More than 40 countries of the world are asking Russia to leave the territory of the Zaporizhzhya NPP: the plant is on the verge of disaster
An appeal to Russia on the withdrawal of troops from the Zaporozhye NPP was issued on behalf of 42 countries: including all EU countries, Australia, Great Britain Georgia, Iceland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, North Macedonia, USA, Montenegro, South Korea and Japan, says Voice of America.
The appeal was published on the official website of the European Union on August 14. Russia occupied the largest nuclear power plant in Europe in early March, and Ukrainian personnel continue to work at it. In recent weeks, shells have fallen on the territory of the station several times after artillery shelling, Kyiv and Moscow blame each other for this.
The text calls on Russia to withdraw its armed forces and all unauthorized personnel from the station, from its immediate environs and from all over Ukraine.
“The deployment of Russian military personnel and weapons at a nuclear facility is unacceptable and violates the principles of security, protection and safeguards that all members of the International Atomic Energy Agency have pledged to uphold,” the text says. The appeal notes that the presence of the Russian military prevents Ukraine from complying with its obligations to maintain nuclear safety, and the IAEA from exercising its powers as a nuclear regulator at the facility.
Moscow says the Russian military is stationed at the station only to guard it during the war. Moscow is calling on IAEA inspectors to visit the sanction, saying that the Ukrainian side is hindering the visit. Kyiv says Russia must withdraw troops from the station so that the visit can take place according to Ukrainian law.
The UN called on Russia and Ukraine to organize a demilitarized zone around the station. A similar appeal was made by Ukraine, supported by several countries, including the United States. Moscow does not support this proposal.
The Russian army deployed multiple launch rocket systems, as well as other weapons and equipment, on the territory of the Zaporozhye NPP, reports with the BBC. High-voltage transmission lines at the station have already suffered from shelling. And this, as experts explain, is a direct path to a nuclear accident.
If you break the remaining lines, the reactors will begin to heat up rapidly. In this case, there are two options for the development of events. Either the Russians who control the nuclear power plant will be able to transfer the power of the nuclear power plant, powering their own energy system from them, or the threat of a nuclear catastrophe will begin to grow rapidly.
For more than a week now, since August 5, the territory of the ZNPP has been constantly shelled. And the Ukrainian authorities claim that the Russians themselves are doing it.
According to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, "the mining of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and the shelling of this facility by the invaders have all the signs of nuclear terrorism on the part of Russia."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that a Russian-instigated disaster at a nuclear power plant would mean "essentially the use of nuclear weapons" - only without a nuclear strike.
The IAEA, tasked with monitoring the situation at nuclear power plants around the world on behalf of the UN, has already expressed serious concern about these risks and called on the parties to the conflict to exercise "maximum restraint" near the ZNPP. Access to the station itself is closed for IAEA experts.
Moscow, on the other hand, claims that Ukrainian troops are shelling the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which gives the Russians a formal reason to keep their military and representatives of Rosatom at the station.
The correspondent managed to talk to one of the engineers working at the Zaporozhye NPP. He talks about regular shelling of the station's facilities from the Russian side. According to him, they shoot, in particular, from one of the industrial sites of the ZNPP, previously used to place steam generators. He also confirms the mining of the engine rooms of nuclear reactors.
There is an acute shortage of personnel at the station. And those employees who continue to go to work are terribly tired, depressed and scared.
The name and position of the interlocutor are not disclosed for security reasons. However, the statements made by the engineer represent socially significant information and are confirmed by the testimonies of other employees of the Zaporozhye NPP, with whom we managed to communicate earlier.
Shelling and the threat of disaster
The engineer says that, firstly, there is a huge amount of military equipment of the Russian Federation at the ZNPP. They drove most of the engineering vehicles, Urals and other vehicles under the transitional galleries, through which personnel go from special buildings to power units. In everyday life, these galleries are called "flyovers".
The deeper into the territory of the station, the more interesting objects can be found under the overpass. At the second special corps, sometimes there are BM "Grad" with a fully loaded ammunition load.
