The threat of a nuclear disaster had been looming for months Russia six-month war in Ukraine.
Those fears have been renewed in the past two weeks after increased bombardment around the massive Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, which has been under Russian control since March.
Attacks on the complex, which have escalated as flares in southern Ukraine, have raised concerns about the specter of nuclear disaster, prompting the United Nations watchdog and world leaders to require that a mission be authorized to visit the site and assess the damage. .
There was a barrage of accusations from each side over security and military action at and around the plant. The lack of independent access to the factory makes it impossible to verify what is going on there. Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed in the factory’s territory, according to satellite images analyzed by CNN.
So how real is the risk of fighting?
Nuclear experts are keen to defuse some of the most alarmist warnings, explaining that the main threat is closest to the plant itself and does not warrant Europe-wide alerts. Experts are particularly wary of any comparison to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, a repeat of which is incredibly unlikely, they said.
“It is unlikely that this plant will be damaged,” Leon Cizelj, president of the European Nuclear Society, told CNN. “In the very unlikely event that this happens, the radioactive problem will primarily affect Ukrainians who live nearby,” rather than spreading across Eastern Europe as was the case with Chernobyl, he said. he declares.
Russia’s invasion sparked nuclear security fears early in the war
In late February and March, the Russian occupation of Chernobyl in northern Ukraine raised fears that safety standards inside the exclusion zone could be compromised.
During the first week of the war, the factory and its surrounding territory fell into the hands of Russian troops. They withdrew on March 31, according to the Ukrainian nuclear operator.
The Ukrainian government said Russian forces looted and destroyed a laboratory near the abandoned nuclear power plant, which was used to monitor radioactive waste.