive material in all the nuclear power stations. This would be the spread of the radioactive material around the area, he explained. We will then have a radiation cloud and then the weather will decide…where the cloud goes.”

He said that the risk was “very high”.


Kotin stated Russia would like to connect it to their grid. This is a technical challenge and the facility must be disconnected from Ukraine’s system to allow the Russian to connect.

Their goal is to cut all lines that run from the Zaporizhzhia nuke power plant. After that, the Ukrainian power grid would be disconnected.

He stated that the nuclear power plant was equipped with six reactors, and supplied electricity to Ukraine for between 20 and 21% of its electricity needs before the war. He stated that the nuclear plant needs urgent renovations.

He stated, “For the winter season we urgently need to remove these Russians from there, then rebuild infrastructure.”

According to him, there were approximately 500 Russian troops stationed at this facility with heavy vehicles. It is currently being used as a base.

Kotin suggested that it was best for Russian troops to withdraw and for the plant to be returned to Ukraine. To protect the site, he suggested that peacekeepers be sent.

“Getting rid of all soldiers, and their weapons, from the site is the best solution.” He stated that this solves the safety issue at Zaporizhzhia’s plant.

He warned, however, that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would not be able to travel to the site without safety assurances. It was occupied on March.

He stated that such a trip should be made with the United Nations.

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