Shelling of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station by Ukrainian forces risks a “nuclear catastrophe” at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, Arseniy Zelensky, the Kakhovka facility's deputy director for reconstruction, told reporters on Saturday.
According to Zelensky, as quoted by TASS, Kakhovka is now operating in a “very dangerous” emergency mode.
“In case of problems with the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, there will be big troubles at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. [This] could lead to a nuclear catastrophe,” the deputy director of the Kakhovka plant said.
He explained to journalists that if the dam is destroyed, the nuclear facility would be deprived of the water needed to cool its reactors.
He revealed that the station has been working in emergency mode “since the first days of hostilities.”
“The station's own needs, backup 6 kV, are lost, we are working in a very dangerous mode," he said, adding that one of the turbines had to be turned off following Ukrainian rocket attacks.
If the military action ceases, Zelensky said, the plant can be “restored within a week.”
Zelensky’s remarks came the day after Kirill Stremousov, the deputy head of the military-civilian administration of Kherson Region, revealed that the city of Novaya Kakhovka had again been attacked by “Ukrainian nationalists” but “no tangible damage” was caused. “The hydroelectric power station was not damaged,” he said.
On Thursday, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council that a nuclear disaster can happen “at any moment” amid the “reckless” shelling of the Zaporozhye plant by Kiev’s forces.
“Kiev’s criminal attacks on the nuclear infrastructure facilities are pushing the world to the brink of a nuclear disaster that would rival the Chernobyl one,” Nebenzia said.
Responding to Kiev’s claims that Russia was the one targeting the plant in an alleged plot to discredit Ukraine, the diplomat said that Russia has no reason to target the facility or its own troops, and that multiple attacks on the facility have been documented from Ukrainian-held territory in Dnepropetrovsk Region.
The US Department of State, however, took Kiev’s side by endorsing the demand for a demilitarized zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear plant and calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops that control the area.