Zaporizhzhia: Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine hit by rockets, no radiation leak

Ukraine’s nuclear agency says Russian rockets have damaged part of a giant Russian-controlled nuclear power plant, but there has been no radiation leak.

Enerhoatom said a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line had been damaged at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine also accuses Russian forces of firing rockets at civilian areas from the site, employing “terror tactics”.

Enerhoatom says there were two rounds of Russian rocket fire on Friday, which prompted the site’s operators to disconnect a reactor from the power grid.

Enerhoatom said “there is a risk of hydrogen leakage and dispersal of radioactive particles”.

“The fire danger is high. Currently there are no injuries,” it added.

Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia plant in March but kept its Ukrainian employees. Russia controls the plant and surrounding areas, close to Ukrainian-held territory. It consists of six pressurised water reactors and stores radioactive waste.

Western officials have sounded the alarm about Russia’s tactics there.

The plant is in the city of Enerhodar, in the south-east of Ukraine along the left bank of the River Dnieper.

The Russian-appointed officials in Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces shelled the plant twice on Friday “from the opposite bank of the Dnieper”. “The second time the nationalists managed to hit the target – shells landed in the plant’s industrial site,” their statement said.

Any accident at the power station could have catastrophic consequences.

The assessment reflects the views of civilians in nearby Nikopol, which lies across the river and is still under Ukrainian control.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned several times about the difficult conditions for staff working at the power plant, and wants access to inspect the site.