Invasion of Ukraine: A nuclear power plant operator attacked: “The workers have been there for 24 hours, the Russians won't let them out” | International

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Russian troops have taken control of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, located in the Zaporizhia region, southeast of Ukraine, at dawn on Friday. The facilities have been receiving mortar attacks by the Russian Army since Thursday afternoon, which caused a fire in Corpus G that has already been put out. On the morning of this Friday, the Russian soldiers are not allowing anyone to enter or leave the facilities, as Alexandra, a technician who works at the Zaporizhia plant, explains by phone to EL PAÍS. “This Thursday, those responsible for the plant told us that we could go to work normally because it was controlled by the Ukrainian Army. The morning shift came on. And after 24 hours, they're still there, they won't let them out." She should have entered the night shift on Thursday, but she could not do it, nor this Friday morning: when she tried to approach the plant, the Russian troops told her that it was taken and that they would not let anyone enter.

Alexandra's colleagues have been inside, keeping the plant running, since Thursday morning. Due to the danger of working at a nuclear power plant and the fact that it is a strategic facility, it is important that morning, afternoon and night shifts are always maintained so that workers can rest. Shifts that are not being fulfilled now. “Right now I can only think of the comrades who are in there and whom the Russians have taken almost as hostages. I also think about my family constantly. I am very concerned. This could be an unprecedented catastrophe”, confesses Alexandra. Neither she nor her family have been able to flee from the city of Energodar as it is surrounded. "Where we go? We have no way out. And in such a situation, it is better to stay home. At least if something happens, we're all together."

The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant after the bombing, this Friday.ENERGOATOM (via REUTERS)

The plant, which has a capacity of 5,700 megawatts -Almaraz, the largest in Spain, is 1,100 megawatts- generates about half of all nuclear power in the country and a fifth of Ukraine's total power. Located in the city of Energodar (meaning “the one that gives energy”), in the Zaporizhia region, in southeastern Ukraine, the plant is made up of six reactors, which makes it the third largest nuclear power plant in the world. .

Alexandra, who prefers not to be identified by her real name, says that, despite the fact that the plant has six reactors, right now only reactor number four is in operation. Two days ago and due to the Russian offensive underway since February 24, those responsible for the plant made the decision to shut down reactors two and three, which gave power to Russia and Belarus, according to the account of this technical employee. One was in a maintenance process, with radioactive material, and five and six, turned off. At the time of the offensive, only reactor four, which powers Ukraine, was operational.

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The Russian attack, at dawn this Friday, caused a fire and a great alarm. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned during the fire: “In Chernobyl only one reactor exploded. If the six are attacked here, it will affect not only Ukraine. It will affect the water and the air in Ukraine, Russia and the whole world”, explains Alexandra. “If it explodes, it will be ten times bigger than Chernobyl! The Russians must stop firing immediately,” she said.

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