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Ukraine nuclear plant shelled, UN warns: ‘You’re playing with fire!’

Shelling destroyed the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It is currently under Russian control. The UN nuclear watchdog condemned the attack, saying that it could cause a major nuclear disaster.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), more than a dozen explosions rocked Europe’s largest nuclear power station Saturday night (19 November) as well as Sunday. The facility was attacked by both Moscow and Kyiv.

Rafael Grossi, IAEA head, stated that “The news from yesterday morning and today are extremely troubling.” At the site of this nuclear power station, explosions took place. This is completely unacceptable. This must be immediately stopped by the responsible party. As I have said, you’re playing with fire.


According to the IAEA ground team, there was damage to buildings, equipment and systems on site, but nothing that would be of critical importance to nuclear safety or security.

Russia’s repeated shelling of the south Ukrainian plant that was taken over by Russia shortly after February’s invasion raised concerns about the possibility for a serious accident at 500km (300 mi) from the site of the 1986 Chornobyl nuclear accident.

Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power station supplied approximately a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity before Russia invaded on February 24th. It has been required to run multiple times on backup generators. The plant houses six Soviet-designed VVER-1500 V320 water-cooled, watermoderated reactors with Uranium235 235.

Even though the reactors were shut down, it is possible that the nuclear fuel could heat if the cooling system is not turned on. Shelling has repeatedly cut power lines.


Both Moscow and Kyiv were accused of attacking the plant multiple times during the conflict, putting at danger a nuclear accident. On Sunday, they exchanged blame.


Russia’s defense ministry claimed Ukraine fired shells at power lines that supply this plant. TASS however reported that Ukrainian shelling had damaged some storage facilities at the site. This quote was provided by Rosenergoatom, a Russian nuclear power operator.

Renat Karchaa was an advisor to Rosenergoatom CEO and stated that “they attacked not just yesterday, but also today.” He stated that any artillery strike on the site was a threat for nuclear security.

Karchaa said that the shells were fired near a dry nuclear waste storage facility and a building that houses fresh spent nuclear fuel. According to TASS, however, radioactive emissions were not detected at the time.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear energy company claimed that the Russian military attacked it. The report also claimed that the Russian military had only hit 12 of the plant’s infrastructure.

According to the report Russia targeted certain parts of the plant’s infrastructure in order to allow it restarted. This was done to reduce Ukraine’s power supply.

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