Zaporizhia, Ukraine – A bombing near a nuclear power complex in southern Ukraine has killed a foreman from the facility at his home in a nearby town, Ukrainian officials said Sunday.
The Ukrainian company that oversees the country’s nuclear power plants, Energoatom, said Russia directed at least six missiles at the town of Enerhodar, where most of the workers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant live.
The town is under Russian occupation, and the Russians have blamed the Ukrainians for the bombing of the gigantic nuclear complex – the largest in Europe – and nearby residential areas, sparking worldwide concern. However, the Ukrainians said that it was the Russians who were shooting civilians, suggesting that the intent was to discredit the Ukrainian military.
A statement by Energoatom posted on Telegram identified the killed Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant employee as Marko Maksym Petrovych and said other workers were injured and receiving medical care.
The bombing in and around the factory has resulted in recent days A civilian flight has begun from the region.
The Zaporizhzhia plant is the first active nuclear power complex to be trapped in a combat zone. 42 countries called on Russia to “immediately withdraw” its forces from the factory, in a statement dating back to Friday and Released by the European Union on Sunday.
The United States and the European Union have called for Create a demilitarized zone, As the fighting in and around the plant, its active reactors, and stored nuclear waste raised serious concerns that a misfire and resultant fire could melt or release radiation.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, said in his evening address on Saturday that Russia had resorted to “nuclear blackmail” at the complex, echoing Ukraine’s analysis that Moscow was using it to slow a Ukrainian counterattack toward the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, where Russia’s conventional military defenses appear increasingly vacillating. .
unlike Some analysts’ concerns When Moscow launched its invasion in February, the most immediate nuclear threat in Ukraine’s war now appears to be Russia’s destruction of a civilian facility, rather than the deployment of its own nuclear weapons.
Engineers say yard-thick reinforced concrete containment structures protect the reactors from even direct strikes. However, there has been growing international concern that the bombing could start a fire or cause other damage that could lead to a nuclear accident.
The six pressurized water reactors in the complex retain most of the radiation sources, reducing risks. After the failure of pressurized water reactors at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex in 2011, Ukraine upgraded the Zaporizhzhia site to enable shutdown even after cooling water was lost from outside the containment structures, Dmytro Gortenko, a former engineer at the plant, said in an interview.
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said Russian artillery fire hit a pump on Saturday, damaging a fire station and sparking fires near the factory that were not immediately extinguished due to damage to the post.
In the fields near Enerhodar, long queues of cars carrying fleeing civilians formed on Saturday, according to social media posts and another former engineer at the plant who has kept in touch with local residents.
“Locals are leaving town,” said the former engineer, who asked that his name only be used by his first name, Oleksiy, for security reasons. He added that residents had been leaving the country for weeks, but the pace picked up after the fires on Saturday.
Since Russia seized the plant in March, its military has taken control of the facility, while Ukrainian engineers have continued to operate it.
Oleksiy, who left in June, said the Ukrainian employees are not fleeing but are sending their families. Enerhodar was built for factory employees in the Soviet period and had a pre-war population of about 50,000.
Ukraine accused Russia of launching artillery attacks targeting Ukrainian towns across the Dnipro River from the factory starting in July as the Ukrainian counter-offensive escalated in the south.
Overnight into Sunday morning, Russian howitzers fired at the Ukrainian town of Nikopol, which is across a tank from the power plant, Yevniy Yushchenko, the city’s Ukrainian military governor, said in a Telegram post.
The Ukrainian military said it had few options to respond. In July, a self-destructing drone was used to strike a Russian rocket-propelled grenade launcher that was about 150 yards from one of the station’s reactors.