Since the early days of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has targeted nuclear power plants, including the infamous Chernobyl, as they advanced. The latest news from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is concerning.
Europe's largest nuclear power plant is in peril as shelling has destroyed some of the systems that support and monitor the plant. Both sides of conflict claim that the shelling is the fault of their adversaries. Ukrainian ministry officials, including President Zelensky, have been in contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency that oversees nuclear power and waste around the globe.
On Thursday, shelling disturbed casks of spent nuclear waste stored outside the facility, while also rendering 3 detection devices unusable. Currently, the ability to detect any radioactive materials in the area of the attack has been wiped out. Russia has claimed that the Ukrainians orchestrated the attack and announced that fallout could reach as far as Germany and Slovakia. However, Ukrainian officials claim the attack is part of a more insidious plan from Russia to use the plant for their own power.
Ukraine has stated that they believe that Russia is "planning a provocation" at the plant to justify routing it's power production to the Russian grid. Ukrainian officials are attempting to negotiate a mission to the plant from IAEA to asses the damage. Currently, reports indicate that Russia's occupation of the plant has held the worker's hostage at gunpoint. Ukraine is claiming that Russia is using the plant as a shield to launch rockets from the plant toward strategic areas.
Experts following the plant conditions suggested that it would be less like Chernobyl and more like Fukushima if an accident were to occur. The key difference being that Fukushima was a localized meltdown whereas Chernobyl created international fallout. Primarily, this is due to the type of reactor housed at Zaporizhzhia.