Russian soldiers apparently want to force employees at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to drain cooling pools. Those who refuse experience violence – a worker is said to have died.
Zaporizhia – Russian soldiers specifically attacked the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in March, and a fire broke out. It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba warned at the time: “If it explodes, it will be ten times bigger than Chernobyl!” Now the nuclear power plant is once again the focus of attention in the Ukraine war. Russia is apparently looking for an excuse to drain the cooling pools.
Zaporizhia nuclear power plant: Why Russia wants to drain the cooling pools
Russia has had the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant under its control since early March. Now it is apparently the aim of the Russian occupiers to empty the cooling tanks. This could have serious consequences for the safety of the nuclear power plant. Ukraine’s atomic energy agency Energoatom reported Thursday on Telegram that Russian troops were “harassing and torturing” workers. They are accused of storing weapons on the premises to find an excuse to empty the tanks. Ukrainian worker Andriy Honcharuk is said to have defied this order and was subsequently tortured. On Wednesday he was taken to the hospital in the city of Enerhodar in a coma with numerous injuries and is said to have died shortly afterwards, reports Dmitry Orlov, head of the Enerhodar city administration.
The Ukrainian Atomic Energy Agency says several workers have been arrested and tortured “to force them to confess […]that they allegedly put some kind of gun in the March […] into the cooling pool of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant: explosives or grenades,” Energoatom continued. If the cooling basins were actually drained and the pumps that supply water to the safety systems of the power plant units were stopped, “nuclear safety” would be endangered. Energoatom warned that there was a risk of overheating, especially in the warm season. The Ukrainian news agency Interfax also reported on the events on Thursday, but the information could not initially be verified by an independent party.
Atomic Energy Agency soon to control the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant? Ukraine is against it
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is “untenable” – and not just because of the allegations made by Energoatom. The connection between the data servers of the nuclear power plant and the IAEA was disrupted for almost two weeks. It was only restored on June 13, as the authority announced. However, that alone is not enough, emphasized IAEA boss Rafael Grossi. “However, long-distance transmission does not replace the regular physical presence of the IAEA inspectors in the power plants to check the nuclear material,” says Grossi.
The IAEA chief wants to “continue efforts” to send an inspection team to Zaporizhia as soon as possible. Because important maintenance work would be postponed and essential equipment would not be delivered, which would lead to an increased risk of accidents. However, the Ukrainian government is refusing a visit from IAEA representatives as long as the nuclear power plant is occupied by Russian troops, saying this could “legitimize the presence of the occupiers”.
Important maintenance work on the nuclear vehicle is constantly being postponed and essential equipment is not delivered, which leads to an increased risk of accidents.
Meanwhile, the workers at the nuclear power plant fear that Russian soldiers themselves could throw weapons into the concrete pools. Then they could blame the Ukrainian workers and present these “facts” to the IAEA. “We emphasize that any weapon found on the premises […] found, is a weapon of the invaders, which they use for nuclear terrorism and the threat of a new terrible catastrophe to the whole world,” Energoatom therefore declared on Thursday as a precaution. Ukraine’s nuclear power plants play an important role in Putin’s war. (AFP/dpa/bme)
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