A nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl is looming in Europe as fighting rages over the Zaporizhia power plant, Ukraine has warned.
The nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – was seized by Russia in the early days of the war and claims Ukrainian shells landed just 10 meters from the plant’s buildings.
It comes as new video footage shows smoke billowing from around Zaporizhia.
Both Russia and Ukraine blame each other for fighting amid fears of a new nuclear scare.
A Russian-appointed local official claimed Ukrainian shells fell 10 meters from the facility, TV channel Russia-24 reports.
Ukraine claims Vladimir Putin’s forces turned the site into a military base in the expectation that Kiev’s military will not retaliate.
Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhia region, warned of catastrophic consequences if the rockets hit the plant.
“It won’t be another Chernobyl because this station is even bigger. It’s going to get worse,” he told the Telegraph.
The 1986 Chernobyl accident is the world’s worst nuclear disaster, leaving 31 people dead after an explosion at the site, also in Ukraine.
It left more than 77,000 square miles of land contaminated – and the fallout plume has even been spotted in the UK.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the “Russian occupying army uses Zaporizhia” for “terror and provocations” and turns it into a “battlefield”.
“The Russian military cannot be aware that they are exposing all of Europe to a nuclear catastrophe,” he said.
“And of course the Russian authorities understand what the aftermath will be if their army fires on the nuclear power plant.”
In response to the deteriorating situation at the site, the head of the United Nations has called for an immediate end to all military activity at the facility.
Antonio Guterres warned that damage could lead to “catastrophic consequences” in the region, adding: “The facility must not be used as part of a military operation.”
Meanwhile, workers at the factory have said they are being held at gunpoint by Russian forces.
“My working day is a constant stress,” one worker known only as Svitlana told the BBC.
“On Saturday, the nitrogen-oxygen station was shelled, causing a fire. Miraculously, the people working there survived.
“The mental situation is difficult. Soldiers are everywhere with guns and everyone is actually being threatened at gunpoint.”
Back in March, dramatic security footage from the facility showed the moment Russian forces arrived and began shelling buildings.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency Energoatom recently accused Russia of “declaring its readiness to blow up Zaporizhia,” although the claim has not been independently verified.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5989087/nuclear-catastrophe-worse-chernobyl-ukrainian-plant/ Europe faces nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl as missiles land ‘just 10 meters from Ukraine’s nuclear facility’