Russian shelling near Zaporizhzhia is 'bonkers' says expert
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Ukrainian civilians who have fled the bombarded city of Zapaharizhizhia worry that Russian troops’ constant shelling in the vicinity of the local nuclear plant could have severe consequences, reports show. A senior Russian official said there was a risk of a human-made disaster at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe. Chemical weapons expert Hamish de Bretton Gordon warns the fallout could be worse than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
When asked whether the shelling close to the power plant should be of concern, Mr Gordon said: “Absolutely. I mean, it is completely bonkers. You know, this is not the act of rational people, rational commanders.
“But we know that Russians are doing things that rational people do not do – and it is terrifying for the local population.
“Unfortunately, you know, if there is an accident or explosions and there is radiation fallout, you know, it’s not just going to affect the local area.
“I took ten years to clean up the nuclear fallout from Chernobyl that landed in North Wales.”
“And that, you know, could be a tiny event compared to the potential of Zapaharizhizhia being used as a weapon, which is six times the size of Chernobyl”, Mr Gordon added.
The Chernobyl disaster – a nuclear accident that happened in 1986 – led to radioactive materials released all over Europe. Belgium and The Netherlands observed a radioactive cloud. In total, the accident claimed 4,000 lives, according to the World Health Organisation, though it remains hard to determine the exact number of deaths.
Fears are now rising over a similar accident in Zaporizhzhia. Russian and Ukrainian officials have been trading blames over who shelling around the nuclear power plant.
Ukraine says Russia is deliberately using the nuclear plant as a base to launch attacks against its population.
Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told the BBC: “Of course we are concerned. The situation changed dramatically when the Russians started shelling the area on 5 August.”
“It is impossible to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant while the Russian occupying forces are there,” says Denys Monastyrskyy, Ukraine’s interior minister.
“It is the key concern that we all should understand,” he adds.
The Russian defence Ministry accused Ukraine and what it called its “U.S. handlers” of trying to stage a “minor accident” at the plant in southern Ukraine on Friday in order to blame Russia.
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“We do not rule out the possibility of massive Russian provocations on the territory of the ZNPP tomorrow (Friday). This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources, and the behavior of the Russians at the station,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned an accident in the nuclear plant would threaten the whole of Europe.
“Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP can affect the countries of the European Union, Turkey, Georgia and countries from more distant regions. Everything depends solely on the direction and speed of the wind,” he said.
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