Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which has six reactors and supplies a quarter of the country’s electricity, is the largest facility of its kind in Europe and one of the biggest on the planet.
Russian forces attacked the plant early Friday morning local time, according to Ukrainian authorities, who warned that a meltdown there could be up to 10 times larger than the one in Chernobyl in 1986.
The bombardment sparked a fire, but authorities said radiation levels appeared normal, “essential” equipment had not been affected and that crews were addressing the damage.
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The plant is located in the town of Enerhodar near the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine. It’s one of four active nuclear facilities in Ukraine and accounts for six of the country’s 15 total reactors.
Zaporizhzhya’s reactors were commissioned between 1984 and 1995, according to its website. Construction on the first reactor began on April 1, 1980. The fifth was completed in 1989.
Officials added a sixth in 1995 after lifting a moratorium on further nuclear development.
It’s operated by Ukraine’s NNEGC Energoatom.
According to Power-Technology, an energy trade publication, the site was chosen because the surrounding land was unsuitable for agriculture and because of the site’s distance from other countries. The site also houses a spent-fuel storage facility underground.
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In 2014, an apparent short-circuit at the facility led to some safety concerns, according to Reuters.
Local officials and the French nuclear safety watchdog IRSN later said they found no unusual radioactivity or danger to the public as a result.
The plant has an automated radiation monitoring system that posts real-time results on its website. The monitor was revamped in February 2021.