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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is on fire according to the mayor of the nearby town of Enerhodar.

Zaporizhzhya, Europe’s Largest Nuclear Power Plant on Fire as Russia Attacks

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Europe’s largest nuclear power plant suffered a fire as Russian troops began shelling the facility in eastern Ukraine early Friday, Ukrainian officials said, prompting global stocks to sink as the nation’s top diplomat warned of a potential disaster worse than Chernobyl.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Russia’s military to immediately halt firing on the plant and to allow a security zone to be established in a message posted to Twitter. President Joe Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as reports emerged about the attack on the nuclear plant, a White House official said.

Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spoke with Ukrainian authorities about the nuclear power plant and warned of “severe danger” if its reactors were hit.

Concern about the situation at the facility dragged down stocks and prompted a rush into haven assets. S&P 500 Index futures dropped 1.3% while Treasuries gained with gold. West Texas Intermediate oil jumped more than 4%. The dollar and the yen strengthened.

Zaporizhzhia power plant in the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar is home to six Soviet-designed 950-megawatt reactors built between 1984 and 1995, with capacity of 5.7 gigawatts, enough to power more than 4 million homes. The site accounts for about 20% of the country’s electricity, according to its website.

The site’s unit 1 was been hit and the plant is suffering from fire as a result of shelling by Russian forces, an unidentified official said in videos posted to the facility’s Facebook page. Firefighters can’t reach the plant, the post said.

Phone calls to the power plant didn’t connect, and plant officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the situation.

“How worried should we be? Not worried, if we’re talking about health impacts outside of the plant,” said Nelson. “If the plant’s emergency responses have been disabled, which would almost certainly take more than incidental firing with light weapons, then the worst we can expect is a contained “TMI” style accident,” he said, referring to the 1979 Three-Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania.

In the days leading up to the strike, the International Atomic Energy Agency had called for a 30-kilometer exclusion zone surrounding all of the Ukraine reactors, and the IAEA and World Association of Nuclear Operators had appealed to armed combatants to refrain from military actions near the country’s plants. Ukraine had also asked for NATO help to secure the air space above the 15 operating reactors.

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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