ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
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Context: Howitzers started shelling on the Ukrainian town of Nikopol from the side of Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, The New York Times reported.
- Located in southern Ukraine on the banks of Kakhovka reservoir on the Dnipro river, Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant is Europe’s largest, and 10th biggest in the world. Before the war started, it produced half of Ukraine’s power with a total capacity of 5,700 MW.
- The plant has six reactors with a capacity of 950 MW each. However, only three reactors are currently active.
- Geographically, the plant is located 200-km from Russia-annexed Crimea, and 500-odd km from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
- Russia captured the plant site in early March and continues to control it. As of now, the plant is run by Ukrainian staff, and ‘guarded’ by Russian troops.
- Moscow has been accused of using the nuclear plant as a shield to fire rockets to target Ukrainian positions. Russia, on the other hand, blames Ukraine for shelling near the plant. The threat of a nuclear disaster remains real with the plant housing active reactors and stored nuclear waste.
- In a report, Al Jazeera said that more than a reactor core explosion, experts are worried about damage to systems that cool spent fuel pool and the reactors. The report added that in case of a disaster, a radiation release could hit any part of Europe due to the plant’s location.
- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that the situation could “lead to disaster”. The IAEA has been seeking access to the plant for a while now, and utmost restraint.
- Amid demands to turn the area into a demilitarized zone, the G7 group of nations have called on Russia to immediately exit the plant and hand its control back to Ukraine.