Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: Russian vehicles spotted inside turbine hall



CNN

New video has emerged online showing Russian military vehicles inside a turbine hall connected to a nuclear reactor at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where the meltdown has heightened fears of a nuclear disaster.

CNN has geolocated and confirmed the authenticity of the video, which began circulating on social media on Thursday. It is unclear when the video was taken.

The footage shows one of the six turbine rooms located in the western part of the nuclear plant, located in the southeastern city of Enerhodar. Each turbine hall is connected and built into a large building containing a nuclear reactor.

The vehicles, which appear to be standard Russian military trucks, sit on the far west side of the building on the ground floor, more than 400 feet (130 meters) from the reactor.

At least five vehicles – one clearly marked with the pro-war “Z” symbol – can be seen in the video, with at least two tent-like structures nearby. There are many different pallets near the cars.

It is unclear from the video whether the pallets and tent-like structures are part of the Russian military or related to power plant operations.

Moscow has previously said the only military equipment at the plant is related to guard duties. On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that satellite imagery, “shows that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not placed on the territory of this station.”

CNN reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment on what was in and around the military vehicles in the turbine room, but did not immediately receive a response.

Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of threatening nuclear terrorism, particularly around the plant.

Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian forces of stockpiling heavy weapons inside the complex and using it as cover to launch attacks, knowing that Ukraine cannot fire back without risking which hit one of the plant’s reactors. Meanwhile, Moscow said Ukrainian troops were targeting the site.

On Monday, the chairman of Ukraine’s state nuclear power company, Petro Kotin, said that Russia is stockpiling 14 “units of heavy military equipment” in the “first power unit” and “six vehicles” in the “second engine room.”

Russian military vehicles have been out of the plant since July 24, according to satellite imagery of the complex provided to CNN by Planet Labs.

It is unclear whether Russian military trucks were stored inside the turbine room or if they were using it as cover after the Ukrainian military strike on July 19. The strike targeted Russian military personnel in three tent less than 1,000 feet (more than 300 meters) from one of the nuclear reactors.

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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been under Russian control since March.

The attacks on the complex, which intensified as fighting in southern Ukraine, raised concerns about the specter of a nuclear disaster, leading the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and world leaders to call for a mission to be authorized. to visit the site and assess the damage.

But nuclear experts are keen to dismiss some of the more alarming warnings, explaining that the main threat is closest to the plant itself and does not justify Europe-wide alerts. Experts are particularly wary of any comparisons with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – the worst nuclear accident ever – a repeat of which is incredibly unlikely, they say.

Shellfire at the plant in recent weeks damaged a dry storage facility – where casks of spent nuclear fuel are stored – as well as radiation monitoring detectors, according to Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power company.

On August 5, multiple explosions near an electrical switchboard caused a power shutdown and a reactor was disconnected from the electrical grid, according to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi told the UN Security Council last week that the situation had deteriorated “to the point of being extremely alarming.”

Speaking in the western city of Lviv on Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for the area around the plant to be “demilitarized” and said an agreement was urgently needed to “re-establish Zaporizhzhia as purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area.”

“We must say it like this – any potential harm to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” Guterres said.