”They know where they are hitting.” The engineer of the Zaporizhzhia NPP spoke about the situation at the station and Rosatom workers who are correcting the fire

Anhelina Sheremet

The engineer of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant gave an interview to the Ukrainian service of the BBC. He spoke about the situation at the nuclear power plant, which has been under fire from the Russians for the last few weeks, about Rosatom workers who are correcting the fire, and about a scenario similar to Fukushima.

According to the engineer, there is a lot of Russian military equipment at the ZANP. For example, "Grads" multiple rocket launcher with fully loaded ammunition is sometimes standing near the second special corps, and on the site where heavy metal structures are stored, there are Russian artillery installations that fire at the ZNPP, simulating “strikes" from Nikopol.

The engineer noted that the shelling does not actually threaten reactors and other critical facilities: "They know where to shoot so that it hurts, but not fatally."

The employee of the station said that there are representatives of Rosatom at the station and they always know when there will be shelling, "they are always the first to evacuate the industrial site if it gets hot." According to an employee of the ZNPP, it is the "Rosatom" representatives who tell the military where to shoot, so that it is "loud, but not painful."

The engineer emphasized that the most critical thing is that the Russian military is breaking the power lines connecting the nuclear power plant with Ukrainian energy system: "A nuclear power plant cannot work anywhere. It must give electricity somewhere. If suddenly all consumers disappear, the station "chokes", the power units are switched off in an emergency, and the so-called blackout begins. This means that no power unit outputs power to the outside. It may seem that this is nothing terrible, but there is one but. The power unit needs electricity to run the pumps that cool the nuclear fuel in the reactor or in the holding pool. This is a very long process. Without this cooling, there will be a terrible nuclear disaster. We need at least one power unit to work for any power system. First, it will give us a chance to start other power units someday. Secondly, it is necessary to prevent a nuclear catastrophe."

Against this background, the Russians propose to connect the Zaporizhzhia NPP with the power system of the Russian Federation through the line Zaporizhzhia NPP — Melitopol — Dzhankoi: "That is, the Russians are specially arranging a blackout for us in order to "help" us later. Right now it is very close. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow, they will unravel the last line."

"It will not be like Chernobyl. This will be closer to what happened at Fukushima. Fukushima was a disaster because the earthquake and tsunami stopped the reactor from cooling. As a result, a steam explosion occurred in the active zone, and the confinement, i.e. the hermetic zone of the reactor, was destroyed. Radioactive substances got outside. This scenario may repeat itself at the ZNPP: but the reasons are not a natural disaster. Itʼs the shelling by the Russian army."

Breakdown of all voltage supply lines from the ZNPP is one of the scenarios of the development of events. The second is that the Russians can blow up the machine room at a working power unit. Technically, ZNPP employees are fully prepared for such a situation.

Currently, approximately one-tenth of the required number of personnel works at the ZNPP. Over the past few weeks, since the shelling began, almost half of the team has left.

  • The Zaporizhzhia NPP is under constant fire. The Russians have already hit a high-voltage communication line of an autotransformer, near a dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, and next to a welding station and a radiation source storage facility. The last shelling was on August 13.