Home / News / World /  Russia-Ukraine war: Key facts about Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant attacked by troops

Europe's largest nuclear power plant was hit by Russian shelling early on Friday, sparking a fire and raising fears of a disaster that could affect all of central Europe for decades, like the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

Concerns faded later after Ukrainian firefighters extinguished the blaze and authorities announced that no radiation was released.

Ukraine’s state nuclear regulator earlier said that no changes in radiation levels have been recorded so far after the Zaporizhzhia plant came under attack. 

International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi later said no radioactive material was released, but that two people were injured in the fire that broke out at the plant.

The agency also warned 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 the 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.

The consequence of that, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, would be widespread and dire.

Below are five facts about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the biggest in Europe by capacity, which Russian troops seized. 

  • Zaporizhzhia is the largest of Ukraine's four nuclear power plants, which together provide about half the country's electricity.
  • This is the first time war has broken out in a country with such a large and established nuclear power programme, the International Atomic Energy Agency says.
  • Zaporizhzhia's six units each have a net capacity of 950 Megawatts electric, or a total of 5.7 Gigawatts electric, according to an IAEA database. The first unit was connected to the grid in 1984, and the last in 1995.
  • The power plant is operating at just a fraction of its capacity. Citing an internal IAEA notification, news agency Reuters said that unit 1 is "in outage". Units 2 and 3 "have been disconnected from the grid, and the cool down of the nuclear installation is being carried out". Unit 4 "is in operation at 690 MW power". Units 5 and 6 "are being cooled down".
  • The power plant is of strategic importance to Russia because it is only about 200 km from Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.


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