Fire Extinguished After Russians Strike Ukrainian Nuclear Plant
Media outlets cover the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on nuclear infrastructure — including strikes on a power plant that started a fire, sparking worry over radioactive leaks. The site was determined to be a training facility. Also, experts worry over disturbing the debris at the Chernobyl disaster site.
UN Atomic Agency: Strike At Nuke Plant Hit Training Center
The head of the United Nations’ atomic agency a Ukrainian nuclear plant was hit by a Russian “projectile” but that the building was a training center. Earlier reports conflicted over what part of the plant was affected by fire that broke out after shelling. Nuclear plant spokesman Andriy Tuz told Ukrainian television overnight that shells fell directly on the facility, and set fire to reactor that is not operating and to an administrative training building. (Heintz, Karmanau and Chernov, 3/4)
The Washington Post:
Mayor Of City Near Russian-Occupied Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Awkwardly Says Everything Is Fine
After Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and surrounding area early Friday, the mayor of the nearby city of Enerhodar said in a video address that the plant — part of which had earlier been on fire — was operational and running as usual, in a video address that Ukraine’s national atomic energy company said may have been made under duress. Following the Russian capture of the town, a visibly grimacing Mayor Dmytro Orlov put out an awkward video statement on Telegram calling on Ukrainians not to provoke Russian troops and saying that no shots had been fired at civilians. He also suggested, improbably, that Russian troops had fired blanks. (Stern and Suliman, 3/4)
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Fire Prompts Chernobyl Comparisons
Fears of an unprecedented nuclear disaster spread rapidly overnight when part of Europe’s largest nuclear plant caught on fire in Ukraine as Russian forces shelled the area. Amid a stream of confusing, alarming, and, at times, conflicting information about the incident, The International Atomic Energy Agency soon said the "serious situation" had not affected essential equipment at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and that there had been no change in radiation levels. Ukrainian authorities confirmed that the blaze was later extinguished by firefighters on Friday. That didn't stop Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from giving an emotional plea to his nation and all of Europe in an overnight video address. (Shannon and Weise, 3/3)
IAEA Head Requests Chernobyl Visit To Avoid Further Nuclear Plant Attacks
Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has told Ukraine and Russia that he wants to visit Chernobyl as soon as possible, to agree a framework to avoid further attacks on nuclear power plants. Grossi was speaking at a news conference at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria after Russian forces fired a projectile into a training centre at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s biggest nuclear power facility early on Friday. (Cookson, 3/4)
EXPLAINER: How Dangerous Was Russia's Nuclear Plant Strike?
But even though the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is of a different design than Chernobyl and is protected from fire, nuclear safety experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency warn that waging war in and around such facilities presents extreme risks. One major concern, raised by Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator, is that if fighting interrupts power supply to the nuclear plant, it would be forced to use less-reliable diesel generators to provide emergency power to operating cooling systems. A failure of those systems could lead to a disaster similar to that of Japan’s Fukushima plant, when a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed cooling systems, triggering meltdowns in three reactors. (Rising, 3/4)
In other news on the Ukraine invasion —
U.S. Waives COVID Test For Americans Leaving Russia, Belarus
The United States is waiving a requirement for negative COVID-19 tests from Americans leaving Belarus or Russia to travel home, the State Department said on Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it would exercise its discretion to allow travel by U.S. citizens, permanent residents and holders of valid immigrant visas who were in either country by a Feb. 28 cut-off date. (3/3)