There is a platform on the territory of the station where heavy metal structures, such as fresh steam generators, are stored. Russian artillery mounts are now located on it, which fire at the ZNPP, simulating "arrivals" from Nikopol.
“I personally saw the shelling from this site, I saw the exit from there and where it arrived. No more than three seconds passed from the moment of “exit” to the moment of “arrival”. Each of the ZNPP employees saw and heard it. And he knows where he is flying from and where to,” he says.
He says that representatives of Rosatom have been asking workers for two months to give them tours of the ZNPP. They were very interested in how everything works. We talked about sharing experiences. Then they demanded ZNPP maps, even landscape maps. And then the shelling began. “They know where to shoot in order to “hurt” but “not kill,” a spokesman for the station said.
“They, like guards in a pre-trial detention center or FSB officers, beat so that there were no bruises, but you remember forever,” the station worker said.
Recently, a nitrogen-oxygen station was broken. On the one hand, getting rid of such an object is a disaster for the plant, as the engineer says, but on the other hand, this object does not greatly affect the correct operation of power units.
But, most importantly, the Russian military is destroying the power lines connecting the station with the energy system of Ukraine, hiding behind the fact that "this is supposedly done by the Armed Forces of Ukraine."
The consequences of such shelling are not too critical for Ukraine as a whole. But fatal for ZNPP.
A nuclear power plant cannot work to nowhere, as the engineer says. It has to give off electricity somewhere. If suddenly all consumers disappear, the station “chokes”, the power units are switched off in an emergency, and the so-called “blackout” begins.
This means that not a single power unit outputs power “outside”. It may seem that this is nothing terrible, but there is one “but”. The power unit needs electricity to operate the pumps that cool the nuclear fuel in the reactor or spent fuel pool. This is a very long process.
He warned that without this cooling there would be a terrible nuclear catastrophe. “We need at least one power unit to work for any power system. Firstly, it will give us a chance to start up other power units someday. Secondly, it is necessary to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. They know it. And what do they do? They break the high-voltage lines connecting the ZNPP with the energy system of Ukraine. And at the same time they tell us: “If “neo-Nazis from the Armed Forces of Ukraine break your last line, we are ready to provide you with assistance,” says an engineer from the station.
Russia promised to give them a plan to “connect” the ZNPP with the Russian energy system through the ZNPP-Melitopol-Dzhankoy line.
“If we suddenly “sit down to 0”, that is, a “blackout” happens, we will need any power from the “side” to feed the pumps for cooling nuclear fuel,” he says.
That is, the Russians deliberately arrange a “blackout” in order to “help” later. Right now it is very close. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow, they will break the last line, he says.
If the station cannot produce power, it stops. But you can't just turn off the station. It takes a lot of energy to power the reactor coolant pumps. This is the first scenario, as the engineer says.
The second scenario: they can blow up the engine room at the operating power unit. “Technically, we are fully prepared for this contingency. We know what to do, we have the means to eliminate it.
But we are very tired. People are exhausted and scared,” he says.
Nuclear fuel is always hot. Even if it is worked out, there are decaying elements in it, and therefore there is always an energy release. If the heat is not removed from the nuclear fuel, it will overheat. When the fuel is overheated, it expands like any material when heated. The fuel rods in which it is placed crack. A lot of radioactive gases are released into the water and the atmosphere. It's the same radioactive iodine.
In addition to gases, the remains of spent fuel and a bunch of radioactive isotopes of various metals with a very long half-life get into the water.
It would not be like Chernobyl. This is closer to what happened at Fukushima.
There is no help from the world in this situation. “Every year, missions from the IAEA and other international organizations in the field of nuclear energy come to us. But when this happens, they all stand aside. The maximum that we hear is the words of “deep concern,” says the station worker.
Disaster occurred at Fukushima because the earthquake and tsunami stopped the reactor's ability to cool. As a result, a steam explosion occurred in the core, the confinement, that is, the sealed zone of the reactor, was destroyed. Radioactive substances got out.
This scenario may be repeated at ZNPP: but the causes are not a natural disaster. This is the shelling of the Russian army.
