< Back

ZNPP staff fears Chornobyl or Fukushima-level accident

May 22, 2023

The staff of Zaporizhzhya NPP is waiting for the plant to be vacated, which Russia is turning into a military base, and nuclear workers warn of the danger of a large-scale accident on the level of Chornobyl or Fukushima.


Petro Kotin, president of the Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom, the operator of ZNPP, told this in an interview with the Voice of America, Ukrinform reports.

"The staff is just in constant hope that this (de-occupation - ed.) will finally happen, and they are just waiting and asking for help," Kotin said.

According to him, "the level of insanity of these occupiers is different." The official is afraid of their intentions and plans, as there is a lot of nuclear material at the plant - six nuclear power units, six reactors filled with fuel, nuclear fuel. In addition, there are six filled spent fuel pools, each next to a reactor. If they are damaged, radiation may be released.

Depending on the scale of the damage, we may be talking about localized contamination or vice versa - "Chornobyl scale or Fukushima size". And then it will depend only on the weather conditions and wind direction, which will spread the contamination, Kotin warns.

He added that IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi also helped a lot in solving some of the problems that arose at the plant. For example, the dismissal of the plant's acting director general. Also, observers are now constantly present at Zaporizhzhia NPP.

He also supported Grossi's idea of a military-free zone around ZNPP. Negotiations are ongoing, but no decision has been made yet. Grossi's plan for ZNPP was to "protect the facility, not the territory," and to withdraw Russian weapons from the plant.

Still, Kotin is pinning his hopes on the IAEA to free the hostages in Enerhodar and to counter the danger of Russians potentially contaminating Europe. He also pins his hopes on the "real staff of Rosatom". "They, of course, support the Russian troops, but some of them are nuclear professionals, and they understand the risks," Kotin added.

He also said that since the occupation, there have been six shutdowns at Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is very dangerous for the plant. "It's like the first stage of what happened in Fukushima," Kotin compared.

"Back then, during the earthquake, the Japanese plant lost external power. And 30 minutes later, a tsunami hit, and all the diesel generators that supported the power sank and stopped working. "In Zaporizhzhia, we went through this first stage six times," Kotin said of the defense.

He also noted that the Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is "constantly intensifying," with the occupation authorities turning the occupied ZNPP into a military base. According to him, the number of Russian military at ZNPP is constantly increasing and now exceeds the number of staff. Now there are almost 2,500 Russian soldiers there, while earlier there were about 500, Kotin said.

The Energoatom president emphasized that if a disaster occurs at the plant, radiation contamination could spread not only to half of Ukraine and the Black Sea but also seriously affect Europe.

"At the moment, they (Russians - ed.) have only one idea - to keep the plant as their military base, because it is a protected area, and nuclear material protects itself. Therefore, they understand that there will be no shelling of nuclear materials because of the risk of contamination," Kotin said, admitting that the station is essentially a hostage of the Russian Federation.

Kotin also said that from the very beginning of the occupation - on March 4, 2022 - Russian troops established their regime at ZNPP, and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree on the creation of an operational organization based on Rosatom, Russia's state monopoly in nuclear energy.

"They pressured our staff to sign contracts with this fake organization. There were tortures, beatings of the staff. They also seized employees and put them in cages. They had all kinds of torture there. Some people died and some went missing. And we do not know where they are now," Kotin said.

According to him, about 2000-2700 employees signed the contract. About 3500 did not sign the documents.

Author - Serhii Kolomiets, 22/05/2023

Recent news