Soldiers Prepare for Radiation Fallout as Stakes in Ukraine Reach New High
Locals are fearing a nuclear disaster unseen in decades amid a military standoff over the largest nuclear power facility in Europe.
Areas around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine have become a combat zone in recent weeks, with the war between Russia and Ukraine pivoting to the region.
Ukrainian officials fear that armed conflict over the plant could lead to a nuclear event. Zaporizhzhia continues to generate electricity through its nuclear reactors.
First responders in the region are training for a potential hazmat response to the possibility, according to the BBC.
Russian forces initially occupied the plant in early March and continue to hold the facility.
The invaders are allegedly holding the plant’s civilian workers at gunpoint, according to The U.S. Sun.
Personnel from Russia’s Rosatom nuclear energy agency were told not to report to the plant on Thursday, with the occupiers fearing for their safety, according to The Telegraph.
Russian forces have been using the plant as a base to launch artillery at Ukrainian forces, believing it to be a “safe zone” with minimal chance of receiving return fire.
However, over the past few weeks, heavy shelling has been reported around the nuclear power plant, with both Russia and Ukraine blaming the other for the attacks, the BBC reported.
Leaked footage purportedly from inside the plant, which has not been verified, revealed Russian military hardware, causing many to speculate the Russians were using the sensitive location as an armory.
Rumored footage from Zaporizhzhia NPP shows a large amount of Russian military hardware parked inside. pic.twitter.com/3wWdjwIAIe
— The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) August 18, 2022
On Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry refused United Nations proposals to demilitarize the area around the nuclear plant, according to Reuters. This move had Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accusing Russia of “blackmailing the world with nuclear catastrophe by sheltering its troops and weapons in the plant,” according to the Telegraph.
Thousands of Ukrainians have fled the city of Zaporizhzhia in response to the dangers of both conflict and a potential nuclear disaster.
Artillery battles in the area of the plant continued as of Thursday.
One of the most serious nuclear disasters in history already occurred in Ukraine.
The Chernobyl plant melted down in 1986, spurring mass evacuations from the region and limiting human habitation to this day.
Russia and Ukraine have lost tens of thousands of soldiers in a war that Vladimir Putin suggested he expected to end in days.
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