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Fire Breaks Out at Europe's Largest Nuclear Power Plant After Russia Attacks

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A training facility at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was on fire for several hours Friday after officials said Russian units shelled the Zaporizhzhia plant in the southeast of Ukraine.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said a Russian “projectile” had hit the training center and that Russian forces now controlled the site, The Associated Press reported Friday.

The IAEA warned of the potential for “severe danger.”

“Zaporizhzhia NPP is under fire!” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on Twitter as he shared a video of the incident.

“The entire Europe is at risk of a repeat of the nuclear catastrophe. Russians must stop fire!” he said.

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The fire was extinguished and no radiation was released, Grossi said.

A statement from Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate said auxiliary buildings connected with one of the plant’s six reactors were damaged. Four reactors were being cooled down while one other remained active, the statement said, according to CNN.

Russian officials, who recounted a litany of alleged Ukrainian atrocities as a justification for invading the country last week, sought to pin the blame on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs, according to NBC News.

Zelenskyy said Russia committed a “terror attack” in firing on the site, according to CNN.

“Russian tanks, equipped with thermal imagery, are shooting at the atomic blocks. They know what they are shooting at. They’ve been preparing for this [attack],” Zelenskyy said in a Facebook post, adding that “our guys are keeping the atomic power station secure.”

“There are 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine,” he said. “If one of them blows, that’s the end for everyone, that’s the end of Europe. All of Europe will have to evacuate.”

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“No country besides Russia has ever fired upon an atomic power plant’s reactors. The first time, the first time in history,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president added a plea for European leaders to “wake up now” and stop Russia’s steadily progressing invasion “before this becomes a nuclear disaster.”

Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, which operates the plant, said the plant’s managers were operating at “gunpoint.”

Russian troops “entered the territory of the nuclear power plant, took control of the personnel and management of the nuclear power plant,” he wrote in a message on Telegram, according to CNN.

“Today there is no connection, the station management works at invaders’ gunpoint,” Kotin wrote. “As for the staff, they were admitted in the morning to perform their duties. We do not currently have a direct connection to the station. We get information from the sources at the station.”

He said he feared for the worst.

“Any shell that hits it, will lead to a nuclear disaster,” Kotin wrote. “This is the main danger. That is why after the shelling started, we started to put the power units in a safe mode: Two power units were disconnected from the grid, cooling the other two power units began to bring them to the safest state for the nuclear fuel.”

Energoatom said in a statement that some workers at the plant were killed when Russian forces attacked it.

Grossi said the nuclear plant was in “a situation that is very difficult to sustain, very fragile.”

“This is unprecedented,” he said. “Completely uncharted waters.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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