LVIV, Ukraine — Russian troops seized management of Europe’s largest nuclear energy plant in southeastern Ukraine earlier than daybreak on Friday, in line with Ukrainian officers, however a hearth set off by a raging gun battle had been extinguished. The combating and fireplace had raised worldwide alarm due to the potential that they might attain and harm the nuclear reactors and trigger a radiation leak.
Worldwide screens mentioned early Friday that there was no fast signal that radiation had leaked from the Zaporizhzhia plant. The Ukrainian emergency companies company mentioned the fireplace had been contained to a coaching facility on the perimeter of the advanced.
Worldwide observers and Ukrainian officers mentioned that as of 6 a.m. the power was nonetheless capable of operate safely.
There was harm to “the construction of the reactor compartment” at one of many six reactors, which the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine mentioned did “not have an effect on the protection of the facility unit.” That info got here after the fireplace was put out however earlier than it was clear that the Russians have been accountable for the power.
Nonetheless, there have been many remaining risks — from staff with the ability to do their vital jobs whereas the plant is occupied to the potential of unreported harm at one of many reactors.
The corporate that oversees the advanced, Energoatom, warned that any statements being made by staff from the time of the takeover may very well be being made underneath duress. The corporate additionally warned towards trusting statements from native officers.
“There’s a excessive chance that the latest speech of the mayor of Enerhodar was recorded underneath the barrel of a machine gun,” the corporate mentioned, referring to a video the mayor had posted shortly after the Russians seized management and telling the general public to not provoke them.
Solely hours earlier, the mayor, Dmitry Orlov, had made an pressing plea for assist and described combating so fierce that emergency staff had been unable to maneuver wounded individuals from the nuclear advanced to a hospital.
The potential for disaster had set off alarm bells amongst world leaders. As the fireplace raged, President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain spoke with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, with all calling for an pressing halt to the Russian advance on the advanced. Mr. Johnson mentioned he would search an emergency assembly of the United Nations Safety Council.
The Russian protection ministry blamed Ukrainian saboteurs for threatening the plant, saying that Russian forces had taken management of the power to foil a “monstrous provocation” by the Ukrainian authorities.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear advanced is on the Dnieper River roughly 100 miles north of Crimea. In line with the Worldwide Atomic Vitality Company, its six reactors produce a complete of 6,000 megawatts of electrical energy.
Compared, the Chernobyl plant in northern Ukraine produced 3,800 megawatts. (A megawatt, a million watts, is sufficient energy to gentle 10,000 hundred-watt bulbs.) The 4 reactors of the Chernobyl advanced have been shut down after one suffered a catastrophic fireplace and meltdown in 1986.
Apart from the specter of combating to Zaporizhzhia’s reactors and their cores stuffed with extremely radioactive gas, the location has many acres of open swimming pools of water the place spent gas rods have been cooled for years. Specialists concern that errant shells or missiles that hit such websites might set off radiological disasters.
For days, social media reports have detailed how the residents of Enerhodar arrange a large barrier of tires, automobiles and steel barricades to attempt to block a Russian advance into the town and the reactor website. Christoph Koettl, a visible investigator for The New York Occasions, noted on Twitter that the barricades have been so giant that they may very well be seen from space by orbiting satellites.