A fire at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “has not affected essential equipment,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said early Friday, citing local sources.
The announcement by the UN’s nuclear watchdog came shortly after Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Twitter that a fire had broken out at the plant while Russian troops were attacking.
“Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out,” said Dmytro Kuleba, adding, “If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl!”
The IAEA announced on Twitter that it “is aware of reports of shelling at #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), in contact with Ukrainian authorities about situation.”
“IAEA Director General @RafaelMGrossi speaks with #Ukraine PM Denys Shmyhal and with Ukrainian nuclear regulator and operator about serious situation at #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, appeals for halt of use of force and warns of severe danger if reactors hit.
“#Ukraine regulator tells IAEA there has been no change reported in #radiation levels at the #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant site," it added.
Biden speaks with Zelenskyy
The US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to receive an update on the situation, the White House said in a statement.
“President Biden joined President Zelenskyy in urging Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site,” the statement said.
“President Biden also spoke this evening with Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the U.S. Department of Energy and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Jill Hruby to receive an update on the situation at the plant. The President will continue to be briefed regularly,” it added.
UK prime minister weighs in
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke to Zelenskyy, according to a statement from Downing Street.
“Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant,” said the statement.
“The Prime Minister said the reckless actions of (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe. He said the UK would do everything it could to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further,” it added.
“The Prime Minister said he would be seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, and that the UK would raise this issue immediately with Russia and close partners.”
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said Thursday that Russian tanks had entered a town near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.
Located in the steppe zone of Ukraine on the bank of the Kakhovka Water Reservoir, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar is the largest in Europe and among the top 10 largest in the world.
The power plant has six pressurized light water nuclear reactors.
Last month, Ukraine said it also lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the country’s north after a fierce battle with Russian forces.
Ukraine has 15 operational nuclear reactors at four sites in the country, providing roughly half of its electricity, which the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said Thursday continue to operate normally.