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Ukraine-Ukraine warns of risk of hydrogen leakage and possible fires at attacked Zaporiyia power plant

News 360 logo News 360 6/08/2022 Daniel Stewart
Archive - Broken glass in a house in Zaporiyia region, Ukraine - DMYTRO SMOLIYENKO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO © Provided by News 360 Archive - Broken glass in a house in Zaporiyia region, Ukraine - DMYTRO SMOLIYENKO / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Ukrainian nuclear power operator Energoatom warned Saturday that the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant is in danger of a hydrogen leak and a possible fire following attacks in the past two days for which Moscow and Kiev are blaming each other.

Energoatom has denounced Russian troops for attacking the plant with rocket launchers this past Friday, which caused "the activation of an emergency protocol and the disconnection of one of the three operational power units," according to a statement published Saturday and reported by Ukrinform.

According to the company's balance sheet, the nitrogen-oxygen station and the auxiliary building were seriously damaged as a result of the attack" and on Saturday "there are still risks of hydrogen leakage and dispersion of radioactive substances". "The fire danger is also high," the statement said.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mikhail Podoliak was blunt on his Twitter account. "Europe has received power this morning because the power plant did not explode yesterday by a miracle. Russia is in command of the power plant and is organizing provocations from there, he added.

Podoliak has called on the UN to demand Russia's withdrawal -- right now the management of the power plant is shared, with difficulty, between Russia and Ukraine -- and for Moscow to hand over "control to a special commission."

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has warned that this incident in Zaporiyia "is the latest in a long series of increasingly alarming reports".

"It underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond," he warned. Military activity around the plant "must be avoided at all costs," Grossi stressed.

For his part, the European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, accused Moscow of carrying out military activities in the vicinity of the plant that are "a serious and irresponsible violation of safety standards at nuclear facilities and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms". It has also called for the intervention of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Ukrainian authorities have denounced Saturday yet another Russian attack, which occurred overnight in the vicinity of the plant, hitting a road used for transporting hydrogen and the power lines of the facility, whose operators have been forced to divert part of their supply.

According to the Ukrainian administrator of the region, Oleksandr Starukh, the road hit was set on fire and the damage caused to the power lines forced the disconnection of "the fourth power unit of the energy system".

The power supplied by the unit has been replaced by a backup generator, Staruj said on his Telegram account, in a message reported by Ukrainian channel 24Tv.

As already happened yesterday, Staruj denounced that the representatives of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom who are on site "quickly left the plant before the attack".

In early March, the Russian army seized the nuclear power plant, one of the largest in Europe, which had already been the scene of intense clashes in the early stages of the war.

Russia, on the other hand, accuses the Ukrainian army of launching these attacks, as denounced on Friday by Russia's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dmitri Polianski.

Moscow accuses Ukraine in particular of having fired on Friday about 20 shells of 152 mm against the power plant and the nearby town of Energodar. These attacks, according to Moscow, caused a fire at a hydrogen station, but the fire was brought under control by the emergency services.

As a result of the shelling at Energodar, according to Russia, there is a partial lack of electricity and water supply, and the power generated by the plant has been substantially reduced.

"We have sent detailed information about this heinous provocation to the UN secretary general," the diplomat made known on his Twitter account. "It's time for the UN to call a spade a spade," he said.

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