“We carried out a number of upgrades to prevent the Fukushima scenario at the ZNPP. Half of these security systems are operated by personnel. And today he is forced to flee from Energodar, because in the first place is his own real safety. People are under constant fire. And this can play a fatal role. This is not a sausage shop. This is a nuclear facility. What the Russian army is doing here is nuclear terrorism. The condition of the staff here is beyond acceptable. And the number of evacuees is very high. Now we have about one tenth of the staff that should be working for us. Over the past few weeks, when the shelling began, almost half of the team left. Our shift changes are now under fire. At the entrance station - shmon and mockery. But we continue to work,” says the engineer.
Station staff exhausted
Representatives of Rosatom are always the first to be evacuated from the industrial site if it gets hot, according to a plant worker.
“Rosatom personnel sit in storage facilities during the shelling, but some Russian soldiers, when, as they say, the Armed Forces of Ukraine “shell” the station, calmly walk around the territory, knowing that they are shooting. It is the representatives of Rosatom who tell their military where to shoot, so that it does not “hurt”, but loudly. They went on “excursions” for two or three months to “exchange experience,” the engineer says.
He reports that the Russians do not communicate with the station personnel because the station personnel do not communicate with them.
Since the first day of the occupation, personnel have been disappearing, as the station engineer says. People are kidnapped according to a certain algorithm. First, the public activists of Energodar. Next - ATO participants and their relatives. Further - all those who identify themselves as Ukrainians.
The Russian invaders took away those who stood in the vanguard of the city's defense. Energodarovtsy carried out actions at a checkpoint at the entrance to the city against the Russian army and the occupation of the city. Those who were in the forefront immediately found themselves in the basement. Others were handed over under torture - and so on in a chain, as he reports.
“They torture them to death. I'll give you an example. Recently, the Russian military claimed that there were abandoned weapons in the ZNPP spray pools (cooling pools). They wanted to force our full-time hydro-shop scuba diver to dive into the spray pools and look for weapons. He refused. He was beaten to death. People who had “short conversations” with the occupiers are simply silent upon their return and do not answer any questions,” the engineer said.
He says that the collective is depressed. They live in an occupation without normal communications, without shops, ATMs, civilization. We buy food from the trunks of cars in the markets, people are constantly afraid, according to a station worker.
“We walk past the Russian military every day. If there are no complaints against us, they do not touch us. Previously, women were treated more loyally at the inspection at the ZNPP checkpoint, but now their morning inspection and check at the checkpoint is a daily test. But our women are the most courageous in the world. This happened in early May. Our girls were walking after their shift, and the employees of Rosatom decided to take care of them. They responded very sharply. This was followed by a massive raid. And we received letters on how you can and how not to communicate with the Russians,” he says.
Prices for Russian products are sky-high. Nobody buys Russian products. “We overpay two or three prices for Ukrainian products, because Russian products are impossible to eat,” the worker says.
Energoatom pays the station workers to their bank cards. But the Russian occupiers cut them off from using electronic money. All terminals around the city are disabled, everywhere they accept only cash. And you can withdraw cash from the card only for a percentage from dealers.
10% is a normal rate, as the engineer said.
Energoatom reports that the periodic shelling of Zaporizhzhya NPP by Russian troops from the MLRS since last week has entailed a serious risk to the safe operation of the plant.
In particular, as a result of the attack, emergency protection went off at one of the ZNPP power units. As a result, one of the three operating power units is now offline, reports economic truth.
The shelling also seriously damaged the nitrogen-oxygen station, the combined auxiliary building, the pumping station for domestic wastewater, as well as the 750 kV open switchgear (VRP-750).
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“The invaders fired at the fire station located outside the ZNPP territory and designed to protect it from fires and extinguish them in case of emergencies at the station. The risks of hydrogen leakage and radioactive dispersion remain, and the fire hazard is also high,” Energoatom added.
Also, three radiation monitoring sensors around the Zaporizhzhya NPP storage facility were damaged.
The occupiers damaged the switchgear at the ZNPP: the risk of radiation leakage and fire is high
“The ZNPP is still occupied and controlled by the Russian military. Considering that it is impossible to foresee the actions of the invaders, the threat to the physical security of the station remains,” the message concluded.
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