A total of nine countries could be contaminated if the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine is hit by multiple launch rocket systems, a former chief inspector of the USSR’s nuclear authority told RT.
Russian troops established control of the Zaporozhye NPP, Europe’s largest facility of the kind, early on in the course of military operations in Ukraine. Since then, Russia has repeatedly accused Kiev of launching artillery and drone strikes on the facility. Ukrainian officials claimed that the Russians were shelling themselves to discredit Kiev.
- In an interview published on Tuesday, Vladimir Kuznetsov warned that if the plant is hit by volley fire, with numerous missiles striking the storage facility that holds spent nuclear fuel, chances are that more than one container would be damaged.
This scenario would entail radiation escaping “into the environment – hence the contamination of not only the industrial site but also the Dnepr river which is nearby,” the expert noted.
Kuznetsov also pointed out that such a strike would most likely be accompanied by a fire, and “God knows where the wind would send the combustion products.”
- The former chief inspector surmised that should 20 to 30 containers be breached in such an attack, the “radiation would affect approximately nine countries: Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, the Baltic states and obviously Western Ukraine.”
Russian forces took over the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in early March, within the first two weeks of Moscow’s military campaign against its neighbor.
- In recent weeks, the Russian military has accused Ukraine of deliberately targeting the facility multiple times and warned that a major nuclear disaster, akin to that at Chernobyl in 1986, or even worse, could happen if such attacks continue unchecked.
Kiev, meanwhile, denies these allegations and claims that it is Russian forces that are shelling the power plant to frame the Ukrainian military – a point of view shared by the US and EU.
The UN has called the attacks “suicidal” and proposed sending an International Atomic Energy Agency delegation to the site to provide “technical support” and help avoid a further escalation.
On Tuesday, local government administration member Vladimir Rogov told Russian media that Ukrainian forces had fired multiple rockets directly at the coolant systems and nuclear waste storage site inside the facility.
Since the storage site is out in the open, any hit would result in the release of nuclear waste ranging from dozens to hundreds of kilograms and lead to contamination of the area, the official explained.
“In plain language, that would be like a dirty bomb,” said Rogov.