Civilians block Europe's biggest nuclear plant as troops advance

Brave civilians use lorries and tyres to block road to Europe’s biggest nuclear plant as Russian troops advance through Ukraine

  • Brandishing Ukrainian flags, the army of volunteers created a human barricade
  • They built makeshift roadblocks into Zaporizhzhia with lorries and piles of tyres 
  • Russia told International Atomic Energy Agency it has control around the plant

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians defied Russian troops yesterday in a bid to protect Europe’s largest nuclear plant. 

They built makeshift roadblocks with lorries and piles of tyres on the main route to the Zaporizhzhia site in eastern Ukraine. 

Brandishing Ukrainian flags, the army of volunteers created a human barricade near the city of Enerhodar to stop advancing Russian troops. 

Footage posted on social media showed the blockade, reportedly a kilometre long and comprising scrap cars, garbage trucks and sandbags. 

Footage posted on social media showed the blockade, reportedly a kilometre long and comprising scrap cars, garbage trucks and sandbags

Brandishing Ukrainian flags, the army of volunteers created a human barricade near the city of Enerhodar to stop advancing Russian troops

‘This is how Enerhodar – its civilians – women and men, protect their city,’ said the mayor, Dmitri Orlov. 

‘They will continue to protect it. ‘Now, more than ever, we need to mobilise our forces, to be together, so that the enemy does not enter the city, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe! Let’s be ready, friends!’

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry, warned the Russians could create a ‘new Chernobyl’ if the plant was damaged. 

‘Because of Vladimir Putin’s madness, Europe is again on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe,’ he wrote on Facebook. 

‘The city where the largest nucleur power plant in Europe is located is preparing for a battle with the invaders. An accident can happen like at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant or the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Russian generals – think again! Radiation does not know nationalities, does not spare anyone!’

Russia has written to the International Atomic Energy Agency saying its forces have taken control of the area around the plant. 

Locals of Zaporizhzhia prepare and carry sand bags inside and outside of the hospital so that it is less affected by the Russian attack

The UN nuclear watchdog said Moscow claimed technicians at Zaporizhzhia were continuing their ‘work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation’. 

The letter added: ‘The radiation levels remain normal.’ 

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that any ‘accident involving the nuclear facilities in Ukraine could have severe consequences for public health and the environment’. 

He said it was ‘imperative to ensure that the brave people who operate, regulate, inspect and assess the nuclear facilities in Ukraine can continue to do their indispensable jobs safely, unimpeded and without undue pressure’. 

Zaporizhzhia is the largest of Ukraine’s nuclear sites, with six out of the country’s 15 reactors. Russia has already seized control of the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. 

Research by specialists for Greenpeace International found that, in a worst-case scenario where explosions destroy the reactor containment and cooling systems at Zaporizhzhia, it could create a disaster far worse even than Fukushima in Japan in 2011 

Research by specialists for Greenpeace International found that, in a worst-case scenario where explosions destroy the reactor containment and cooling systems at Zaporizhzhia, it could create a disaster far worse even than Fukushima in Japan in 2011. 

Jan Vande Putte, co-author of the risk analysis, said: ‘So long as this war continues the military threat to Ukraine’s nuclear plants will remain.  This is one further reason, amongst so many, why Putin needs to immediately cease his war on Ukraine.’ 

The fight to protect Zaporizhzhia is symbolic of the everyday heroism shown by the Ukrainian people. Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, told the BBC he had seen a line ‘hours long’ of civilians queuing up to get weapons. 

‘Right now, people are proud,’ the former world champion boxer said. His brother Wladimir, who was also a top fighter, said: 

‘This is our home. Our parents are buried here, our children go to school here. Why should we flee? What would you do if someone gets in to your house? You defend it.’ 

Source: Read Full Article